Alliance, schools kick off education campaign

From The Columbia Daily Herald – Tim Hodge

About 1,000 Maury County teachers, administrators, business leaders and residents packed the Spring Hill High School gym for a common cause — promoting and bettering local education.

The Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance partnered with the Maury County Public School system to launch an education advocacy campaign Wednesday.


As part of the effort, community members were surveyed and asked what they would like to see come from the campaign. Responders said there is a need for more leadership and parental and community involvement in the school system.

The campaign has a two-part slogan: “The grass is greener where you water it,” a quote attributed to Neil Barringham. The second part reads: “Watch us flourish on this side of the fence,” an allusion to a community perception that Williamson County has better schools than Maury.

“We know that the base of all economic development lies in education. Education leads to more rooftops, greater retail and a better-qualified workforce,” MCCEA Board Chairman Drew Parker said. “We have an absolutely fantastic environment with the teachers and what they provide our students, and we want to make sure the everybody knows about it.” web1_MCPS-MCCEA-Partnership-Campaign-for-Better-Education_0491_swt

Parker said he was inspired to see the entire community get under a single banner of enhancing education.

State Collaborative on Reforming Education Executive Vice President David Mansouri, whose organization works to promote college and workforce readiness, said education is not just about graduating, going to college and entering the workforce.

Those who attain higher education statistically have better jobs, live longer, experience lower poverty and unemployment rates while having higher voter turnout than those who do not, Mansouri said.

“What I am excited about for the commitment that was made today, is that the community in Maury County is saying, ‘We are going to put the success of our public schools first and make that our No. 1 priority, because we know it impacts so many other important things,’” he said. “In almost every school district and school that we see making tremendous progress for students, that commitment exists in the community.”

He said he has seen similar campaigns, but there are not many of them actively going on in the state. The partnership could allow companies to form business relationships with high school students and identify potential career paths or lead to more parental involvement, Mansouri said.

Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce Chief Policy Officer Marc Hill said Middle Tennessee is driving the state’s economic growth, and Maury County is an important part of that.

Employers across the state are having trouble finding qualified educated workers to fill positions, Hill said. However, recent pushes in STEM education initiatives are helping fill those gaps, he added.web1_MCPS-MCCEA-Partnership-Campaign-for-Better-Education_0511_swt

Every county in Middle Tennessee has to “up their game” in improving education, and business owners must realize they play an important role in promoting school involvement, Hill said.

“What’s happening in Maury County is exciting. Having the business community partner side-by-side with the school system to improve outcomes for students, that’s huge,” he said. “The key is getting shared ownership and shared buy-in and really doing the work together, and Maury County is off to a great start.”

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