Ed note: This article originally appeared as a “Business Sense” column in the Times-Standard on June 28, 2020.
By Jim Ritter
Humboldt County Office of Education
When Humboldt County schools switched to distance learning in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, local high school teachers and College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State University instructors turned their efforts to providing an effective, engaging virtual learning curriculum for their students.
One of the ways that we have done this is by bringing guests into classes through Zoom, Google Meet, and other virtual learning platforms to share information with students. As an example, St. Joseph Health physicians Dr. Skye Heston and Dr. Stephanie Dittmer were recent guests at local high school Biology & Community Health classes to speak with students about the science and medical challenges of COVID-19.
Although face-to-face classes are clearly more effective for everyone, virtual learning does give us the opportunity to broaden whom our students are connecting with and learning from. With virtual/distance learning platforms, we can bring talented, creative community members into classrooms to share expertise, career insight, and inspiration with local students.
CR and HSU will mostly offer their classes online for the Fall 2020 semester. Humboldt County K-12 districts are still figuring out their plan for the fall, but it is likely that virtual, online instruction will still be a significant part of how teachers will work with students. In support of offering robust and effective distance learning options, the Humboldt County Office of Education, in partnership with the Arcata and Eureka Chambers of Commerce and local service clubs, is organizing an effort to help Humboldt County high school teachers and college instructors connect with community experts.
If you have a talent, skill, educational training, hobby, or career expertise that could be helpful to share with local students, we’d like to hear from you. We’ll share your information with local high school teachers and CR and HSU instructors to help them enrich their curriculum by bringing your real-world insight into their classrooms.
Our resource speakers can be as creative as the many talented people who live in our community. Maybe you own or manage a business and are willing to share job interview tips in a high school or college business class, or teach higher education science or engineering and can be a guest speaker in a high school biology, chemistry, or environmental science class, or are a restaurant owner or chef who can share information about the food supply chain and buying local farm to table with culinary students, or are a history buff who can discuss local history.
Other examples for volunteers include sharing insight about effective leadership skills, job readiness, cultural diversity, personal finance, conflict resolution, or many other topics. Whatever your expertise, connecting students with community members who can share real-world insight and experience, helps to broaden their understanding of our world, and helps them to better prepare for future job and career success.
Please join us in this partnership to help make virtual learning creative and engaging, and to support our local job training pipeline. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 707-498-2917 to volunteer, or for more information. Thank you.
Jim Ritter coordinates the College Connect program and community outreach for the Humboldt County Office of Education, Education At Work department, and serves on the Eureka Chamber of Commerce Business & Education Committee and the Arcata Chamber Board of Directors. Before working in education, he was a rafting and fishing outfitter in Idaho, Oregon, and the California Sierras for 27 years.