Educators from schools in Marysville, Minster, Kenton, West Milton and other Ohio communities presented new ways to improve learning in the state’s public schools during the Ohio Quality in Education Conference held today near Columbus.
During the conference, a team from Marysville High School showed the power of teamwork and strategic thinking with their project to ease the transition for freshmen entering high school. Results from their pilot project are so compelling that the transition program will be offered to all incoming freshmen in the coming school year.
More than 500 educators attended the statewide education conference that Honda of America Mfg., Inc. and the Ohio Department of Education have co-sponsored for six years. The conference includes presentations by top national educators, as well as Ohio educators.
Based on the theme, “Driven to Succeed,” the conference reflects the goals of both business and education to build quality products and top-level schools. All 14 sessions presented models for implementing quality improvements in education, with many focusing on strategic planning and other initiatives to engage students in educational activities.
While this is the 6th Ohio Quality in Education Conference, Honda of America has been providing quality tools training since 1999 through its Education Outreach Program. More than 16,000 administrators, teachers and students have participated in the program to implement use of the tools with school boards, school administration and into classrooms, where students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning.
“What Honda teaches in schools regarding quality process training is the same thing Honda teaches its own employees,” said Steve Burigana, chief operating officer for the Ohio Department of Education. “We’re seeing teachers and students set goals, develop action plans, and appreciate the contributions of each team member.”
Tom Shoupe, Honda of America Mfg. senior vice president, said companies like Honda benefit as much as the communities from viable schools, and that is why Honda is just as committed to building quality communities as quality products. “Your desire to find new ways to reach your students, new ways to improve your school system and new ways to achieve your goals is an important step toward improvements of all aspects of education,” he told the 500 attendees.
In remarks opening the conference, racecar driver Graham Rahal cited the importance of having everyone on a team focused on the same goal, and on the thorough planning needed to achieve it. “It takes a lot of hard work and experience, along with communications, to build a winning team,” Rahal said. “At the same time, the goals need to be realistic so that the team (the driver, mechanics and engineers) are all on the same page.”
Rahal, who graduated from New Albany High School last year, recounted the teamwork between him and the school that allowed him to graduate while also pursuing his professional racing career. Through a lot of planning and clear expectations, Rahal met his commitment to do his schoolwork while being on the road for many school days in his senior year.
Teachers and administrators from local schools led many of the sessions and described their initiatives to involve students, teachers and administrators in finding new ways to improve education.
A group from Marysville High School formed the same type of quality circle team used by manufacturers to evaluate problems that students have moving from middle school to the high school classroom. Based on their analysis, they created a pilot group of 40 freshmen in mentorship with 12 upperclassmen to help with the high school transition.
Compared with their peers in the regular curriculum, the pilot group had better attendance, fewer discipline problems and more passing grades. The results are so compelling that the high school is implementing its new Freshmen Focus program for all incoming freshmen this fall.
Other local schools presented their initiatives to improve education as well, including:
• Minster Local School District on goal setting and strategic planning.
• Kenton City Schools on implementing a curriculum to get students to take responsibility for their own learning.
• West Milton-Union schools on district-wide goal setting to implement continuous improvements.
Honda of America operates four of Honda’s five manufacturing plants in Ohio. The company’s 12,500 associates produced more than 700,000 cars and light trucks in Ohio last year along with more than 1 million auto engines, while also manufacturing motorcycles.