A free new online tool could make it easier for North Carolina teachers to find out about internships, apprenticeships, guest speakers and other business resources that their students can use.
The new Navigator website (https://wblnavigator.org) is billed by its developers as a one-stop marketplace that will allow the business community to post online what it can offer and let teachers “shop” for what services best fit their students’ needs. Navigator will be officially unveiled Friday at the Experience More Summit for Work-Based Learning in Durham and will be connected to the state Department of Public Instruction’s NCEdCloud system on Dec. 12.
Navigator was developed through a partnership between the Governor’s Office, Fidelity Investments and the North Carolina Business Committee for Education.
“In a 21st century economy, we can make every day career day, and to succeed in connecting education to careers, putting employers and educators together to give students a real taste of the skills they need,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news release Wednesday. “The Navigator platform streamlines this connection and helps our students get real-world exposure that will help them chart the best educational path.”
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There’s a greater focus now on work-based learning, in which students get real-life work experiences that can guide them into what they’ll do after they complete their schooling. But some business and education leaders say it hasn’t been easy connecting both worlds.
“We hear so many times from teachers that they’d like to provide work-based learning but they just don’t know how,” said Caroline Sullivan, executive director of NCBCE. “This helps fosters relationships between employers and schools.”
Thomas Ryan, senior vice president and North Carolina regional leader of Fidelity Investments, said three Fidelity employes worked on their own time over the past 10 months to develop Navigator.
The website helps fulfill Fidelity’s mission of serving the community, Ryan said. One of the resources on Navigator will let teachers know that Fidelity employees can visit their classes to talk about financial literacy.
“Our folks want to interact with the community and use their skills to better the community,” said Ryan, who was a middle school teacher for seven years.
Ryan said Navigator is also an opportunity to introduce students to future career opportunities, including at Fidelity. Another opportunity on Navigator will allow female students to travel to Fidelity’s campus at Research Triangle Park to learn about technology careers.
Other groups, including Dell Technology, GSK, Lenovo and the N.C. court system, have started posting resources on Navigator.
“This will be a fantastic way for teachers to come together with business and industry partners who want to connect with schools,” said LaTanya Pattillo, Gov. Cooper’s teacher advisor.
Pattillo said there were many ways she could have used Navigator when she was a business education teacher in Columbus County, such as going to a graphic design company as part of a lesson on graphic design. She said she could have connected students doing advanced projects to companies that would provide mentors and internships.
Navigator can also help provide rural school systems with the same work-based learning opportunities found in more urban areas.
“It would be a very powerful tool to help areas where resources are limited and where you’re not quite sure where you can go with work-based learning,” Pattillo said. “This can provide a window.”