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The Chamber Blog

This space features conversations about issues affecting the Decatur-Morgan County area from leaders in our community.

That unwritten commandment

I’m writing this now thanks entirely to the work of a teacher. Not the message, necessarily, though that’s certainly the case as well, but the actual words, strung together in a sentence with nouns, verbs and adjectives to complete a thought from start to finish. And if you’re able to read this, you owe the same debt to an educator who opened your eyes for the first time.

I get excited thinking about the more than 19,000 public school students in Morgan County along with the hundreds of private and homeschool students who are imagining a big, bright world and what’s in store for them.SOH 2 Life-changing transformations are happening just down the street.

Yet, in the midst of this excitement, our school systems are facing real challenges in our community. Specifically, the perception our systems are not up to par in our region. Comparing apples to apples, our test scores are competitive, our facilities are world class with award-winning technology integration in every classroom, we have a forward-thinking early childhood/Pre-K expansion strategy, and more nationally named Blue Ribbons Schools than our local media can keep up with. And that list doesn’t even dive into our county’s deep commitment to skilled trade and career technical education.

I believe we are on a positive track, but as leaders in business and industry, there is more we can do to support and influence the positive changes our educational leaders are working towards. We have three first-class system superintendents and several outstanding private school headmasters; what are we doing to support them? Can we do more?

The Business and Industry Partnership with Education task team’s mission is direct and to the point: this team will provide the platform for our business and industry leaders to champion our schools to provide the highest quality education possible for all our area students.

What will this partnership look like? There are several ideas on the table, many of which expand the reach of already established Chamber programs like Partners in Education, Edge and Equip Student Leadership, as well as several long-time workforce training initiatives like Endless Opportunities, the Career and Workforce Expo, and SWeETy Camp for high school girls to learn the basics in welding and electrical trades. 

Beyond that, creating something new with this partnership between business, industry and education allows an opportunity to listen and adapt to the needs of both educators and those businesses looking to hire well-trained young people for their future workforce.

As a parent and a grandparent, I subscribe to that unwritten commandment we are to give better to our children than we had ourselves. It is in that giving we have hope in how the next generation will innovate our world in ways we can’t yet imagine. We owe it to them to do everything we can as leaders to prepare them for what’s next.

Nat Richardson is president of Decatur Morgan Hospital, and task team leader for The Partnership’s Business and Industry Partnership with Education initiative. This post is the second of a four-part series telling the story of The Partnership and how it will change the landscape of our business community. To learn more about The Partnership and how to get involved, please click here.

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