Aug. 6—OXFORD — Oxford city educators boarded school buses Thursday morning on their way to first-hand experience with locally available careers that could benefit their students right after graduation.
Jobs within those careers could help the young men and women "earn a family-supporting wage," as Oxford school board member Don Hopper put it.
The teachers were greeted at several of Calhoun County's industries and given the opportunity to tour the plants and get briefings on what types of positions are required to make those facilities operate.
"If you are successful, the industries are successful, and if they are successful, our community is successful," Superintendent Dr. Shannon Stanley told the teachers. "We want you to know how you fit into the bigger picture of economic development. You are the foundation of a thriving community, businesses, and industry. This is about being to connect with what goes on after high school."
Among the industries visited by the educators during the half-day in-service program were Kronospan, Auto Custom Carpets, Bridgewater Interiors, Associated Metalcast, and Doncasters.
Oxford spokesperson Lorie Denton, who organized the event, told the teachers the visits were designed to allow them to see what is not ordinarily seen by the general public.
"The stereotype of industry is generally not good," Denton said. "We've been working hard for several years to change that. Most people think it's low wage, dark conditions, and terrible environments. That's just not the case and the 67 manufacturing industries in Calhoun County prove that. These industries have so many career opportunities to offer for your students of which they are probably not aware."
Denton said the teachers' assistance in informing students of the career opportunities would not be possible "without me being able to show them to you."
Hopper, who is also executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Council, told the educators they are vital in fulfilling the number one request of both existing and prospective industries.
"Our job is to sell Calhoun County," Hopper said. "We spend all our time with our existing and new industries looking at our community. The number one question we are asked is, 'Where am I going to get people?'"
"You produce the product these people need," Hopper told them. "Our biggest product is our high school graduates. One of our biggest customers is our industries. You are the ones who spend time with these students and know the ones with the aptitudes to fill the jobs you are going to see today where they can earn a family-supporting wage."