ST. PARIS – Graham Local Schools Superintendent Kirk Koennecke and Director of Operations Don Burley presented at the National Rural Education Association’s annual convention Friday, Oct. 14.
The event was held at Ohio State University’s Student Union. The Graham leaders’ presentation, titled “The Power of 17,” was an hour-long look at Graham programs, current research in employment and career training for teenagers and recommendations about embedding career pathways in high schools.
“The power of 17 is about presenting opportunities to young adults in career fields now, before they graduate,” Koennecke said. “We need to make the final years of high school relevant for all students. Our economy and our country can no longer afford to wait for someone to turn 18 and graduate with a high school diploma to involve them in workforce preparation. In fact, Ohio loses an opportunity to capture billions of dollars annually by excluding them.
“Students today can deliver pizzas with a license, but not car parts. They can help an uncle build a car, but cannot work in a shop. They can volunteer in a government office, but cannot work there to support their family. This doesn’t compute,” he said.
Koennecke and Burley spoke to a large audience with delegations from over 39 states. Ohio’s new schools Superintendent Paolo DeMaria gave a keynote address. Battelle for Kids sponsored the event, now in its 108th year.