The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) is calling on schools, businesses, and communities to come together to give students better opportunities to learn about and participate in the working world while in school. In a recent blog post, Mary Beth West argues that the business community often is the missing link that can bridge the gap between academic achievement and meaningful preparation for the rigors of the workforce. West points to local chambers of commerce as organizations that can step in to connect schools and businesses to make a positive impact through business engagement in education: “Tennessee’s nearly 150 chambers of commerce, as well as workforce development programs, are uniquely well-positioned to address these issues in local communities and to make outreach to students more effective.”
The rest of Tennessee could very well look to the Academies of Nashville as a model for how to create effective business engagement in education. A student from McGavock High School‘s Academy of Aviation & Transportation spoke with members of the SCORE initiative about how the Academies of Nashville have used business engagement to create new, dynamic learning opportunities for all students. Alignment Nashville plays a vital role by bringing stakeholders in the community together to address educational needs. Pencil Foundation recruits business partners and maintains positive relationships between schools and academy partners. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce provides high-level support from groups like the CEO Champions and Partnership Councils. In other words, the Academies of Nashville are embedded in a network of dedicated organizations that support the academic achievement of our students through effective business engagement practices. We believe that this level of collaboration with local businesses helps to prepare students for success in college and careers.
This unique structure makes exciting opportunities available to students in the Academies of Nashville. Organizations like Junior Achievement organize opportunities for students to learn about business and finance and participate in job shadowing at local companies. Partnerships between local organizations and specific academies allow students to pursue in-depth projects that have an impact in the real world, such as the CMT Academy of Digital Design and Communication‘s video project at Stones River National Battlefield. Events like the Career Exploration Fair and constant interaction with business partners permit students to explore careers that interest them and start preparing now for their professional future.
We agree with SCORE that other school systems in Tennessee and around the country would do well to find new and creative ways to bring local business talent into schools. The Academies of Nashville are proud to lead the way in establishing a program that fosters effective business engagement in the education of our young people.