To collaborate with education, business and community to build partnerships that create relevant career pathways for students and link them with resources and opportunities to succeed.
As part of the fastest growing metropolitan region in the Midwest, Pickaway County is in the midst of significant change. The Columbus Region is experiencing historic economic growth with nearly 150,000 new jobs created in the last five years. Locally, the expansion of existing employers and the attraction of new companies are providing local residents with a myriad of employment opportunities. This all bodes well for the economic vitality of our community, but low unemployment rates and a tightening labor market can prove to be challenging for local employers. We often hear that employers have difficulty finding people to fill openings, and new hires often come lacking basic soft skills.
In response to this, the local school districts in Pickaway County have invested significant resources over the last several years in developing new career readiness initiatives intended to prepare and align students with local employment opportunities. Entrepreneurial training, internships, 21st century skills curriculum and a variety of other tools are now being utilized to equip graduates for the workplace.
In a collaborative effort to align Pickaway County employers with our local education and workforce training resources, we began a series of Workforce Connection meetings.
We brought together local educators and employers, to learn about each other and begin relationship building, and as a result discovered many resources and identified common challenges, and began work on solutions. Originally intended to allow educators and employers the opportunity to connect with each other, the Workforce Connections meetings highlighted real challenges our schools and local employers face in a time of great change and growth for our community. More importantly, we also learned that there is great energy and openness to working together in new ways.
Much work has been done to harness this energy since we first met. Multiple focus groups were held and a large group of collaborators met in a strategic STEM Community Roadmapping series to vision how a community can holistically engage schools and employers in relevant problem-solving opportunities that provide purpose and life-long learning in our community. All of this work was done with the intent of identifying new ways to bridge the readiness and awareness gap between students and the workplace.
Pickaway WORKS – World of Real Knowledge and Skills – was developed through this process and was rolled out to the community at our November 2017 Workforce Connections meeting. The vision of Pickaway WORKS is…to engage and develop all stakeholders in uniting education and workforce to positively transform and grow our vibrant community. Our program initiatives were identified through the strategic planning process and we began implementation in early 2018. We recently held the latest in our series of our Workforce Connections meetings, with over 90 business leaders and educators in attendance, and were able to share and celebrate our successes to date and highlight examples of real partnerships in action between local business and schools.
In addition to their partnership with WORKS, all four Pickaway County school districts have demonstrated a long-time commitment to college and career readiness for all students through their support and collaboration with Pickaway HELPS, a traditional college access program founded in 2007.
With a renewed focus on engaging business partners, the WORKS and HELPS programs have formally merged under the Pickaway WORKS brand and have become one united effort to better prepare our students for the demands of the modern workplace and ultimately, for future success. WORKS is funded by financial support from all four school districts, as well as the Pickaway County Board of Commissioners, along with grant funding from the Pickaway County Community Foundation and other community grants.
Through our program initiatives, we are building partnerships that create relevant career pathways and provide local career opportunities for students, meet workforce demands of local employers and strengthen the economic stability of our community. We are focused on reconnecting education with business and community, to better engage with each other and support a more authentic learning experience for students.
Read our Pickaway WORKS Business Advisory Council Plan for more information.
Our Advisory Board Members
Pickaway WORKS is overseen by a 20-member advisory board and is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, overseen by co-directors Christy Mills and Chuck Reisinger. Following are the Pickaway WORKS advisory board members:
- Christy Mills, Pickaway WORKS, Co-Director
- Chuck Reisinger, Pickaway WORKS, Co-Director
- Jeremy Banta – Ohio Supply Chain Academic Network
- Christine Boucher – Eastland-Fairfield CTS
- Krista Bower – Pickaway Co Chamber of Commerce
- Amy Colburn – Logan Elm School District
- Jeremy Davitz – Production Plus
- Carrie Fife – Pickaway-Ross CTC
- Sally Galecki – Ohio Health Berger
- Lisa Heins – Pickaway County ESC
- Beth Keplar, Board Chair – Teays Valley School District
- Tom Kitchen – Pickaway County ESC
- Michael Linton – Accurate Heating & Cooling
- Monty Lobb – OCU Business Innovation Center
- Micah McCathren – PPG
- Stacey Sark – Mid Ohio Water Management
- Cristy Stewart – Ohio Means Jobs Pickaway
- Connie Strebe – Circleville City School District
- Meghan Thoreau – OSU Extension Pickaway
- Jason Vesey – Pickaway-Ross CTC
- Jay Wippel – Pickaway County Commissioner
Christy has been working in Pickaway County schools for over 20 years, helping students maximize their potential and encouraging them to reach their goals. She has served as Executive Director of Pickaway WORKS since 2007. Christy and her husband are lifelong residents of this community and raised their now grown children here. She maintains her passion for the educational success of our young people and is dedicated to collaborating with local education and business partners to provide career building experiences and opportunities for our students. Christy earned her Bachelor of Science in Business from Ohio State University, is proud to call Pickaway County home, and is also proud to be “Grammy” to two granddaughters.
Chuck came to the Ross-Pickaway County area in 1988 for a “short term” business assignment. He fell in love with the community and decided to make Pickaway County his home. Chuck has worked for various companies from small family owned businesses to a subsidiary of a Fortune 100 company. As a Certified Public Accountant, his career has primarily been in management and finance. He realized the urgent need for area workforce development in his most current role as a Regional Plant Controller of a local manufacturer. Chuck joined the board of Pickaway Works to assist in developing Pickaway County’s workforce. As a board member, he became an avid believer in the Pickaway Works’ Goal that states, “all Pickaway County students graduate with a plan for their next steps after high school, supported by career-connected experiences while in school.” The position of Director is a perfect fit for Chuck to combine his passion for workforce development and his love for working with teenagers – he has actively worked with teenagers since graduating from college. Chuck lives south of Circleville with his wife Beth. Beth and he have 5 children who have attended or are currently attending Logan Elm.
Brooke is a lifelong resident of Pickaway County. She graduated from Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She continued her schooling at Capital University where
she received her Master’s degree in Literacy. After teaching first grade at Washington Elementary for nine years, she stayed home to raise her three children. Brooke is eager to return to the classroom and her Alma mater, Logan Elm, to help students plan their future.
She lives in Stoutsville with her husband Keith, their three boys, one dog and several 4H pigs.
Valerie moved to Columbus from her hometown of Middletown, Ohio to attend The Ohio State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She then attended Otterbein University, where she earned a Master of Arts degree in Teaching. Valerie was a middle school teacher at Teays Valley for several years. She is excited to contribute to the mission of Pickaway WORKS in preparing students for their futures. Valerie now lives in Circleville with her husband, two young children, and beloved yellow lab.
Our Business and Community Partners
Clifton Family Farms