April Voice 2019

Page 4


| APRIL 2019

theVoice • rockfordchamber.com

Guest Perspective insight

Let’s retain our best and brightest Taking it ‘beyond college prep’ One of the biggest challenges in our community is the lack of a qualified workforce. Yet, for many years, we have been losing our brightest and most talented youth to bigger cities like Chicago. In some ways, I believe it’s because we have failed to show them the opportunities available right in their own backyard. Today, we think there’s a way for business and education to work together toward mutual goals. Our goal is to graduate students who will be tomorrow’s leaders. We want to teach them the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful in their future careers, including: ■■ The ability to think critically and creatively ■■ An entrepreneurial spirit ■■ Constant curiosity ■■ The ability to translate theory into practice and apply lessons to real-world problem solving The goal of business is clearly to keep those leaders in Rockford. Getting students excited about local career opportunities is a key part of keeping them here.

Beyond College Prep

Community Collaboration To prepare tomorrow’s leaders, For our older students a big part will is Key we need to think differently about be developing exploratory opportunities education, both in what we teach and how we teach. We need to innovate in our classrooms at the pace of innovation outside of our classrooms. We have to extend learning to environments and experiences beyond what students can get in a classroom setting. There’s a need for something bigger and better. With that in mind, Keith School recently introduced a continuous learning approach called “Beyond College Prep.” Beginning in the upcoming school year, we will enhance our already highly successful academic approach with two one-week intersessions in 2019/20 – one in the fall and one in the spring. In the 2020/21 school year, we’ll grow that to four one-week intersessions. Rather than taking away classroom time, we augment it with additional days learning outside the traditional classroom. In these intersessions, we will offer programmed activities and experiences appropriate for students at each grade level.

Career Exploration Opportunities

for these curious minds to help them grow and gain insight into their career interests. These opportunities could include job shadowing and deep-dive visits to local and regional businesses. For our seniors, we’ll take it a step further with customized week-long programs based on their career interests and goals. They’ll have new opportunities to gain first-hand insight and possibly internships from our community partners. We want to arm them with as much information as possible – before they go to college and choose a major. The more we can expose our students to different workplaces, fields of study and working environments, the closer they’ll get to that eureka moment of knowing: “This is what I want to do, and this is where I want to work.” Just as important, they’ll gain insight into what they don’t want to do. By doing so, we’ll have more college graduates who are excited about their career choices once they enter the workforce.

Urban Blight

Legislation takes aim at fentanyl

triggering the formal statutory process that is imposed on non-home rule municipalities including Rockford. Senate Bill 2097 gives counties authority to purchase blighted properties to renovate them for resale and keep the profits of the sale in order to renovate more homes. Both measures passed out of committee this week and head to the Senate floor for a vote. theVoice

Senate Bill 199 could put illegal selling and possession of fentanyl on the same level as heroin. Fentanyl now is the drug most frequently involved in overdoses in the United States, according to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, but current Illinois criminal law treats it as a lesser threat. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. While commercially sold as a prescription pain reliever, much of the drug involved in overdoses and deaths is made illegally. It is often mixed in with heroin and cocaine by dealers. SB 199 creates a Class 1 felony penalty structure for the illegal possession of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, targeted at illegal dealers and suppliers of the drug. It passed the Senate Criminal Law committee unanimously and now is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.

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Source: Sen. Stadelman’s Weekly Bulletin March 15, 2019

Source: Sen. Syverson’s Week in Review: March 18-22, 2019

Dr. Robert Willis Keith Country Day School

To make this approach a success, it’s critical to have involvement at all levels of the community. The Rockford Chamber has wholeheartedly joined our cause, and we’ve confirmed community organizations and businesses willing to invest their time and energy in providing experiences for our students that will set them – and our region – apart.

Helping our youth gain insight and inspiration … outside of a traditional classroom is critical to cultivating and maintaining talent that will impact our regional economic development. We’ve already partnered with local and regional businesses, government agencies, cultural organizations, educational institutions and non-profits. But there’s room for many more. Helping our youth gain insight and inspiration in exploring careers and areas of interest outside of a traditional classroom is critical to cultivating and maintaining talent that will impact our regional economic development in the long run. If you would like to be part of this uniquely different program and help us inspire young leaders, grow our talent and grow our region, please contact us. Dr. Robert Willis is interim head of school for Keith Country Day School. He can be reached at robert.willis@keithschool.net. The views expressed are those of Dr. Willis’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.