Superintendent Chris Kobik
ERMA – The Lower Township Economic Development Advisory Committee met Jan. 14 at Lower Cape May Regional High School examining the relationship between economic development and education in the township.
Lower Cape May Regional School District Superintendent Christopher Kobik highlighted the school district’s current programs that reflect a direct connection by design to economic development.
An example is a “Next Generation Entrepreneurs,” a program spearheaded by Curtis Bashaw and Cape Resorts Group using ongoing mentoring and classroom visitations. Students in those business classes also visit the workplace environment, said Kobik.
He said students gain a sense of how learning in the classroom translates to their future in the workplace. The school district’s curriculum has continued to change to include career and technical education programs that include certification programs such as Microsoft Office and courses that include a college credit.
“College isn’t the goal, college may be a stepping stone, a successful career is the goal,” said Kobik.
Other career and technical programs in the school district include accounting, culinary arts, business management, child care and engineering.
Members of the advisory committee toured the high school.
Kobik said the Lower Cape May Regional Educational Foundation is being established to develop a family literacy outreach program and expand mentoring in the school from a volunteer network of community members who could give students “a taste of the real world.” The foundation would also improve communication with the school’s alumni.
“People in the business community really can make a meaningful difference in our students,” he said.
Kobik said the newly-established education foundation would undertake a project called “Real World University” with a goal to connect businesspersons, retirees and parents with school staff to ensure what students are learning in the classroom applies to their future careers.
Kobik discussed the correlation between the quality of education and the economic condition of the community.
“The challenge we accept here is that the school really needs to be the agent for social change and betterment,” he said. “The school in effect becomes an incubator not just for economic improvement but for general social improvement for the community and the culture.”
Those interested in participating in the educational foundation may contact: email@example.com
“We need to improve the economy to help our schools and we need our schools to help us improve the economy,” said Lower Township Deputy Mayor Norris Clark, chairman of the economic advisory committee. “We can’t think about economic development without engaging our next generation as they prepare for the marketplace.”
Clark said the committee is greatly encouraged by Kobik’s commitment to engaging with the region.
Lower Township Third Ward Councilman Erik Simonsen, who is vice principal of the Richard M. Teitelman Middle School, said the number one priority is establishing a clear connection with local businesses. He praised the school district’s curriculum that has been developing toward life skills and careers.