The Business and Education Partnership Menu is a partnership between the Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation, the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce, the City of La Porte and La Porte Community School Corporation which seeks to open lines of communication and connect La Porte businesses with the school corporation.
The Menu consists of a series of choices and ways in which local companies can dialogue with the school, who is preparing the future workforce which will someday be employed by those local businesses.
One of the menu items is the Workforce Teacher of the Year and in 2015 the inaugural recipient of that award was La Porte High School teacher, Matt Presley.
“The award is what it sounds like it is,” said GLEDC Executive Director, Bert Cook. “We’re honoring the teacher who is best preparing their students for the workforce, whether that means right now in the immediate future or if those students are going on to further their education, whatever it may be.”
As part of the award, GLEDC presents the winner with two checks -- $500 for their program and $500 for them personally. After receiving the award, Presley, an English and Senior Technical Writing teacher at LPHS, took the entire $1000 and created a program and website called, Hire A Slicer at hireaslicer.com.
“I won the award and that was fantastic,” Presley said. “The challenge was, ‘how do I take that money and do something that has a lasting impact?’ I sat down with Principal Ben Tonagel and we talked over some ideas and I think he actually said that he had seen something like this at a college at some point.”
After some more investigating, Presley decided that the program was something that could have a lasting benefit to the school, the students and the community. Presley then pitched the idea to Cook who immediately saw the positive impact that the program could have in La Porte.
“There are quite a few things that can come out of the website but the goal is to provide, from my angle, students at La Porte High School with opportunities for employment,” said Presley. “This is a tool that they can use to do that. It also helps me, as a teacher, engage my students because in the past my classes are largely career technical-based. Students in my class have to get mentorships in the community, do soft-skills training, we write resumes, we do job interviews and we’re constantly doing those types of things.”
“The resume is like the most important document,” said Presley. “A good one is really important and a bad one sinks you before you get a chance to tell someone who you are so I always preach that. This website will engage them even more because the audience for their resume won’t be just me. It will be the community.”
The challenge that every community faces is having a solid workforce that is able to occupy the jobs that need to be filled to be successful.
“The things we’re excited about in La Porte are these real-world applications,” added Cook. “We’re not just talking about doing something, we’re actually doing things. Students who are participating through this website will find that there is an active and exciting job market out there, and I think that businesses will pick up on that and will be looking to use this resource to find people.”
“Matt went out of his way to, not only come up with a great idea, but to expand the original concept we had,” Cook said. “We were excited to be able to provide some funding for the program but we didn’t know that something this extensive would come out of it.”
Employers will be able to access the website with a password which will protect the students from just anyone getting online and browsing through the information.
“I think that (password protection) will have a dual purpose,” said Presley. “It will protect the students and it’s a really good way to facilitate that contact and those connections.”
The site is taking its first steps as the school year opens up and Presley is hopeful of having a few hundred resumes on the site as students work to build their resume and become connected to the website. Students won’t be required to post their resume to hireaslicer.com, but through Presley’s classes and the schools Digital Learning Day, the number of students and staff active and using the tools that the site provides will grow quickly.
Hire A Slicer is also geared towards students who might not be joining the workforce immediately.
“There’s an option there for internships as well for students who maybe just want to do a summer internship,” said Presley in regards to students who might be going off to college in the fall. “Those are options that a student can select and an employer can search as way to try and serve everyone.”
La Porte Mayor, Blair Milo, also weighed in on the importance of building and promoting programs like this that seek to bring together business and education in La Porte to build a quality, productive workforce.
“I am thrilled to see the “Hire A Slicer website” up and running. Matt Presley has created a very practical learning experience for La Porte High School students, while simultaneously increasing communication between our schools and business community. During my administration workforce development has always been a priority and Matt’s work is another positive step in preparing our students to enter the workforce,” said Mayor Blair Milo.
Getting the website off the ground has been successful due to the efforts of Presley, Cook, and local companies American Licorice, who were receptive to the idea from the start and have been a really supportive sponsor, and re3 Consulting who developed the website at no cost to the program.