IBJOpinion

Here's how to help future work force

October 10, 2009
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

Several years ago, I was volunteering in my son’s first grade classroom when one of his classmates asked, “Why are you wearing that?” It took me a moment to figure out what he was referring to.

“Why am I wearing a suit?” I asked. “Because I have to go to a meeting when I leave here.” Then it dawned on me: the young boy was not accustomed to seeing a woman in a suit.

From then on, I’ve encouraged businesspeople—well, everyone, really—to volunteer in and visit our schools, if for no other reason than to expose kids to the professional world and let the kids see that the professional world cares.

If you were disheartened to learn that 39 percent of Indiana students failed one or both of the English and math sections of the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus test, then do something about it. If you have kids in school, volunteer to help in the classroom or with the PTO. If you don’t have kids, call your neighborhood school and ask about volunteer opportunities.

You don’t have to do anything major. Just read with a small group of children. Play a math game with a couple of students, or participate in a one-on-one mentoring project. If you can’t get away from work during the day, offer to help with an evening event or tutor a child. The time you spend will be well worth it.

And if doing for the general good doesn’t move you to action, think about this: You’ll be spending time with your future work force. Start training them now. Start showing them what’s possible today.

The future is up to our kids, and our kids are up to us. Let’s show central Indiana children we care by being present and giving our time.

__________

Jen Schmits Thomas

Jen Thomas PR Inc.

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