Independence Local Schools and the City of Independence are partnering to prepare students for life after high school.  For the past year, school administration has worked with the City of Independence economic director Jessica Hyser as well as Structured Creativity Consulting, who works with educators and businesses to ensure that individuals have the tools they need to be successful in the workplace.

Jessica Hyser, director of economic development for the City of Independence and a graduate of Independence High School, and Norm Potter, owner of Structured Creativity Consulting spoke to the Board of Education at their meeting on October 18.

This future readiness initiative is an exciting opportunity for students.  “The partnership between the schools, city and Structured Creativity will help us explore and develop future-ready programming for students at all grade levels,” said Superintendent Ben Hegedish, Independence Local Schools. 

“Our goal is to build a connection with the 800 businesses we have in Independence with the primary, middle and high school,” said Hyser.  “Some of these companies that are coming into our area, or have been here awhile, are all trying to be creative in finding ways to get and grow employees. So the connections that we are making with our school district are going to be able to help our workforce grow and stay in this region, and most importantly, help our graduates have employment opportunities in their future.”

Potter has met with all three principals and has helped determine the programs and activities that are working well and those opportunities that can move the district forward to prepare their students for whatever lies before them after graduation. He also has created “think tanks” of representatives from all three buildings to customize a program that meets the needs of our students in Independence.

“We have a wealth of opportunities here in Independence, with small class sizes and a huge amount of business, I think there is an amazing opportunity to create a program for your students,” said Potter.  “When a student leaves high school, we want them to have a plan. That plan, whatever it may be, is well thought out through a good process and has backing.”

In March, teachers will have the opportunity to do some site visits at local businesses to see what other workforces do, how they are evaluated, and how they get people ready for those positions.  

“We are trying to build these robust connections while we help our own teachers understand future readiness and how to embed that into the classroom,” said Hegedish.

Independence Local Schools has had a business-school partnership program since the 1990s and also appreciates the work and partnership of the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center with the district.  In the past, businesses have stepped forward to help provide internships, tours, career advice, as well as donations of time, resources and funds.  They have and hopefully will continue to play a significant role in so many of our students’ lives.