New partnerships in store for Southern

SALINEVILLE — Southern Local Schools has announced some new partnerships, with goals of exposing students to some of the careers and companies where they may be seeking to work one day.

Two project managers from the South Field Energy project in Yellow Creek Township and an administrator from Covington, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in East Palestine, both spoke to the board about forming partnerships.

John Coleman, a project director with South Field Energy, and Steve Rose, a Bechtel project field engineer, spoke about the importance of getting students interested in what studying STEM-related classes can do for their futures.

By focusing on STEM, which incorporates science, technology, engineering and math, students can go into the trades, pursue apprenticeship programs or continue into college studying fields such as computer and engineering.

“I have three kids,” Coleman said. “I always push them to better themselves and the importance of math and science.”

Coleman said his shop teacher encouraged them to get into doing things, learning new things and not being intimidated.

Rose explained to the board Bechtel currently works with the Boy Scouts, with a pathway for youngsters seeking their Eagle Scouts rank by learning welding skills both in a classroom and with practical experience.

They would like to work with the Southern Local Schools to allow students an opportunity visit the plant to see first-hand opportunities and to have engineers and others in the trades come to the schools. The students would also be introduced to people in the trade unions, which often provide on the job training.

The South Field Energy plant will generate electricity from natural gas and is projected to open in 2021 when it will be producing enough electricity to power a million homes.

Similarly, Rocco Parro, the administrator at Covington talked about how he began in the assisted living field by pushing a broom around a facility, working his way up in a business that is meaningful and rewarding. Parro points out it is an aging country and people are living longer, which increases the number of people who need some type of care later in their lives, even if it is just to get them rehabilitated and back into the community.

Additionally, he points out the need for these facilities to do more than just treat the medical needs of their residents. Many people don’t dream of living in a retirement or nursing home, which is why Parro said he believes the home needs to provide real connections, be a “human habitat.”

Parro said he would like to work with students at Southern Local so they will have an idea about and a connection to the many different jobs available in the industry.

Several board members and Superintendent Tom Cunningham expressed an appreciation for the partnerships with the three visitors to Wednesday’s meeting.