Manila CTE Team wins first place

Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Pictured are Manila teachers with team members at the Noble Impact Educators Summit, from left: Nate Reeves, eStem Charter School student; Tonia Eubanks, Manila High School; Emerson Smith, eStem Charter School student; Mary Smith, Manila High School; Bernard Baskin, Bespoke Media Group; Grahm Agee, Manila High School. (photo provided)

Manila Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers recently took first place at the Noble Impact Educators Summit Civic Innovation Challenge held July 27-29 in Little Rock.

Manila teachers Tonia Eubanks, business teacher and Future Business Leaders of America adviser; Mary Smith, Family & Consumer Sciences teacher and Family Career, Community Leaders of America adviser; and Grahm Agee, agriculture teacher and Future Farmers of America adviser, attended the three day professional development event powered by Noble Impact and presented by the Arkansas Department of Career Education.

Ms. Eubanks and Ms. Smith have 34 years in education. Mr. Agee has been with Manila for one year.

Manila's three CTE instructors joined 100 other teachers taking the CTE Civic Innovation Challenge.

The Challenge focused on two key issues within education today.

The teams chose one of two issues, Teacher Recruitment and Retention or Industry Engagement.

Teams were then challenged to present a problem stemming from the issue they chose, and to come up with a solution for that problem.

"Since we don't have a major problem with teacher recruitment and retention, we chose Industry Engagement as our challenge," Eubanks said.

Teams defined their problem statements, brainstormed the solutions, and pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.

They had a short time frame to prepare the challenge and face the judges. There were 11 teams with six to seven participants on each team.

The winning team consisted of the Manila teachers, Bernard Baskin with Bespoke Media Group, eStem Charter School students Emerson Smith and Nate Reeve.

The Manila group identified their problem as the lack of communication between education and industry. They researched statistics, took a census, and carried out a survey to present data supporting their problem to the judges.

"We reached out to contacts on Facebook asking them to take the survey and we had a great response," Mrs. Eubanks said. "One hundred percent of the teachers and parents supported an internship program between students and industry/businesses. Ninety-five percent of the students surveyed were in favor of the internship experience. Sixty-three percent of the surveyed company owners said they would offer internships to high school students if given the chance."

The team's goal was to connect the classroom to the community.

Some of the comments the team gathered included: "Internships allow for real world experience that gives the student an understanding of a career on a first hand basis"; "I was much more prepared to step into the career field and was able to be a successful employee"; "It provided me the real world experience to know what it takes to do what I want."

The plan presented by the winning team will connect local industry, students, community organizations, teachers and parents. The benefits include giving industry potential employees; giving information to teachers on skills to teach and which students they might recommend to fill the needs of the industry; and showing students what skills they need to work on.

The Lions Pride, Join the Pride, was the name chosen for the project, which will begin in the form of an on-line job/community board.

The team won a plaque and each of the three educators will receive $3,000 to promote their project of connecting industry/businesses with the classroom.

"We hope to establish an internship program for our students," Eubanks said.

The teachers are planning to create a source of communication between students and industry providing information on openings and skills and certifications needed, internships and information to help prepare students for their future.

In addition to the hands on training the group enjoyed visits to the Clinton School of Public Service, Arkansas Innovation Hub and Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Among the speakers at the Clinton School of Public Service were the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Jahana Hayes; Rainbow Chen, student representative Vermont State Board of Education; Lisa Gelobter, chief digital service officer, U.S. Department of Education; Patrick Jones, YouTube math tutor, author of Calculus for Dummies; Jacob Johnston, student entrepreneur, co-founder of; Warwick Sabin, senior director, U.S. Programs, WinRock International; and Jose Vilson, founder, EduColor.

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