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Teachers get ‘real world’ lesson

By Staff | Oct 24, 2013

For some of these teachers, it had to feel like an episode of “The Apprentice,” where they had to form teams so they could name, brand, and even sell their creation to a team of marketing whizzes.

Approximately 40 of Lee County’s finest teachers and administrators gathered at the public education center on Tuesday afternoon to participate in a three-hour “Creative Squeeze?Off” workshop, a team-building exercise designed to demonstrate the deadline-driven realities students can expect when they enter the workforce.

Christopher Spiro, CEO and creative director of Spiro & Associates Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations in Fort Myers, led the hands-on workshop that helped participants better understand what will be expected of students when they enter the “real world.”

The purpose of the teacher immersion program was to bring current tech education teachers and math and science teachers into the community because teachers sometimes don’t get the chance to see what’s going on.

“They need to know the skills the students need, what makes a person employable,” said Sue Roshon. “If we put students out on internships it helps that student, but if we put a teacher and bring them out and see what they need, it affects 200. We need our teachers to understand what their students need.”

Before the exercise, Spiro gave a presentation to the educators on how the workforce has changed over the past few years, from the way a business runs to what is expected of a young worker today.

“It’s an environment where we do more with less. I’ve never worked harder. Technology is expected of people,” Spiro said. “Work ethic isn’t there anymore. It’s no longer the first one in and the last one out.”

He also said that today’s workers can expect to author their own existence. All that’s out there people have access to.

“For $99, I can learn everything there is to know about someone when I do a background check,” Spiro said. “If I see someone with a DUI or domestic violence against them, I won’t hire the person.”

The teachers were broken into eight groups and given a task, in 30 minutes, where they had to develop a curriculum that teaches life skills students need for success.

The teams had to brand their product with a name and a logo and present their concept of the teacher immersion program to the other participants and members of Spiro’s staff for judging.

The winning logo and brand will be professionally executed by Spiro’s agency. Last year’s program was “Partners in Education.”

The exercise was a great learning experience for teachers and administrators alike, especially for Jennifer Curls, technology teacher at North Fort Myers High School.

“I do a lot of this in my class. I teach graphic design and we do a lot of logo competitions so it’s very similar,” Curls said.

Darya Grote, assistant principal at Mariner High School, thought it was a wonderful experience, not just from an administrator’s point of view, but from a teacher’s.

“Now they know what they can bring back to the students in terms of the job skills needed and what they need to work on and get out into the workforce and produce,” Grote said, adding she learned about multitasking and cross-training so you’re not stuck in one specific task.

Spiro said he was very impressed by the ideas he saw in such a short time, and the winning design was “Learn to Earn.”

Spiro said what the teachers are trying to do for the local business community is important because it creates a conduit for them to return to the area after college to enter the workforce.

“They can come back to Southwest Florida and become valuable employees that rise above the others coming to this market and get hired,” Spiro said. “There’s more than just earning a degree, it’s the intangibles.”