Teacher Business Boot Camp gives educators a hands-on look at student career options

Posted on: June 20, 2023

Sheri Trusty Special to The News-Messenger

PORT CLINTON – Fifteen local teachers had the opportunity to step out of the classroom to learn about the area’s manufacturing and business world during Ottawa County Teacher Business Boot Camp 2023, held from June 7 to 9. The teachers toured Erie-Ottawa International Airport, Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Luther Home of Mercy, Catawba Island Club, Port Clinton Manufacturing and C. Nelson Manufacturing.

The boot camp was funded through Ohio Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and organized by Katherine Adams, the Manager of Workforce and Career Exploration for the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation.

Camp aims to give educators hands-on experience

“The boot camp is designed as a tool to get educators out of the classroom and get hands-on, real-time experience in the manufacturing and business environment,” Adams said. “When they are done with the week, they will present a project that will be turned into curriculum that can be used in the 6th through 12th grade classrooms.”

On June 9, six of the teachers toured Port Clinton Manufacturing Company with president and owner Dan Stott. After the tour, the teachers spoke with department heads Nathan Berryman, Chad Reno and Richie Pannell, who talked about opportunities in manufacturing and the attributes they look for in potential employees.

Berryman, Reno and Pannell all said they stumbled into manufacturing jobs with little prior knowledge of the field, but each discovered a passion for the work that led to a successful career.

“I fell into the trade, and I love it,” Reno said.

The teachers plan to share their newfound knowledge of career opportunities with their students so they can take viable steps now that will lead to future careers. Teachers will also bring back inspiration as they talk about the practicality of school lessons. Berryman said he uses math daily at work, and Pannell said he was surprised to learn that English language skills are even more important to his career.

Teachers learn skills students need to successfully seek jobs

“You have to know how to talk to people, write emails and communicate to get the jobs you want,” Pannell said.

Julie St. Leger, a Port Clinton High School biology teacher, said she was surprised by what she learned during Teacher Business Boot Camp.

“I was just amazed about how much I didn’t know about businesses in Ottawa County and all the job available,” St. Leger said. “I teach 10th graders, and I can get them thinking about Vanguard and the Skilled Trades Academy and the STNA program.”

St. Leger learned about many opportunities available to students who don’t want to go to college.

“I’ll talk to them about the many different jobs that don’t require a college degree. That’s important to know before we start shoving everyone off to college,” she said.

Edmida Hintz, who teaches students with special needs at Woodmore High School, was also surprised to learn about career opportunities in Ottawa County.

Special needs teacher surprised by need for skilled trades

“It was eye-opening to see the need for skilled trades right in our backyard and to see how businesses are so open to starting workers in internships or at entry level positions and then helping them move up in the company,” she said.

Hintz had the unique opportunity to view the boot camp experience with an eye toward finding jobs her students can pursue with special accommodations.

“I learned at CIC that there are many things they can do in the hospitality field,” she said. “I think my role is to help them advocate for themselves, to help them say, ‘How can we make accommodations so I can do this job?’”

Teacher Business Boot Camp highlighted the many opportunities available to students of all skill levels with a variety of interests. If a student has a desire to work, there is a job for them in Ottawa County.

“I’d love to have a kid work here who is hands-on and a go-getter,” Reno told the teachers. “Some of you have kids in class who can’t sit still. That was me. That’s what I look for in a worker.”