An unusual school of mines

mccaw1Every other month, I travel to Henderson, Nev., to facilitate a community advisory panel. The managers from four plants meet with community representatives from different walks of life. Each plant reports on its progress in five areas – safety, environmental performance, manufacturing issues, distribution issues, and community involvement. Each meeting, we also have a program with topics ranging from economic development and workforce training to risk communication and city planning.

mccaw3This month, for our program, we toured the McCaw School of Mines. You’re probably not familiar with it, and if you attend, you won’t walk out with a bachelor of science in metallurgy.

Instead, the school aims to teach fourth graders in Clark County about the importance of mining to the Nevada economy. Most of the mines in Nevada lie north of Henderson (which is adjacent to Las Vegas), so grade-school students rarely are exposed to mining. By taking a field trip to the McCaw School of Mines, they gain information about mining techniques, mining careers and the vital role that mining plays in the state and national economy. They even get a chance to pan for gold.

The school is the brainchild of Janet Dobry, who recently retired as principal of Henderson’s Robert Taylor Elementary School, and Janet Bremer, who taught at McCaw Elementary School. Both women are or have been part of the community advisory panel. They started small but found ways to approach Nevada mining companies for support and for discarded equipment.

Students come from all parts of Clark County to visit the mine, and they often proclaim their experience to be the best field trip they’ve ever had.

This is a great example of a private-public partnership making good things happen for a community and its children. If you’re ever in the area, ask for a tour. I’m sure the mine will be happy to oblige.

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