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Stanislaus Partners in Education Unites Employers, Educators & Students for a Bright Future 

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Whatever way you look at it, Stanislaus Partners in Education is a win for everyone involved. Created in 1991, Stanislaus Partners in Education (SPIE) unites employers and educators to prepare students for tomorrow’s work force. SPIE helps employers by creating employees with the qualifications they need; helps educators learn what workplace skills to teach their students; and helps students prepare for the working world. In fact, SPIE is ultimately a win for the future of the entire community.

“School teachers and administrators juggle a complex set of demands that are often more directed toward academic lessons than real world preparedness in terms of the work world,” explained SPIE board president John Schneider, CFO of Prime Shine Car Wash. “The only way for businesses to positively influence this process is to come alongside educators and provide opportunities for them to better understand the expectations of non-academic employers where many of their students will end up.”

“Most of the people involved in formal education in Stanislaus County are amazing, dedicated and hard working—but they are educators and not apprentices, or mechanics, or cashiers, and most of them have not had those experiences,” Schneider continued. “SPIE gives teachers the opportunity to see what it takes to work outside of academia through internships; SPIE connects students with manufacturers; and SPIE connects willing businesses to needy schools. SPIE enables educators to better prepare students by applying real world examples in the classroom, better prepared students get good jobs, and good jobs improve the quality of life in our community. It’s really about our community working to meet our community’s needs.”

As a nonprofit organization, SPIE is governed by a volunteer board of directors comprised of educational leaders, employers, and elected officials that is led by Schneider as president; past president Paula Rafala; president elect Mike Gorassi; secretary/treasurer Ted Dickason; and executive board members Tom Changnon, Kristi Marsella, and Tim Walsh.

“Our board is passionate about SPIE’s mission to ensure that Stanislaus County is an educated and skilled community that provides a qualified workforce to support continued economic wellbeing and improved quality of life for all residents,” said Judie Piscitello, executive director of SPIE. “SPIE encourages local organizations to work together to create learning opportunities and develop young adults as productive members of the workforce and responsible citizens.”

SPIE currently maintains more than 350 active business/school partnerships in which employers work collaboratively with educators to share their skills and expertise and bring firsthand experiences to students in the classroom and at the workplace.

“We are proud of the fact that every school district in our county is a member of SPIE,” said Piscitello. “The partnerships and programs that SPIE supports reach more than 40,000 students in our county each year, and more than 50 percent of them are underserved youth. In addition, over the last five years an average of 141 graduating students per year have been offered summer jobs in manufacturing in this county through SPIE’s Careers in Manufacturing and Industry partnership with Alliance WorkNet, the Manufacturers Council of the Central Valley, Modesto Junior College and Stanislaus County high schools.”

SPIE receives funds from school districts, businesses, individuals and grants. In turn, SPIE provides funds for career education grants and incentive grants to Stanislaus County teachers, and it also funds teacher internships.

In the 2016-2017 school year SPIE is awarding 50 career education grants of $500 each to teachers, enabling them to connect students with the world of work through career exploration programs like career fairs, field trips and community service projects (grants are awarded in a competitive process and schools are required to match the grant amount). SPIE is also awarding 50 grants of $200 each to kindergarten through sixth grade teachers for student incentive rewards such as books, pencils, gift cards and prizes. In addition, SPIE recruits and maintains a database of career education speakers.

This summer, SPIE is also funding business and industry internships for 23 teachers in agriculture, government, energy conservation, nonprofit agencies, manufacturing, technology, and other workplaces where they can learn about current job requirements and enhance their abilities to relate the world of work to their students.

Business/education partnerships like these are essential to SPIE’s continued success and our community’s future,

Schneider observed.

“We are always looking for business owners or their delegates to join the SPIE team,” Schneider said. “If you are hiring high school graduates, you need to be part of what we’re doing, and if you’re an educator, you need to take advantage of what we offer.”

For more information on SPIE visit www.stanislauspartners.com

Modesto Chamber of Commerce I Progress

“… Our board is passionate about SPIE’s mission to ensure that Stanislaus County is an educated and skilled community that provides a qualified workforce to support continued economic wellbeing and improved quality of life for all residents…”

“…The partnerships and programs that SPIE supports reach more than 40,000 students in our county each year, and more than 50 percent of them are underserved youth.”

By Jacqui D. Sinarle

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