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Tyler’s Talent is All About Mentoring Meaningfully

Students gain skills learning from business leaders.

By Laura Hill on June 24, 2020

Tyler TX
Tyler / Frank Ordoñez

As Tyler students prepare for their future careers – beginning in elementary school – the area’s business leaders are helping them make the transition from school to the workforce.

From advanced manufacturing companies to hospitality and medical firms, businesses are stepping up to lend their expertise and experience to the upcoming generation of workers, whether they want to look for a job after obtaining a four-year college degree, a two-year associate degree or an advanced certificate-level training.

One bulwark of this effort is the Tyler Area Business Education Council. Formed in 2012 as a partnership between the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce and the city of Tyler, the organization seeks to “ensure that local workforce needs are properly aligned with available educational programs and skills training.†Working with schools, businesses, colleges and universities, and government, its goal is to ensure that by 2025 60% of Smith County residents possess a post-high school credential.

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Among the most successful programs sponsored by the council and the chamber is the C4 Career Connections Event, an annual day when hundreds of high school juniors and seniors meet with area professionals. This year’s January conference, held at Tyler Junior College, gave students opportunities to ask questions, get career tips and practice interview and resume writing skills. Among the career areas they could explore were agriculture, architecture, business, communication, education, finance, health sciences, information technology, law, manufacturing, marketing and public service.

Fulfilling Potential

Similarly, the Mayor’s Mentorship Achievement Program (MAP) brings students and professionals together in an extended relationship. Founded in 2016, MAP was the vision of Mayor Martin Heines, who hoped a professional mentoring program would help students realize their full educational potential. The fall 2019 program brought together 22 students and a similar number of professionals. Students will meet throughout the year with their mentors, participating in monthly programs with them.

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“The mentoring process connects students with community business leaders to help to shape students’ lives in college, career and life readiness,†says Dr. Jennifer Jones, Tyler ISD director of guidance and counseling. “MAP mentors play an integral part in strengthening student educational outcomes, postsecondary success, and building our future workforce.”

Business and professional leaders learn how schools work and what they need through the Principal for a Day program, where they have the opportunity to shadow a principal, meeting with students, attending faculty meetings, visiting classrooms, sitting in on parent meetings and more. Visits help build ongoing relationships between the business world and educators.

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Career & Technology Center

An integral part of the relationship between the work world and education is the Tyler ISD Career & Technology Center, where students can explore career possibilities as well as earn college credit, professional certifications and licensures before graduation. Open to high school juniors and seniors, the campus offers training in fields as diverse as veterinary medicine, criminal justice, welding, education, graphic design, and sports and entertainment marketing. In some areas, students participate in real-life work situations or internships or bring the work world into their school as senior culinary arts students do with their Culinary Café. The café serves snacks, breakfast and lunch, which they prepare themselves under faculty supervision.

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Also helping students launch real-life careers is the Northeast Texas Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME), founded in 2019 and part of the national FAME organization. FAME acts as a conduit between students and employers, aiming to develop a well-trained workforce while, at the same time, offering students opportunities for well-paid careers. Through its Advanced Manufacturing Technician program, students attend community college while working for local employers, earning 60 college hours, an associate degree and 1,800 hours of marketable work experience.

If you’d like to learn more about the Tyler area, check out the latest issue of Livability: Tyler, TX

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