Fall Education Forum focuses on partnerships to enhance learning

Partnerships that enhance learning from preschool through college were highlighted at the recent Fall Education Forum at Tennessee Tech University.

TTU plays a key role in the state’s P-16 initiative, which was the theme of this year’s forum. Its goals are to improve student learning at all grade levels by strengthening the connections between preschool, K-12 and higher education and to increase public awareness of the link between an educated citizenry and a healthy economy.

“TTU is pleased to be working with all of the partners to establish a local P-16 Council for the Upper Cumberland and surrounding region,” said TTU President Bob Bell.

Membership in local councils is open to representatives from public or private colleges or universities, teacher and faculty associations, local education or advocacy organizations, business and industry, parent and teacher organizations, minority advocates, Chambers of Commerce and labor and workforce development agencies. At state council meetings, the local network presents issues and ideas for consideration by the Tennessee P-16 Council.

An official petition for recognition as the Upper Cumberland P-16 Council is currently in the approval process, and the university will host a statewide P-16 Forum on Friday, Nov. 21. The purpose of the event will be to share information about forming P-16 councils, learn about activities of successful councils and identifying individual council’s goals.

The forum concluded with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Department of Education’s new Upper Cumberland regional office. The facility was formerly housed in TTU’s Smith Quad — which is slated for demolition later this year to make way for the construction of a new School of Nursing building — but has moved to a new location within the university’s Tech Village student apartment complex.

“Partnerships like this help raise the bar for education in Tennessee,” said State Education Commissioner Lana Seivers at the ceremony.

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Manning agreed, saying, “Talk is important, but actions are more important — and this is a wonderful example of the kind of commitment our higher education institutions have for helping students at all levels.”

Among those in attendance were Rep. Les Winningham, chairman of the House Education Committee; Rep. Jere Hargrove; TBR Regent Noble Cody; Cookeville Mayor Charles Womack; Putnam County Executive Kim Blaylock; Smith County Executive Michael Nesbitt; Joyce Hayes, Upper Cumberland regional director of the Tennessee Department of Education; school directors from across the Upper Cumberland region; directors from the Tennessee Technology Centers throughout the region; and community college presidents and other representatives.

The Upper Cumberland Directors’ Study Council, Tennessee Department of Education’s Upper Cumberland Regional Office and TTU College of Education and School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Extended Education sponsored the forum.

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