Completed Projects - [ Learn to Work ]

Learn to Work


The Learn To Work project, begun in 1996, was designed to help teachers apply workplace skills and practical application of industrial processes to classroom content; prepare them as leaders in their local districts to support workforce education, and serve as liaisons between industry and local school systems.

Phase One of the project focused on the development of a three-week workshop to provide teachers with a knowledge of the skills required by students entering the workplace, the content knowledge to develop these skills in their students, and the skills to provide in-service training to teachers in their school districts. A Leadership Team composed of twelve outstanding high school physics teachers and Tech Prep teachers, guided by Peavey personnel and Mississippi State University and Meridian Community College faculty, spent a three-week internship with Peavey Electronics developing the workshop.

Phase Two of the project was the implementation phase. Members of the Leadership Team, Peavey personnel and Mississippi State University and Meridian Community College faculty conducted the workshop twice during each summer it was offered. Each team consisted of a physics teacher and a Tech Prep teacher from the same school district. A total of144 teachers were trained to integrate manufacturing experiences into their curriculum, to offer in-service to local school districts, and to work with local industries to utilize the manufacturing experiences for teachers modeled by this project.

Academic year follow-up included site visits to schools of participants and one-day workshops to enhance classroom implementation. Conferences and one-day workshops were held during the four-year period with some being conducted through interactive audio and video on the Mississippi Community College Network and through interactive audio via satellite.

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The Problem

It is common for newly-graduated students to enter the workplace without many of the necessary skills needed to complete specific tasks or projects in their field. In school students usually are taught "what" to do but not "how" or "why".

A recent high school graduate finds that she is ill-equipped to get a skilled job in microphone manufacturing. She knows nothing about the practical applications of magnetism in microphones. Her physics teacher has never visited a local microphone manufacturing company -- until now.

A graphics designer, starting her first job out of school, finds that her ads must be printed on "film" and developed by a process in which she was not taught in college. Her professor has never visited or worked in an advertising department or agency.

A recently graduated electrical engineer finds himself reassigned from the design department because he had not been taught how to design circuit board layouts in college. His professors have never visited a design department of an electrical engineering business and do not know that designing circuit boards is a necessary skill.

The Solution

Making connections between the information in a textbook and practical applications in the workplace has caused instructors to alter their teaching methods to include relevancy as a key ingredient.. In doing so, they've found that students' interests were heightened when a connection was made to what the instructor said and " what a job that paid dollars" actually required. The end result is that students are learning instead of merely memorizing.

Recently an office education teacher spent three weeks getting " hands-on" experience during a visit to a large business. She was given the opportunity to transcribe monthly sales reports and was surprised at how completely different the " real-world" tapes were compared to the tapes her students transcribed in class. While the school's instructional tapes are dictated slowly at a constant volume level and enunciated with perfect grammar, the "real" tapes were dictated in rapid fashion with incomplete sentences, were at times inaudible, and were dictated in industry slang. This instructor returned to her classroom with the "real" tapes for her students to transcribe.

An electronics technology teacher from a community college "worked" on an assembly line as a quality inspector during the summer for a company that manufactures power amplifiers. What he discovered was that the information being taught from the textbooks did not relate to the jobs at this company, the largest private employer in the area. He returned to his students with practical applications of electronics technology.

A newly-hired instructor from a community college was asked to develop a new career path in the field of graphic communications. His first step was to create a " partnership" with a local business to get two of his students into their graphic communications department for " hands-on" experience. By working side-by-side with professionals in this area, the students were able to return to their class and use the information and skills learned in a real working environment.

The Proposal

Dr. Sandra Harpole, Professor of Physics at Mississippi State University, attended a conference in which Melia Peavey, President of Peavey Electronics Corporation, was the keynote speaker. Melia Peavey's challenge to the audience to become more involved in manufacturing caused Dr. Harpole to imagine a program involving teachers participating in a workplace, such as Peavey's, for the purpose of learning relevant educational experiences to give to their students.

That was just the beginning. Subsequent meetings with Peavey, initiated by Dr. Harpole, set the stage for the involvement of the NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION in this national educational endeavor. Although there have been (and continue to be) many " educators in the workplace" initiatives, none have compared to the partnership envisioned by Dr. Harpole and Melia Peavey. The extensive diversification of Peavey Electronics Corporation allows for the development of many different "practical" demonstration models for the classroom.

