Schools Partner with Businesses to Prepare Students for the Working World

Schools across Arkansas have taken an innovative approach to education by proactively partnering with businesses to better prepare students for the working world. Whether it is involving businesses in curriculum development, or exposing students to potential careers through field trips to company offices, schools have realized the importance of preparing their students for college, career and beyond.

A prime example of a successful partnership between a school and a business can be found at the Pea Ridge Manufacturing & Business Academy (PRMBA) in Northwest Arkansas – a ForwARd community. PRMBA is a conversion charter school, focused on cutting-edge career-technical education. Students from PRMBA have taken field trips to companies such as Tyson Foods, John Deere and Philips to learn real-world applications of their studies in marketing and logistics, plastic and metal fabrication, industrial technology and healthcare and nursing. This past year, PRMBA partnered with J.B. Hunt to employ two students from the marketing and logistics pathway who have remained employed there to this day. By combining classroom curriculum with real-world skills, students at PRMBA are presented with a well-rounded educational experience.

“PRMBA’s strength is its relationship with business partners in Northwest Arkansas,” said Charley Clark, director of PRMBA. “These relationships have allowed us to prepare graduates for an evolving workforce in a thriving economy. Our business partners have input on our curriculum, host classes for business trips, provide guest lecturers, and engage with our pathway instructors to make sure we are teaching content that will help our graduates whether they enter the workforce or attend college.”

This story is not an outlier. Strong relationships between local schools and businesses have demonstrated success in other ForwARd communities across the state:

  1. At the Don Tyson School of Innovation in Springdale, a representative from Today’s Power trained students on software used to manage and monitor solar panels. The solar panels were installed on campus to power a small-produce farm, which will be part of an alternative energy class scheduled to begin this school year.
  2. The Cedar Ridge School District in Independence County has partnered with the FutureFuel Chemical Company to better align their curriculum with what companies are looking for in future employees. FutureFuel engineers spend their time working with faculty to develop relevant pre-engineering and engineering concept curriculum for Project Lead the Way Advanced Manufacturing courses and volunteer time to mentor students in the after-school robotics program.
  3. In the Crossett School District, Georgia Pacific has provided funding to boost literacy, increase the number of students interested in STEM and provide college scholarships to various schools in the community.
  4. The Crossroads Coalition has supported several EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) programs throughout Lee County. The programs are student-driven service projects where students develop teamwork skills and utilize advanced technology to solve complex issues.

As an organization, ForwARd is committed to continuing our work with these communities to cultivate relationships that bring new ideas and approaches to the integration of education and workforce development. I encourage our supporters to find out more information on our work to empower communities on the Where We Work page of our website.