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November took the Leadership Central Penn class to the Central Columbia School District’s office for an education round table with superintendents Harry Mathias (Central Columbia), Dr. Donald Wheeler (Bloomsburg), Cynthia Jenkins (Millville) and Director of Curriculum for Berwick, Bob Croop, Jr. The educational leaders had four questions on the agenda, but it became apparently quickly that the LCP class was going the hijack the morning as it continuously challenged the panel on topics ranging from educational innovations, “new’ math, technology in the classroom, property taxes, family school life balance, and the ever changing challenges of teaching the next generation. The panel held its own, and the passion they use every day to meet these challenges and more as they educate our young people was evident.
The class was treated to lunch with a wonderful menu of fresh baked yeast rolls, hot soup and perfectly dressed salad prepared by students from Columbia Montour Area Vocational Technical School. Lunch was delivered and executed under the guidance of Joseph Edmondson, director of food preparation education at CMVT.
After lunch the class welcomed two more guests, Dr. Kim Bolig of Bloomsburg University’s STEM Education Center, and Diana Verbeck, executive director of the Danville Child Development Center. The class saw Powerpoints about the wonderful empowering education being done for young girls and boys, through STEEM Magnet programs at BU. STEM jobs are in great demand and growing in our economy, and this program is meeting the challenges of engaging and exciting young people about the possibilities in these future careers.
As we look to the future, we learned that we need to start planning for that as early as six weeks of age — yes you read that right, six weeks, according to a presentation by Verbeck. Research in neurodevelopment shows that early brain stimulation correlates to success later in life, and it has been widely debated, but the passion of Verbeck and others in the early childhood education field was very evident throughout the presentation. They believe in development through play and tactile education, and the earlier the better. Offering these opportunities to all families regardless of socioeconomic status is imperative and has been echoed by industry leaders and government officials.
One can’t call it a day at Central Columbia without taking a walk on the Career Pathway. Students at this high school have a rare and unique educational experience to begin their career education in ninth grade. You want to be an Engineer; you start on the college prep Engineering, Manufacturing, and Industrial Technology pathway. Four other pathways exist:
- Human Services
- Arts and Communications,
- Business, Finance, Marketing, and Information Technology
- Agri-Science, Science and Health
Students must pick one to focus on as well as a secondary pathway to study. This allows students to get a variety of experiences before making life altering career and college choices. The program is unlike any that any member of the class had experienced before, and it almost made some want to go back to high school.