The Partnership

To accomplish the desired goals of RELEVANT EDUCATION, three powerful leaders have come together to make this vision a reality.

National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation
Mississippi State University
Mississipi State University
Peavey Eletronics Corporation
Peavey Electronics Corporation

Learn To Work

This program is a giant step towards maximizing the potential of our youth, our most valuable resource, and in helping them to lead a more productive, enjoyable life.

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Mr. Hartley Peavey, CEO
Mr. Jere W. Hess, Jr., Director of Public Relations and Education
711 A Street
Meridian, MS 39301

Mr. Mike Alma, Plant Manager
Mr. George Meyers, Personnel Director
P. O. Box 4396
Meridian, MS 39304-4396

Mr. H. Wayne Henson, Director, Engineering Support Services
P. O. Box 5517
Meridian, MS 39302-5517

Mr. Charlie Walker, Personnel Director
P. O. Box 260
Newton, MS 39345

Mr. Charles B. Holder, President
P. O. Box 349
Bay Springs, MS 39422

Mr. Huntley Biggs, Executive Director, Mississippi Power Foundation
and Manager, Education Services
P. O. Box 4079
Gulfport, MS 39502-4079

Dr. D. L. Durham, Technical/Deputy Director
1020 Balch Blvd.
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-5005

Ms. Rhonda Scott, PIP Coordinator
P. O. Box 1830
Columbus, MS 39703-1830

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Learn To Work workshops were three-week teacher development workshops for physics and Tech Prep teachers of high school students. Twelve teams of teachers were selected for each workshop, each team consisting of a physics teacher and a Tech Prep teacher from the same district.

During the summer of 1996, eleven experienced teachers of physics, mathematics, and technology met at Peavey Electronics and Mississippi State University to begin work on a project which incorporated workplace experiences into the curriculum. Over a three-week period, these teachers had hands-on experiences at Peavey and participated in all aspects of Peavey operations from guitar design to inventory applications. Two weeks were spent at Mississippi State University in the physics laboratory designing laboratory activities with industrial applications. It was soon evident that physics, math, and technology concepts needed to succeed at the music-oriented Peavey Electronics were also useful for other industries such as telecommunications, power generation, manufacturing and electronics.

These eleven Mississippi high school teachers comprise the Leadership Team for the Learn to Work project. With the assistance of Co-Project Directors, Dr. Sandra H. Harpole, Professor of Physics and Director of the Center for Science, Math and Technology, and Mr. Jere Hess, Director of Public Relations and Education at Peavey Electronics, four members of the Leadership Team directed the 1997 summer workshops.

Participants of the 1997, 1998, and 1999 Summer Workshops spent two weeks on the Mississippi State University campus and one week at Peavey Electronics Corporation. At Peavey Electronics Corporation teachers learned applications of physics to the manufacturing environment and strengthened their teaching through industrial experiences. In the time spent on the Mississippi State campus, teachers' science and technology backgrounds were assessed to determine specific areas where enhancement was needed. These needs were then addressed with curriculum designed to enhance content knowledge as it relates to manufacturing experiences. Participants were also trained as local leaders to incorporate real-life applications into the curriculum and as liaisons with local industries in order to provide local teachers with manufacturing experiences.

Workshop Materials Received:

Participant Support:

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The Learn to Work project created a model teacher professional development program centered on the analyzing science and mathematics principles employed in the tasks of the modern workplace, examining the use of technology in the workplace, and understanding the values necessary to be a successful and productive employee. One component of the Learn to Work professional development program, teacher development of student activities the focus on work-related skills in the context of learning science and mathematics, sets the project apart from many of the more conventional teacher professional development programs offered by universities as a part of their outreach mission.

Through a partnership with Peavey Electronics in Meridian, MS, the Learn to Work project offered summer workshops and academic year follow-up activities to over 100 teachers. Industrial work related experiences at Peavey Electronics Corporation, Meridian, MS and other industrial sites coupled with summer classroom and laboratory experiences and academic year follow-up guided teachers in an initiative to integrate manufacturing experiences into their science, mathematics and technology courses. Student activity-based modules were developed by the teacher teams as a part of the Learn to Work project, primarily to give teachers the opportunity to integrate relevant work-related skills into classroom lessons.

The following links provide access to these teacher-created experimental modules or activities:

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The Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology currently has four publications that are available to the public. These publications describe the projects in which we are involved. The following is a list of the publications:

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