PIC E-Newsletter Issue 1.3
So much has happened here at the Private Industry Council (PIC) since the last edition of the e-newsletter came out in May. Probably the biggest news is: this summer we were named the grantee of the Beaver County Head Start program--and we've been very busy making sure that the transition is smooth.
The majority of our programs run year-round, so all of our staff have been working hard throughout the summer to connect clients with jobs and training. We're so grateful to have such a great staff!
As folks throughout southwestern Pennsylvania gear up for a new school year, the August edition of our e-newsletter explores some of the things parents need to know and checks in with some of PIC's great programs.
Included in this issue are:
- Immunization Awareness Month
- Behind the Scenes: Meet Maria Campieri
- In the Spotlight: Fayette County Early Care & Education Committee
- Summer Adventures Provide a Fun Way to Learn
- Staying Connected
- Save the Date
- Beaver County Community Assessment Surveys
August is Immunization Awareness Month! Early childhood development programs, such as Head Start and Early Head Start, take immunization very seriously, helping to make sure that shots are up-to-date and families have the resources they need to ensure that children are healthy.
Immunizations are given to prevent diseases that can be serious, even deadly. Most parents and grandparents today have not seen firsthand the devastating consequences these vaccine-preventable diseases have on families and communities.
Children under the age of two are at risk for contagious diseases due to having an immature immune system. Side effects of the vaccines that prevent these diseases are usually mild; they include soreness and redness at the site of the injection and fever. Serious side effects are rare and doctors and clinic staff are trained to deal with them.
Good Health is as Easy as a Shot in the Arm
Children should receive vaccinations during well child checks. Vaccinations are also provided by the PA Department of Health. Check with the local office of their availability. (Click here to access a flyer about upcoming events.)
Adults need to check with their doctor, as they may be in need of vaccines for tetanus, flu, and pneumonia. Older adults may need the vaccine for shingles.
Keep a vaccination record for all family members and make sure they are aware of where to locate the record--FOREVER!
Visit the Center for Disease Control's website at CDC.gov for additional information and answers to questions.
Maria Campieri joined the PIC staff in December 2012. She brings energy and enthusiasm to her job helping individuals with different abilities transition into the workforce. In addition to working hard to help her clients, she recently formed a team of fellow PIC employees to participate in Foam Fest and collects outdated newspapers from the PIC office staff to donate to a local animal shelter for cage lining. We sat down with Campieri to discuss her experiences here at PIC.
Maria Campieri's job is far from routine. On any given day, she may find herself in New Kensington coaching a client through his first day on the job. Or she could spend a few hours on a bus teaching another client how to navigate the public transportation system. Another day may be spent pounding the pavement trying to track down job opportunities that match her clients' interests and abilities.
"I love the different roles," said Campieri. "I don't like repetition."
As a Job Coaching Coordinator at the Private Industry Council (PIC), Campieri helps individuals with disabilities find jobs, learn how to do the required tasks, and thrive in a work environment. She provides job coaching and community-based work assessment through a contract PIC has with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.
She says that her own past work experience has helped prepare her for her current job. Before going on to college, she was as a clerk at the Washington County Courthouse. She's also worked as a law clerk at a firm in Louisiana, and she's spent some time in retail management. Plus, before joining our team, Campieri, who has a degree in secondary social studies education from Southeastern Louisiana University, taught U.S. history and government for three years.
"All these experiences have taught me to be very willing to adapt to new situations to complete whatever goal is at hand," Campieri said.
Her experience as an educator has been particularly valuable here at PIC. As a social studies teacher, she had several students who were below reading level. Campieri befriended the school's special education teacher, who shared strategies for working with struggling students. Techniques Campieri learned back then, such as using checklists and graphic organizers to make life easier for those with special needs, have transferred well into the world of workforce development.
She said that checklists are just one of many simple strategies that can be used to make the work environment better for individuals with different abilities. Other strategies include: reducing light or noise, permitting a flexible schedule, or providing topics to be discussed in advance of a meeting.
When one of her clients got a job as a dishwasher at a hospital, Campieri learned how to do the position. She broke the job down by tasks and established how long each should take—recording it in a checklist format. She then coached him through the tasks on the checklist and even developed a map of the hospital—it was a big facility—to help him navigate. As the client gained experience, Campieri reduced the number of tasks on the list that she assisted him with, creating ever increasing independence. But Campieri also recognized that a coworker of his connected well with him, and she encouraged a mentoring relationship that could be there even after she was gone.
She emphasized that the clients she works with have different abilities rather than disabilities. It's part of her job to help bring those abilities out—and to make sure that clients are matched with jobs that truly suit them.
To get to know her clients and understand what types of jobs would be a good fit, she sits down with them and has a casual conversation about what they like and don't like. She's careful to make sure that it's not just a question-and-answer session. She even once met up with a client at a bookstore to discuss books because that was an interest of his.
