We have been asked about this a lot lately. We are asked this question by Chamber members, we are asked by parents who are familiar with only seeing us in the context of business, heck, we are sometimes asked this by the school teachers and building leaders we are working with, “Why are you so involved in education, why do you care so much about what is going on in the classroom?”
The simple answer is we care because our members and the community care. However, the more complex and logical explanation of our involvement stems from the idea that talent is the primary driver in economic development with the biggest portion of the workforce pipeline being Pre-K-12 public education. Nothing is more important to the present and future of the families of our communities and state than the delivery of excellent public education, including industry-relevant career pathways, for all students. We care about what is happening in the classroom because it is a predictor of whether students will be able to conquer the challenges of our workplaces.
Let us sum it up for you: it's getting harder to attain a high-paying job and even to succeed in a workplace without soft skills. There's a premium for workers that can coordinate, negotiate, persuade, and practice social perceptiveness. Therefore, our Chamber’s work in education aims to encourage school leadership to reimagine learning and shift from “sit and get” knowledge based models to educational environments that ignite student curiosity resulting in deeper level thinking, invite students to use all of their educational resources across disciplines to solve problems, collaborate in teams, and communicate how they discovered a solution or understand what tools they can utilize to seek more information in finding a solution. We are confident that focusing on social skill development in concert with cognitive development while exposing them to new careers and the pathways that lead them there is the best way we can insure our workforce pipeline has an outward flow of high quality talent ready for all jobs, even those that do not yet exist.
Our approach is grounded in:
1. Qualitative and quantitative assessments of our current reality
2. Dialogue with and support of school leadership teams
3. Professional development and coaching designed to equip school staff and teachers
4. Quality partnerships with organizations that share our values
5. Well intentioned risk taking in learning places and spaces
6. Measuring change and modifying strategies for maximum results and accountability
Our involvement and work looks different in each district and in every school within those districts, but our common goal alongside them, our IMPACT partners and ForwARd Arkansas
is readiness. Quite literally, to teach Independence County students like our future depends on them.
Have you noticed change in education in Independence County since IMPACT was launched? What major differences have you observed?
, or Tweet
us with your questions, input, or feedback.