Fifteen Anne Arundel County teachers became students again this week, touring the TV production studio and other areas of Jones Intercable Inc. in search of knowledge to take back to their classrooms about how such businesses work, what career options they offer and what skills students need to be successful.
"I can't justify teaching 'Hamlet' all the time because not everyone is going to go to college," said Carter Nicely, an English teacher at Old Mill Senior High School in Millersville.
"We need to find a way to relate what they're doing in the classroom to what they will do later."
The middle and high school teachers have enrolled in Partners in Education, an educational partnership of local businesses, the Anne Arundel Trade Council and the county's public schools. The Trade Council proposed the partnership to the county school system in June.
"The whole idea is to get classroom teachers to gain knowledge of what happens in the business world to take back into their classroom," said Tom Miller, director of Career and Technology Education for county schools.
Entitled "Free Enterprise . . . How it Works in Maryland," the partnership program was launched late last month at Maryland National Bank in Annapolis, where the first seminar was held. The seminar Monday at Jones Intercable in Gambrills was the second of eight the teachers will attend. In May, the teachers will present projects demonstrating how they will transfer what they learned to their students.
Other seminars are scheduled for Loews Annapolis Hotel, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., American Screen Technology, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, The Baltimore Sun and Westinghouse.
The teachers were chosen on a first-come basis, with preference given to teachers of business and technology education and teachers at the Centers of Applied Technology in Severn and Edgewater. The teachers will receive three in-service credits from the Maryland State Department of Education.
Each seminar begins at 4:30 p.m. and runs until about 9 p.m., with the companies providing dinner. At the end of each seminar, the teachers turn in a critique of the company's presentation.
The Maryland program is modeled after ACES, "Americans for the Free Enterprise System," begun in 1976 in Delaware.
The nonprofit organization, composed of volunteers from the business community, advocates business partnerships with schools.
Jones Intercable General Manager Gary Massaglia joined other company officials Monday in stressing the importance of mastering the three R's and computers. He pointed to the constant change in the business world in general and cable in particular.
The important thing, company officials said, is for students to have a good educational grounding. Thus, as the needs arise in the cable or other industries, they can be trained on the new technology.
If teachers are able to understand how business works and the challenges it faces, Mr. Massaglia said, American students can be better prepared to compete in a global marketplace.
"The bottom line is the students they're trying to help are our future employees," Mr. Massaglia said.