In order to compete in the global economy, Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick encouraged local businesses to foster relationships with students, in an effort to bring them back to the community when they finish their schooling, at the State of Education Breakfast in Ashburn Tuesday morning.
It’s all about relationships," Hatrick said. "We’re competing against Boston, Atlanta. We need to build relationships early on."
He encouraged business leaders to reach out to students now, offer them mentorships and part-time jobs, so they come back when they are looking for a job.
"The state of education of Loudoun is strong," Hatrick said. "But for us to continue to improve, it will take a community effort."
AT THE BREAKFAST, Hatrick outlined successful programs, such as the federally-funded Head Start Program, which serves 3- and 4-year-old children from low-income families, and the locally-funded STEP program, which serves to 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families who are not eligible for Head Start, or the special education early childhood classes. In addition, a full-day kindergarten program for "at-risk" children, or children from low-income families, has been implemented in nine county public schools.
Hatrick also talked about the renovations underway at Blue Ridge, Seneca Ridge, Simpson and Sterling middle schools. LCPS is committed to making sure the older schools will be able to support programs as well any new school, Hatrick said.
The superintendent said he and School Board members will discuss the new Monroe Technology Center, to be built in fall 2011 at Tuesday night’s School Board meeting.
The new Monroe Technology Center will house 1,000 students and will foster a "real-world business environment," he said
IN AN EFFORT to bridge the gap between schools and businesses, Claude Moore Foundation representatives Randy Sutliff and Jesse Wilson presented Hatrick with a $150,000 check.
The foundation uses its money to advance educational opportunities in the Virginia area, Sutliff said.
The check was made out to Inova Loudoun Hospital and the money will go toward a business partnership between the hospital and the public school system.
There is a critical shortage in the medical technology field, "people who support doctors and nurses and make hospitals run," Hatrick said. The superintendent said he would like to get students interested in these fields.
Hatrick said the money may or may not lead to a new institution, but hopes to establish a medical technology training program with the hospital, to begin in high school and continue on to the college level.
"We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do with this," Hatrick said, "but we’re really excited about it."
THE SUPERINTENDENT concluded the breakfast with a goal.
"We need to captivate kids at a time when they’re making decisions," he said.
The reason for meetings like this, chamber president Tony Howard said, is to bridge the gap between business and community.
With the help of local business leaders, Hatrick said he hopes to expose students to the vast array of career choices, and the Inova partnership program will help.
"The whole field of medicine is just exploding. The need is huge," he said. "So the job opportunities are huge."