a major negative for individual families or employers weighing lifestyle issues.
Bottom Line: Education Foundation Impact
Relocation Story: www.unioncity-in.com/relocation
Content below shows education's role, and increasing momuntum.
Originally conceived by Purdue University, PLTW has become the spearhead for the STEM and Career Learning initiative in America. This initiative aims directly at the dilemma of effectively teaching the skills necessary for the 21st Century workplace as well as preparation for career-focused higher education.
PLTW's national competition measured, over a two-year time frame, the effectiveness of school corporations in integrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines through grades K-12.
The contest recognized Union City schools (RESC) as a Top 25 schools nationwide. There is something of a Milan beating Muncie Central ("Hoosiers") feeling to this story, a tremendous effort by our administration, teachers and students.
In the timeframe of the contest, we funded over 20 initiatives that were installed through K-12. Here is the comment of Superintendent Aaron Black:
"UC Alum this is something to be proud of. Your support of our Teacher Grants has assisted in making our district 1 of 24 districts in the country recognized for being a "Distinguished District for STEM."
Prior to 1980, most teaching began in textbooks, was reinforced by a lecturing teacher who sat or roamed, and then finalized by tests. A curriculum was essentially stable for many years, although emphasis was occasionally changed by events such as Russia's Sputnik or America's commitment to a man on the moon during the 1960s.
The computer revolution of the 1980s brought teaching from textbook to hands-on interaction with relevant technology. The explosion of internet-driven disciplines (data science, robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, content management, etc.) has demanded constant technology additions and related upgrades of teacher skills and teaching methods.
School funding HAS NOT BEEN INCREASED to specifically fund 21st Century reality, causing schools to prioritize -- often by trying to crystal ball the future. Poorly funded schools are at enormous disadvantage to well-funded schools.
In practice, the burden of these trends falls squarely on teachers who must learn new skills and adapt to hands-on teaching. Historically, teachers have actually been expected to contribute financially. Most Indiana teachers buy project-related supplies with their own money, rarely reimbursed. This practice is cultural, possibly acceptable for something like art supplies, clearly not feasible for $10,000 3D printers.
The Union City Education Foundation, continuing a program initiatied in 2015 by the Alumni Association, has used "Teacher Grants" to fund approximately 20 projects each year for dollar amounts of about $500. The Project Lead The Way victory discussed above is testimonial to the power of this avenue of support of public education.
IT IS OUR INTENT TO GREATLY EXPAND THIS PROGRAM OF INDIVIDUAL PROJECT SUPPORT...
AND TO PROVIDE CUTTING EDGE PROGRAMS THAT DEAL WITH TEACHER MORALE & EFFECTIVENESS.
NOTE: the Covid-19 Pandemic multiplies the validity of all points on this page. And it adds another layer of assault on teacher morale. The need for support is expanding!
Curriculum-focused initiatives are the highest form of projects that the Education Foundation will help become reality. It may be best illustrated by a live example that is also a source of legitimate pride for Union City and the school corporation.
KISS-TV is one of a handful of student-operated television stations. It began humbly in the 1970s as a means to broadcast school events. As the concept of career-prep learning gained momentum, it was realized that KISS was well-positioned to offer education in the field of communication. As the internet gained momentum, it was clear that KISS-TV could actually be a local TV network, creating content, live-streaming shows, discussing advertising with local businesses and developing promotional videos
The range of career-categories being taught expanded exponentially. Today students from neighboring schools are attending KISS-TV classes. A collaborative project is being developed with Ball State University, allowing Union City students to interact with programs taught at the David Letterman Center (next panel).
All this was made possible by timely outside grants, as it represents costs that Union City school budgets could not have supported.
Given today's rapidly expending categories of technology-driven fields, variations of this model are plentiful if affordable.
THE FOUNDATION, WORKING WITH THE SCHOOL, CAN ACCELERATE UNION CITY'S MOMENTUM, OFFERING BOTH HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE AND VISION OF CAREER POSSIBILITIES TO UC STUDENTS. THE VISION AND GOALS OF INDIVIDUAL DONORS CAN BE PART OF THIS CONVERSATION
Union City is a classic example of the devastating impact of the plant closings of the 1980s-90s. Jobs left town. Local businesses closed their doors. Vacant or abandoned lots are both eyesores and a visible symbol of the long fall from "the good old days." But here are factors that provide hope for a much brighter future:
DIRECT CONNECTION BETWEEN SCHOOL AND TOWN
The rendering of Vision Corner > illustrates a project targeted for 2021, located at Columbia and Pearl (the old Apothecary Shop, now an eyesore and painful reminder of the past struggles).
The building will house:
The broad range of topics encompassed in Vision Corner* has already attracted a partnership in communication education with Ball State. Apache Design is a classic entrepreneurial start-up that has operated profitably for decades. And the Internet Cafe positions Union City for participation in small start-up dot.com activity.
To the Education Foundation, this downtown development offers opportunities to support expansion of the scope of Union City education, both current initiatives and selected new initiatives that address constantly changing technology.
* Addressable disciplines: Entrepreneurship, sales, customer service, traditional marketing, data science, coding, 3D printing, robotics, digital marketing/social media, content development, success in the workforce, teamwork, budget planning, cash management, quality control, audio and video content, audio and video production,
Next panel -- part of the revitalization, downtown near Vision Center