Developing Our Future Workforce

From preschool through college programs, educators use the latest research, tools and techniques to update curricula and help students learn skills for lifelong success.

Students who can experiment and problem-solve

Today, early childhood educators consider the processes through which children develop and learn, but they also pay attention to the content of what they’re learning, observes Dr. Sandra S. Dahl, owner/director of Kids Express Learning Center, Inc. (KELC). “Nationally, teachers are examining Common Core Standards (CCS)—which Wisconsin has accepted—as they try their best to give children the skills and knowledge needed to be successful,” she says. 

“Teachers need to immerse themselves in these standards as they plan learning environments designed to have a positive impact on children’s success,” adds Dahl, who earned her Ph.D. in education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Guiding children to experiment and problem-solve in each of the curricular areas helps young learners prepare for the classrooms they’ll join in future years. Kids Express Learning Center’s (KELC) administrators and teaching teams meet throughout the school year to carefully review each area of our curriculum.”

For more than seventeen years, she notes, KELC has built its reputation on quality and accountability. “Visiting parents tour our center and observe skilled teachers actively involved in guiding children’s learning through experimenting with ideas, expressing original thoughts, working in unique environments, and being exposed to the natural world—our school forest, animal center, pond, gardens—that comprises the school campus.”

She’s proud that KELC is an accredited Center of Excellence that attracts high-quality teachers with college degrees. “They’ve created the reputation we enjoy and celebrate,” she says. “Their compassion and creative talent make our classrooms positive, nurturing places for young children and their families. Without our devoted teachers and their hard work, KELC would just be a unique, wooded property.

“When I walk into a KELC classroom, I note smiling children, engaged teachers, child-centered activities, and creative art projects,” she continues. “Products take a back seat to the process of learning, and children’s self-expression is evident everywhere. When I hear children’s voices dominating a classroom, when I see their work decorating the environment, I feel a sense of pride in realizing my dream of having children’s personal ideas encouraged and honored.”

Work-ready graduates

Quality early education and K-12 programs prepare students for success in college and, eventually, the workforce. “More employers expect new hires to ‘hit the ground running’ as resources for training programs have become tight,” says Renee Herzing, president of Herzing University. “We listen closely to their input so our graduates are work-ready, and we’ve put more emphasis on internships so students obtain experience in their fields. ‘Hands-on’ and ‘real-world’ experience are current buzzwords, but we’ve always focused on these in our programs.”

Herzing University updates its curriculum continuously and publishes its catalog three times annually. “For example, we added mobile application development to our software development program,” Herzing says. “We decided to add that emphasis due to the popularity of smartphones and the growing demand for mobile applications. Another addition is our online registered nurse to bachelor of nursing program. As health care facilities increasingly prefer to hire bachelor-degree nurses, it was important to offer a program where current nurses could upgrade their credentials while still working.”

The university involves businesses in curriculum development. “We have Curriculum Advisory Boards for every program area,” says Herzing. “These consist of business professionals in hiring positions, who give us regular feedback on what they’re looking for in their employees.”

Among the university’s most popular programs are game development and nursing. “The students who study gaming are literally around all times of day and night because they love what they do,” says Herzing. “Interest in nursing is high both because many people want to be in a caring profession where they can help others, and also because it’s reported that the field can expect positive employment and earning prospects.” 

Herzing University students say they appreciate ready access to—feedback, coaching, and mentoring from—their faculty members, as well as the school’s intimate atmosphere and small class sizes. “The average class is about twelve students, and even larger lecture classes are only about forty to fifty students,” Herzing says. 

“They also appreciate being able to focus early on classes for the career path they want to pursue, and the convenience of a set schedule so they can work outside of class,” she adds. “Students generally attend only mornings or afternoons four days a week, although nursing is an exception due to the clinical time required.”

-Judy Dahl

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