For fourteen years, the Chamber of Commerce of Sandusky County has been partnering with local businesses and education entities, including Terra State Community College, to introduce fourth and fifth graders to the “world of work”. The REACH career education program matches mentors from the partner organizations with classes from elementary schools throughout Sandusky County. In fact, every elementary school is able to participate through the financial assistance and volunteers from the partners.
REACH is guided by a curriculum designed by the Marion Area Chamber of Commerce and The Ohio State University – Marion. Each mentor is given a book of lesson plans that focuses on topics like “Exploring the World of Work,” “Jobs that Match My Talents and Interests,” “Habits and Attitudes that Make Good Workers,” and “Communication.” A total of ten lessons is taught, including a trip to the workplace of their mentor.
Cory Stine, Terra State Community College’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Terra College Foundation, has been a REACH mentor for many years. Most recently he has worked with students from Otis Elementary in Fremont. “REACH really reinforces good work ethics and habits,” Stine says of the program. “It opens the possibilities for the students to understand that there are more careers than just nurses, doctors, teachers, firemen and policemen.”
Stine is not the only mentor from Terra State. Admissions Recruiters Tabitha Metz and Elise Emly mentor a class from Woodmore School. Metz could see the excitement in the students’ eyes. “With every lesson, I would see the students’ eyes light up as they made connections about how teamwork, communication, and decision making skills were a part of their everyday lives. The students were full of questions, they always had something to add to the discussions.” Emly reflects on her time with REACH. “Visiting these students became my favorite part of my month. I can only hope that these students will continue applying what they learned in the program in their lives and future careers.”
The REACH program launched in seven Green Springs School classrooms in 2003. It has benefited over 7,100 students, including 825 this school year in thirteen schools.