Why all businesses need to step up and support our local schools

Several Maury County employers are poised to begin hiring thousands of employees over the next five years. In order to empower growth in Maury County to fill these roles, a strong, solid education system is imperative.

Early childhood education provides a foundation of development and preparation for a student’s future success — including workplace success. In particular, a foundation laid in the K-12 school system helps foster critical thinking skills among students, making them more reliable future employees. This foundation in turn helps improve the community as a whole, as better employees enhance the productivity and quality of organizations.

While employers depend upon K-12 and post-secondary educational systems to produce young men and women prepared for the demands of the work world, several Maury County companies and organizations have started to complement these efforts by launching programs for K-12 students. General Motors and W.R. Grace have both partnered with Maury County Public Schools (MCPS) and the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance (SCTWA) to offer manufacturing camps to high school students. Ibex Global, a call center in Spring Hill, has also worked with Spring Hill High School to offer customer service classes that provide students an opportunity to develop their communication skills.

According to the advising firm College Coach, only 36 percent of high school students choose a major in college that fits their interests. However, by participating in programs that offer students experience in their field of interest throughout grade school, students will be more likely to find a major, as well as a career, that complements both their interests and skill sets.

At Maury Regional Medical Center, we have already implemented a program to do just that, called the Medical Applications of Science for Health (MASH). MASH is coordinated by the Volunteer Services Department at the hospital and offers opportunities for students to work within the hospital for two weeks during the summer. Individuals observe different aspects of the healthcare field which allows them to identify their own interests and possibly discover a future career path.

According to a literature review conducted on behalf of the Department of Education, 75 percent of school leaders believe that when their schools work with and are supported by local businesses, students are able to reach greater levels of academic achievement. The same study also found that when schools and business work together the students gained enhanced critical and analytical skills, a deeper understanding of particular subjects and even an emergence of a new culture of academic excellence in the school.

With all of the benefits for both employers and the Maury County community, it is our job as leaders of local businesses and industries to help Maury County Public Schools grow to see its greatest potential. This will benefit all of our county’s residents and employers.

Support from businesses to prepare students for success can come in a variety of ways:

◆ Encouraging school / work partnerships so students may experience real-world expectations

◆ Expressing desired outcomes for work-ready graduates

◆ Sharing these outcomes with the community stakeholders — educators, school boards, test agencies, media and political figures

◆ Promoting positive talk about the school system both within and outside of the workplace and the Maury County community

◆ Helping school system leaders set goals for improvement and work with them to achieve those goals

By improving our local educational system and investing in its students, we’re not just improving our schools — we’re improving Maury County as a whole.

Alan Watson is the CEO of Maury County’s Maury Regional Medical Center, the largest employer in Maury County.


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