Educators, executives meet to exchange ideas

They aim to ready students for global economy

March 25, 2006|By LIZ F. KAY | LIZ F. KAY,SUN REPORTER

Administrators and instructors from nearly a third of Baltimore County's public schools brainstormed about creative strategies yesterday with business and government leaders.

About 100 principals and teachers attended the event, a conference on innovation organized by the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland.

The institute and the county school district have formed a partnership to impart to educators the trends of the global economy and to help them prepare students for future job markets.

The relationship grew out of discussions within the institute's board of directors, which includes county schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston.

Educators in the audience were developing skills to prepare children for the future, Hairston said during a break in the conference. "They're the future employers, and teachers are beginning to understand that," he said.

Mike Galiazzo, the institute's executive director, emphasized the importance of bringing education, business, government and others together to discuss their needs during the conference.

"This is not about training people for work," he said during a break. "This is about educating people for a new kind of global environment in which America is no longer a dominant force."

He compared the future economy to an "economic Olympics."

"If we want to win the gold medal, we've got to learn to work together," Galiazzo said.

Educators were invited from schools with a consistently large number of high-performing students, or those that had made significant gains in performance, according to the school system.

The TIME Center at the Community College of Baltimore County, which supports the manufacturing industry as it strives to meet work force needs, paid the conference fees for about half of the educators, said executive director Ed Fangman. The county school system paid for the others, he said.

Sharon Ward, principal of Elmwood Elementary in Overlea, said it is helpful to hear from the business community. "We need to know what we're aiming for," she said.

Judy Gavin, math department chairwoman at Lansdowne High School, filled pages in a small notebook with questions and ideas from the conference.

She said she was glad she attended and wanted to know more about how industry viewed education and how well students are prepared.

"It definitely motivated me to make broader connections than the ones I already have," she said.

At the beginning of the conference, state Business and Economic Development Secretary Aris Melissaratos outlined the transformation of the Maryland economy and future trends.

The conference is one of several opportunities teachers and administrators will have to trade ideas with business leaders, said school system spokesman Brice Freeman.

According to the school system, Melissaratos will offer workshops for county school administrators in June at the annual Principals' Academy, along with Anirban Basu, an economist, chief executive officer of the Sage Policy Group and Baltimore City school board member.

At the conference, Galiazzo also invited educators to share thoughts about projects and ideas with business leaders in an online forum.

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