The Hershey Company Keeps Student Connections Strong
The shift to online learning at Milton Hershey School may have meant the end of in-person classroom visits from employees at The Hershey Company, but it hasn’t meant the end of their support and mentorship. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Hershey Company and MHS staff have collaborated on ways employees can continue sharing their expertise and knowledge with students.
One example includes members of The Hershey Company’s Latino Business Resource Group, who normally visit MHS Spanish classes once a month as part of the school’s Hispanos Exitosos program. The program gives students an authentic learning experience where they take the skills they have learned in the classroom and use them to communicate with professionals in the target language.
Unable to meet in person, employees and students now hold monthly virtual Zoom meetings that take place entirely in Spanish and feature a special presentation.
During a recent “virtual visit,” Tony Southard, vice president and GM of Hershey Mexico, presenting on the topic of his own language learning journey, his passion for Mexican culture, and how his ability to speak multiple languages helped further his career.
“Education is being turned upside down and, in spite of that, we have been able to turn this into a positive. By embracing technology and adapting to the new learning environment, our students continue to benefit from these employees’ expertise and professional insight,” said MHS high school Spanish teacher Christine Fisher. “Not only do students get an authentic experience, but they also get to connect with someone in Jalisco, Mexico.”
The fourth-year language students demonstrate their proficiency in Spanish by introducing themselves and sharing a brief background on themselves with their Hershey Company mentors. They also ask questions and hold conversations.
During his presentation, Southard shared three pieces of advice with the students—“establish your dream, reinforce your goal, and find your passion.” To end the virtual meeting, the Hershey Company employees also shared some words of encouragement related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We believe in you and we are here for you” shared The Hershey Company’s Erika Nava.
Other Hershey Company employees have continued their involvement as subject matter experts in the school’s award-winning Hershey Honors Business program so students can explore the inner workings of the company. Employees share weekly presentations on topics such as order management, distribution and warehousing, production planning and manufacturing, packaging, and food safety.
The employees’ perspectives and knowledge-sharing have reinforced what the business honors students are learning in the classroom and given them added exposure to potential careers.
“It’s not something these employees have to do. This is something they choose to do because they feel it is important to invest in our youth,” said Fisher. “By working at The Hershey Company, they share a common purpose and interest with us to give back to our students at MHS. That is what Mr. Hershey would have wanted.”