published Monday, October 24th, 2011

Cleveland chamber connects students, professionals in Bradley County

By Paul Leach, Correspondent
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The school year is well under way and so are several Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce programs to unite the business community with local students.

The programs encourage partnerships, placing business leaders in the classroom and students in the work environment, according to Sherry Crye, director of workforce development for the Bradley/Cleveland Chamber of Commerce.

They focus on preparing high school students for the workplace.

Business leaders will speak to Bradley Central High School students as part of two programs within the next two months: "Ethics in the Workplace" on Tuesday and "Business/Industry in the Classroom" on Nov. 29 and 30. Dates for Walker Valley High School and Cleveland High School talks have not been determined.

"I know that 45 minutes about ethics does not change a life," Crye said.

However, she said, the presentations arean important part of delivering a consistent message to students about what kinds of attitudes and behaviors they will need when they join the workforce.

Bradley Central and Walker Valley will tie in the "Business/Industry in the Classroom" program with their "Career Management for Success" classes, said Arlette Robinson, career and technical director for Bradley County Schools.

The presentations allow local business representatives to give students a taste of some of the career paths available to them. They are a way to get the students to "look beyond high school" and see how the things they are learning and doing now will influence their lives, Robinson said.

In the meantime, the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce's job shadowing event will place high school students in local workplaces Nov. 9 and 16. More than 300 applications have been received by the job shadowing committee.

The event reaches across all types of industry, business and post-secondary education opportunities. Event programmers try to make the best matches between career exploration and the skills and interests of applying students, said Debra Miller, director of Perkins Grants at Cleveland State Community College.

The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce also has united Geico with Lake Forest Middle School and Wholesale Supply Group with E.L. Ross Elementary through its Business and Education Serving Together program.

The partnerships match Chamber member businesses with local schools so that they can support each other as they see fit.

"Each relationship is unique," Crye said. "Schools always need outside help, and schools can give back to business."

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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