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       Urban and Sholts Interview                                                                                    Please take one minute to evaluate our website. Click here to take the survey.

These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Laura Urban, president of Alexandria Technical and Community College,
and Al Sholts, chief operating officer of Alexandria Industries

June 19, 2015

Alexandria's strong business/education partnership can be model for other communities

Overview

Strong, visible support for hands-on learning by the Alexandria, Minnesota, community has led to success and innovation in both its new high school and the Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC), say Al Sholts and Laura Urban. Sholts, chief operating officer of Alexandria Industries, and Urban, president of ATCC, extol the strong interest in education by the Alexandria area business community and its solid relationship with both the high school and ATCC.

 

Urban reports that about half of ATCC's students come from more than 50 miles away from the campus. She attributes the college's attractiveness to students from all over the state to both the quality of its programs and its solid relationships with the business community.

 

Sholts believes firmly in the importance of creating relevance between what students are learning and the practical world. He advocates changing from the traditional way schools deliver curriculum to using applied learning in all subject areas for all students, ensuring that students understand what they're learning and how to apply it. Communities must leverage business leaders to expose students to careers and help create a passion so they'll continue their education, he says.

 

Sholts and others in the Alexandria community worked together to incorporate that applied-learning model into the new area high school, which opened in fall 2014. The school, which a national technology magazine called the "Googleplex of Schools," chose a small learning community model as the new way to deliver curriculum to its students. Every student enrolls in one of the school's three college and career academies. Career pathways in each academy provide students with a plan to connect high school coursework with college and career opportunities after graduation.

 

Urban points out that the use of the state's Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program is growing in the Alexandria region, so that some students earn a two-year degree from ATCC by the time they graduate from high school. She says that by using customized training and just-in-time training, ATCC can meet the current and future needs of business for a trained workforce both for the Alexandria community and statewide.

 

For the complete interview summary see:  Urban/Sholts interview

 

Response Summary: Readers rated these statements about the topic and about points discussed during the meeting, on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

  

1. Topic is of value. The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

 

2. Further study warranted. It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

 

3. Others should adopt Alexandria's model. All Minnesota's community colleges should develop an employer-college partnership similar to the Alexandria, Minnesota, community model.

 

4. Two-way communication essential. Employers and educators must commit to very close, ongoing, two-way communication to successfully prepare students for available careers.

 

5. All should adopt applied learning. The concept of "applied learning", i.e., relating what students are learning to specific future employment options, should be incorporated by all educators, not limited to schools specializing in career technical education.

 

6. Employers must expose students to careers. To help youth begin thinking early about their futures, employers need to do more to acquaint students in their communities with potential careers.

 

7. MN should encourage adults to re-train. With Minnesota facing a problem of more people retiring than new people entering the work force, the state needs to do more to encourage adults to return to school for training.

 

8. Prioritize remedial education for adults.  Providing remedial education for adults who have been out of school for some time is sometimes needed more than providing remedial education for young people right out of high school.

 

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.

0%

0%

13%

25%

63%

8

2. Further study warranted.

0%

0%

13%

63%

25%

8

3. Others should adopt Alexandria's model.

0%

0%

0%

50%

50%

8

4. Two-way communication essential.

0%

0%

0%

50%

50%

8

5. All should adopt applied learning.

0%

0%

13%

63%

25%

8

6. Employers must expose students to careers.

0%

0%

0%

50%

50%

8

7. MN should encourage adults to re-train.

0%

0%

0%

63%

38%

8

8. Prioritize remedial education for adults.

0%

0%

25%

75%

0%

8

 

Individual Responses:

Anonymous  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)

Very relevant, well conceived interview.

 

Anonymous  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)

2. Further study warranted. Alexandria Industries cannot be the only business partner; I'm sure there are many others.

 

Arvonne Fraser   (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (5)

1. Topic is of value. But don't overdo the technical and applied.  Education for citizenship and an interesting, informed life is as important as making a living.  But it is important for people to learn how to make a decent living.   

 

Further general comments: As noted above, education is not only for work.  People should not be thought of as human capital, but as citizens. 

 

Paul Taylor  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)

 

Paul Hauge  (9)  (9)  (7)  (9)  (6)  (8)  (9)  (7)

 Wonderful report. You have come up with a great array of resource people knowledgeable about this topic.

 

Bright Dornblaser  (5)  (8)  (8)  (8)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (8)

 

Wayne Jennings  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (8)

 How refreshing to see progressive practices (applied learning, experiential learning, community and business involvement, PSEO) in high school and higher education. This is worth disseminating widely.

 

Jim Goff  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

 This is the finest posting that I have ever seen from Civic Caucus.

I wish every local Chamber of Commerce could forward your July posting to its members.  For that matter, I wish the Minnesota Labor Unions and Education Minnesota affiliates could also be in receipt of your posting.

 

Civic Caucus has done great work and you can certainly be also proud of the effort put in by your Alexandria colleagues.

 

Chuck Lutz  (9)  (5)  (10)  (9)  (8)  (9)  (8)  (7)

 

 

To receive these interview summaries as they occur, email civiccaucus@comcast.net         Follow us on Twitter

 

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman

 

 

 


The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.
 

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