"I have to think out of the box sometimes," said Campieri, who works with individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and skills.
To learn more about PIC's training and employment support programming—which includes job coaching and community-based work assessment—please visit our website by clicking here.
The Program Snapshot feature is designed to provide a quick glimpse into PIC's over two dozen programs. This month we focus on the Early Care & Education Committee in Fayette County, which is headed by PIC's own René Despot.
What is it?
The Early Care & Education Committee brings together people who care deeply about the well-being of young children in Fayette County. Members of the committee focus on engaging families in their child's education; promoting smooth transitions into early learning centers and kindergarten; and educating the community on the importance of high quality early learning programs.
Who is on the committee?
The Early Care & Education Committee includes professionals who work for social service agencies, school districts, businesses, nonprofit organizations, etc., but it also includes parents, grandparents, and other family members of children ages 0-8.
What purpose does the committee serve?
It's an opportunity for people who have a huge impact on children's lives to make an even bigger difference. The committee helps everyone stay up-to-date on what's going on throughout the community and promotes collaboration. It provides a way for agencies, school districts, early learning providers, and families to communicate more and to team up to work on initiatives that promote the well-being and healthy development of Fayette County children.
What's new with the committee?
Earlier this year, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and Pennsylvania Key invited community partners to be part of their Family Engagement Pilot Project, which focuses on "family engagement in the early childhood years to promote school readiness." PIC was selected to be one of four organizations across the state to participate in the pilot project, and its Early Care & Education Committee will be the driving force behind project implementation in Fayette County! We are tasked with developing and implementing a plan that answers this very important question: How do we as a community strengthen family engagement in early childhood education and development with an ultimate goal of promoting greater school readiness?
How often does the committee meet?
We meet quarterly—the third Thursday of the month at 8:15 a.m. in the FCP Room at PIC's Uniontown office (492 Coolspring Street, Uniontown, PA). The next meeting is in September.
How can I join the team?
We are always looking for new team members who want to help children succeed! If you work with or have children between the ages of 0-8 in Fayette County, your contribution to the team will be invaluable. We are particularly interested in having local churches with preschool services become involved.
How do I find out more?
MONESSEN, Pa. – It was July 3—right in the middle of summer vacation and the day before a national holiday—but the halls of Monessen Middle School echoed with student laughter.
JoBeth Post, the lead teacher at the Private Industry Council's Monessen Summer Enrichment Program site, stood in a large room. She was surrounded by students with their hair dyed blue, sticking up straight, or twisted into funky shapes. Post's own hair was covered with a disheveled wig; it was crazy hair day at the summer camp.
The spirit weeks—which included, to name a few, funny hat day, nerd day, and neon day—were Post's idea. But that wasn't all she had up her sleeve. To get even more students to come to the program, she issued a challenge: if her students collectively brought 10 more friends before the end of the program, she'd dye her hair purple. As of July 3, students were just two friends shy of the goal.
(A week later, to mark the end of the summer program, Post brought out the dye packets, even though the kids hadn't quite reached 10. According to Andreia Sands, the PIC Youth Specialist who coordinates the program in Monessen, Post's fingers and scalp absorbed the purple coloring a little more than her light red hair did. But it was a great reward for the wonderful job the students did.)
July 3 marked the end of the third week of the camp, which ran for four weeks this summer. And Post and the kids were having a blast. The Summer Enrichment Program, funded through Pennsylvania Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning grants, was taking them on adventures covering survival skills, math, and science. Post said that she'd learned some things about survival from the guest presenters that she hadn't known about even after several years with the Girl Scouts.
Post is energetic, cheerful, and creative. She's so good with kids that it's difficult to see her doing anything besides teaching, but she actually started out her career as a graphic designer. "I missed working with kids," she said in explanation of the career shift, noting that being a Girl Scout troop leader helped a little but just wasn't enough.
Post was happy to land a teaching position in a middle school. "I just like that age group," Post said, explaining that middle school students don't think they know everything already but "you can joke with them."
She's also fond of Monessen and notes that the sometimes negative reputation is not deserved. "We have great kids," she said.
Post has been a teacher at Monessen Middle School for eight years. She's taught reading in the past and will be moving into language arts in the fall. For the summer program, which focuses on science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM), she was excited to have a chance to take a break from explicating poems with her students. "It's a nice change," she said. "It's nice to get into a different subject area."
The Summer Enrichment Program, which takes place at several different sites throughout Allegheny, Fayette, and Westmoreland counties each year, emphasizes hands-on experience. Kids get to see academic concepts in motion rather than just learning out of a book. This summer they worked together in small groups to solve problems and build things like water filtration systems. Post said that as a result she's seen kids with traditionally poor grades have "aha" moments where things just clicked. She's also seen them doing fractions in their heads, something that they'd usually grab a calculator for.
