S.T.E.P. Host the Twin-Counties Education & Business Leaders' Summit

Friday, August 11, 2017

Twin Counties educators and business leaders came together Thursday to celebrate collaboration and learn more about efforts to create the workforce of today and tomorrow.

The Twin Counties Education and Business Leaders Summit was hosted by the Strategic Twin-Counties Educational Partnership and other local partners at Nash Community College’s Brown Auditorium. The mission of STEP is to work to improve the education in the Twin Counties by facilitating collaboration by all groups interested in public education.

Assistant Secretary of Workforce Solutions Will Collins of the N.C. Department of Commerce was guest speaker at the event, Collins emphasized the importance of regional cooperation.

“Leadership doesn’t stop at the county line,” Collins said. “Helping and supporting one another helps everyone grow.”

Leaders from Edgecombe Community College, Edgecombe County Public Schools, Nash Community College and Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools also presented updates about what their organizations are doing to prepare students for jobs in the Twin Counties.

Dr. Bill Carver, president of Nash Community College, said he is proud of the programs and partnerships in the community that prepare students for area jobs.

“We have a lot of great partners, but the most important partner Nash Community College has is the Nash-Rocky Mount school system. We are proud that we have 24 pathways established. We need to brag about what we have in this region. We need to brag on our partners. It is not all bad,” Carver said.

Dr. Shelton Jefferies, superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, said he is impressed by the current and future business partners who attended Thursday’s event.

“When I look out at this audience, I am struck by the tapestry of our region. You all are what drew me here. We have talked about some of the challenges our regions confronts. Despite all those challenges, what drew me here is the power of potential. The potential of this region is enormous,” Jefferies said.

Dr. Valerie Bridges, new superintendent of Edgecombe County Public Schools, stressed the role literacy plays in the future of the students.

“A child sitting in a class without being able to read does not understand how this will affect his future. We need partners to help us change the future of that child,” Bridges said.

Dr. Debra Lamm, president of Edgecombe Community College, emphasized the importance of the role of community colleges in developing new talent in the region.

“Education, training and experience are what community colleges are all about,” Lamm said.

“But success in the region will be because of the collaboration between schools and industries.”

John Judd, plant manager for Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant and board chairman of STEP, also spoke about the role businesses play in training future workers.

“It’s time for business to step up. It’s time for business to engage with education so we can stop going across the country to get talent into this area. Its time for our region to step up. We

have some of the smartest and brightest kids right here,” Judd said.

Pam Gould, executive director of STEP, said her organization is all about facilitating collaboration between education and businesses in the Twin Counties.

“This has been a collaborative effort,” Gould said. “This is about the Power of One: two counties with one goal. We are working together to create a talent pipeline to the future. Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce.”