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Annual Business Summit will focus on advanced careers

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From Aug. 27-29, business, industry, financial and political leaders from throughout the Mountain State will gather for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Business Summit.

During the 78th annual meeting at The Greenbrier Resort, topics ranging from politics, energy and education will be front and center during debates and discussions.

The phrase “college-and-career ready” is scheduled to receive a lot of the fanfare. The topic of advanced career placement will be discussed in an education session led by Senate Education Committee Chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne.

Plymale, treasurer of the Southern Regional Education Board, said advanced career placement is being expanded in conjunction with Senate Bill 359, which was passed in the 2013 legislative session and commonly referred to as Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's education bill.

In 2013, Tomblin gave the West Virginia Board of Education the charge to require every career center in West Virginia to adopt or develop at least one career pathway that meets SREB standards for advanced career placement. According to Plymale, the anticipated date for implementing that challenge from Tomblin is 2015, with teachers already having been paid a stipend and receiving training for three years. According to Plymale, the SREB has actively participated in bringing the Advanced Career Initiative to the Mountain State.

According to SREB's website, the board “works with 16 member states to improve public education at every level, from pre-K through Ph.D.”

In addition to the Mountain State, other member states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Okalahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Each of the nine initial states participating in the Advanced Career Initiative selected an area of focus. West Virginia chose energy and power.

Through the program, Plymale said students will gain more than just a theoretical concept of careers relating to energy and power.

“We picked something with real situations where kids can interact,” he said. “Students experience real situations.”

Additional areas of focus include aerospace engineering; innovations in science and technology; STEM education and training; integrated production technologies, informatics; global logistics; project management; automated materials joining technologies, health informatics; clean energy and technology.

To help students along their educational career paths, math and literacy coaches will be on hand. The advanced career model consists of four career/technical courses in a specific career field and calls for the application of Common Core State Standards. Students can potentially earn dual credit, with the courses themselves being transportable among states and schools.

Plymale said the Benedum Foundation's role will be discussed, in addition to highlighting SREB's role in bringing advanced career placement to the Mountain State.

According to SREB's website, work “is funded by member appropriations and by grants and contracts from foundations and local, state and federal agencies.”

Through Benedum Foundation funding, career exploration and career pathways have been integrated into schools, allowing students to get a jump start on the many career possibilities awaiting them once they walk across the graduation stage and receive diplomas.

 

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