She noted that so often there's a disconnect between what students do in the classroom and the real world. Through the program, she said, kids learn about the same concepts they learn about in a classroom, but they also get to see how those concepts can be applied beyond school. Plus, the program provides a bridge that helps students retain knowledge over the summer.
"I really want them to see learning as ongoing," Post said. "It doesn't stop."
The kids learned more than STEM concepts, however; they also learned how to work in teams and solve problems. In fact, when the program started, Post placed her students in groups at random. Some of the kids protested that they didn't really get along with their teammates. She didn't yield, instead seeing a teachable moment. The kids learned how to work as a team, despite their differences.
"They've opened up a lot more behaviorally," Post said of the changes that she saw in the kids over the course of the program.
As she goes back into a more traditional classroom in the fall, she plans to implement more of the sorts of hands-on activities that she's seen work in the summer program.
Monessen Middle School is just one of many sites for PIC's youth programming. To learn more about the Afterschool and Summer Enrichment Programs, please visit our website by clicking here.
With over two dozen programs, there's a lot going on at PIC. The e-newsletter is an important tool in keeping you informed about what's happening in the world of workforce development and education. We wanted to share a few other ways that you can stay connected!
The Private Industry Council maintains two websites—one main organization site and a second for its Education and Technology Institute (ETI). We even recently revamped the look of our main site to make it easier to use! Our sites provide current news and information about our programs as well as handy contact information for reaching people throughout the organization. For easy reference, bookmark these URLs:
Private Industry Council: www.privateindustrycouncil.com
Education and Technology Institute: www.eti.edu
We are very grateful to John Evans and Harry Metz for their hard work putting together the PIC Connection cable television show. John and Harry recently changed the format of the show, and it looks great! They provide a glimpse into PIC programs and give you a chance to meet some of the people who work with us.
John is also the host of the PIC Radio Connection, which airs on Fridays. He shares all sorts of information about PIC, its programs, and all things workforce development related!
Check out PIC Connection radio and television information by clicking here.
In addition, many of the past episodes of our television show are also available on our YouTube channel, which provides a nice segue into the next way to stay connected to PIC--YouTube!
We have our own channel on YouTube: thepicconnection. It has all sorts of cool videos that show where we are—and where we've been. We're also working on putting together a series of short how-to videos about topics that are relevant to what we do. Thanks so much to Harry Metz and our Head Start of Fayette County teachers and kids for agreeing to be part of the pilot production of these mini lessons!
Be the first to see new posts at our YouTube channel by clicking here and subscribing today!
We maintain several Facebook pages for a variety of programs, including the Education and Technology Institute, our Youth Programs, Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County, Head Start of Beaver County, SEEDS, the Early Care & Education Committee, and Family Literacy.
Our main organization Facebook page provides news, articles, updates, information on upcoming events, and links to workforce development resources. Our other pages for specific PIC programs connect folks to relevant articles, photos, and dates. We have all sorts of things for you to "Like" on Facebook! Here's the whole list of our Facebook pages:
- Private Industry Council
- SEEDS Center of Excellence
- Education and Technology Institute
- Head Start / Early Head Start of Fayette County
- Beaver County Head Start
- PIC Youth Programs
- Family Literacy
- Fayette County Local Education and Resource Network for Early Care and Education
We hope that you'll take the opportunity to stay connected through a variety of ways. We love to share all sorts of great information about how we can help people in southwestern Pennsylvania; amazing resources; and the trends related to jobs, education, and more.
PIC Turns 30 This Year!
Here's a bit of trivia: what year was the Private Industry Council founded? The answer: 1983. Which means we turn 30 this year! We will be marking the occasion with an anniversary dinner at the Willow Room in Belle Vernon, Pa., at 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 24. We would be honored to have you in attendance! For additional information, please call us at 724-836-2600.
As the grantee of the Beaver County Head Start program, we are required to do a full community assessment every three years, with updates in between. Part of our community assessment process includes surveying community partners, Head Start families, and even families who aren't part of Head Start but who have children between the ages of 3 and 5.
If you live or work in Beaver County, we need your help! Please fill out the appropriate survey and/or pass the word on to your friends and neighbors!
Beaver County Community Partner Survey:
Does your organization serve families in Beaver County? Please take a moment to fill out this survey.
Beaver County Head Start Parent/Care Giver Survey:
Have you filled out an application to have your child participate in Beaver County Head Start? Please take a moment to fill out this survey.
Beaver County Non-Head Start Parent/Care Giver Survey:
Do you live in Beaver County and have a child between the ages of 3 and 5 who is not a part of the Beaver County Head Start program (with no application in)? Please take a moment to fill out this survey.
Please return all surveys by September 13, 2013.