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Column - Superintendent Dr. Christine Johns

Superintendent Dr. Christine Johns

Literacy is the foundation for college and career success 

The skills that our business community needs from its new employees have changed dramatically since the Great Recession.  

Leading experts recognize that today’s graduates need post-secondary experiences to be successful in college and career. Employers hiring in today’s market seek out candidates who are innovative, flexible and have the ability to solve-problems. 

One skill, however, has remained critical to business and industry leaders for new employees: the ability to effectively read, write and speak is essential in every career. 

That is why literacy is at the center of teaching and learning in Utica Community Schools.  

To succeed in social studies, students need to read critically and write in a clear manner.  Our Career and Technical Education program requires students to work collaboratively and communicate with each other to meet the project goal.  Mathematics requires students to not only have strong computation skills, but also be able to communicate effectively and apply concepts to real-world problems. 

In Michigan, the importance of literacy has taken center stage with the passage of the Third Grade Reading Law, which requires districts to develop an individualized plan to ensure all students are proficient by the end of their third grade year. 

In UCS, we continue to emphasize the importance of literacy and numeracy as a focus for post-secondary education. 

A recent study by Georgetown University found that more than 95 percent of jobs created during the economic recovery have gone to workers with at least some college education - or 11.5 million of the 11.6 million jobs created since the Great Recession.  

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has expanded on this finding by projecting how manufacturing jobs are being restructured through automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI). It found that jobs being created in this field are now those that drive manufacturing – statisticians, mathematicians and software developers. Right in our back yard, automotive companies are leading the development of autonomous vehicles and the fundamental change that that will occur in mobility.  

To ensure our students have a competitive advantage for these jobs, we are creating the skills necessary for post-secondary success – starting with a strong foundation in literacy.  

UCS promotes not only the key literacy concepts - phonics, phonetic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension, writing and fluency – but also the type of literacy that will allow students to be successful in jobs that require highly skilled, high-tech employees.  

As the first Michigan district to partner with Code.org and the College Board, UCS is creating a K-12 pathway for students to pursue computer-related careers.  

Code.org and College Board partnerships, along with the virtual library card featured in this newsletter, illustrate how we continue to prepare students for the restructured job market in a technology driven world. 

These partnerships are examples of how UCS continues to build a strong foundation that will open doors for our graduates and help them build success in a world of rapid change. 

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