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The Suburbanite
  • Preparing students for global careers

  • Technology has changed the world in a number of ways including creating a global business place that creates a globalized workplace. Students enrolled in the Jackson Academy for Global Studies (JAGS) are learning firsthand how they will be competing in the globalized workplace of the future.

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  • Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series about the Jackson Academy for Global Studies and the role it plays in preparing students for a global economy
    Technology has changed the world in a number of ways including creating a global business place that creates a globalized workplace. Students enrolled in the Jackson Academy for Global Studies (JAGS) are learning firsthand how they will be competing in the globalized workplace of the future.
    JAGS' mission is to create global citizens and prepare them for global learning in higher education and the globalization of the workplace. Teachers and administrators with the program collaborate with businesses through the World Language Community Advisory Board.
    “We currently have representatives from local universities, juniors and seniors from world language and staff members from the middle and high schools along with persons from six different companies on the committee,” said Jeff Kracker, JAGS principal and Jackson High School assistant principal. “The companies help us by providing input on the current issues and trends in the business community. We share that input with program teachers so that they can create real-world, problem-based projects and lessons for students.”
    Additional opportunities resulting from working with businesses include creating student learning experiences outside of the classroom and making connections with the work world.  
    W.T. (Rusty) Adams, principal development engineer in the tire-vehicle engineering technology division of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, said he believes technology has allowed it to become easier to work with others around the world. His company works with facilities, companies and countries around the world, including Japan, China, Europe and more.
    “We've become more global in our thinking now than we were 10 or 15 years ago, and graduates will have more career opportunities if they are willing to learn other languages and understand other cultures,” Adams said. “I grew up in a military family and lived all over the country, and requirement for language classes were different from area to area. My schools in California and Texas had Spanish as part of the school curriculum. In Colorado, you took either French or Spanish. Other schools, learning language was optional.”
    Adams said that countries around the world are also becoming more global in their thinking. He said that people from other countries that he works with know several languages, including English, and they appreciate it when Americans know their language.
    “Knowing their language and having an interest in their country is a way of showing respect to them and their country,” Adams said. “The JAGS program is trying to get the kids interested in the language and the culture. The kids that do that will have significant opportunities in their career. Working as an engineer in a global company, I see the value in knowing multiple languages. It makes us seem friendlier and it makes it easier to do business.”
    Page 2 of 2 - He said the JAGS program is proactive because it is not mandated by the state and administrators are going beyond what they are required to do. Adding community interactions is a plus for the students.
    Patricia Robinson, a JAGS advisory board member and vice-president, human resources, The Americas at Diebold, Inc., said travelling is 25 percent to 35 percent of her job. She travels both abroad and domestically.
    “Senior leaders in the Latin America division are at least bilingual and some speak more than two languages,” Robinson said. “I don't believe I received enough preparation in my high school or in college in terms of learning languages so that I could work in a company that competes globally. I started learning about different cultures through books after I started working.”
    She said there is an advantage to learning language at a young age.
    “The younger you are when you start learning, the more you appreciate it and the faster it becomes a part of you,” Robinson said. “It is a shock to people who travel abroad the first time. It really does give you a leg up the more informed you are.”
    She said that the United States will continue to compete on a global platform. Not only is the United States building business in other countries, businesses from other countries are coming here to do business. She said students in the JAGS program will come out of the program with a better awareness and understanding of the world.
    “To get to the heart of others from around the world, you have to reach out and show signs of respect by speaking and understanding their language,” Robinson said. “The JAGS program is going in the right direction and could become a model for other high schools.”
    Kracker said the input from companies such as Diebold and Goodyear has been invaluable. It has allowed the program to have a consistent dialogue about the changing work environment. Committee members volunteer their time to attend meetings and offer their suggestions.
    “Members come to the school for early morning meetings and once the coffee kicks in, the ideas start flowing,” Kracker said.
    Future plans for JAGS include recruiting 100 more students into the program, expanding networking with local businesses and universities, building on student travel opportunities both locally and internationally and building community service opportunities for students. Kracker said all students will be bilingual when they graduate.