When I was much younger (perhaps much, much younger), I was given some advice that “If you are standing still, you are falling behind.” I have followed this piece of advice for much of my life and career. In my mind, there is no place where this holds truer than in the field of education. How sad would it be if educators were not responsive to our ever-changing society? Our classrooms must reflect the world around us if our hope is to prepare our children for college, career, and life-readiness.
Across the nation and here in South Dakota, we are finding that there is a shortage of skilled workers in many professions and career fields. This is really not a surprise as it was predicted years ago that baby boomers would “age out” of the workforce, creating an employment void as career pipelines struggle to keep up with the large number of open positions. The age-old challenge for school districts is to produce skilled graduates that can help fill those openings in a manner that is responsive to advances in technology, innovation, and society. For example, what would happen in today’s workforce if the “product” we put out didn’t understand how to use a computer? The idea is almost silly to think about today, but clearly defines what was once a significant conceptual shift in how we prepared learners in the classroom.
I believe that today, more than ever, we need to ensure that our learners are career ready by the time they graduate high school. In response, the Harrisburg School District has been reformulating its curriculum for career guidance and skills training in grades K-12 in order to better prepare our learners for success once they leave our district. Last year we successfully implemented our Early College at Harrisburg High School. This year, we are bolstering our Career and Technical Education program by continuing to enhance current career clusters, offer new and innovative courses that meet the needs and interests of our learners, and significantly expand our internship program to include a vast array of career opportunities. This has included partnerships with the South Dakota Board of Regents, Southeast Technical Institute, and our most recent push to feature various industry partners within the Harrisburg and Sioux Falls communities. It goes without saying that we need the collaboration and support of businesses and industries in our area in order to ensure that we are providing them with the highly trained employees that they need and that those individuals have the education and training required to be successful.
As always in education, it is an exciting time. For 125 years, the Harrisburg School District has been honored to serve this community, providing an education for all who enter our halls. Please help us support those learning pathways that will help those individuals become the success stories we all wish for them.
Mr. Jim Holbeck
Harrisburg School District