With over 80 people in attendance, including dignitaries such as Mayor Will Cox, Mayor Frank Stafford, Mayor-elect David Jackson, Senator Jerry Rhoads, Representative-elect Ben Waide, Representative Eddie Ballard, and several more, the event brought a full house, offered great breakfast food, and played host to several “entrepreneurial” booths from local schools as well as a speech from the Commissioner of Education in the State of Kentucky, Dr. Terry Holliday.
Following introductions from the President/CEO of Trover Health System, Berton Whitaker, Deputy Superintendent of Hopkins Co. Schools, Linda Zellich, and Superintendent of Hopkins Co. Schools, James Stevens—as well as a Presentation of Colors from members of the MNHHS Navy JROTC, a performance of the National Anthem from HCCHS, and an invocation from Dr. Joe Leonard of Madisonville’s First Baptist Church—Dr. Holliday took to the podium and discussed the current status of education both locally and beyond.
“We used to talk about the three ‘R’s, but we’re talking about the three ‘E’s today—education that leads to employment that leads to an improved economy,” said Dr. Holliday. “Economy is driven by employment, which has to be driven by improving our educational outcomes for children.”
However, as Dr. Holliday went on to note, there are some current issues with the status of educational standards in the US that the entire nation will have to tackle head-on in the immediate future.
“We are facing the first generation ever in America that will be less educated than their parents,” said Holliday. “The International Student Achievement Program listed the results of their 2009 international study this week, which covered assessments in reading, math, and science. Those results say we’re about ‘average’—we’re in the ‘middle of the pack’ out of assessments from 60 other countries. What scared me most, though, was when I looked at who was number one. Number one across the board—reading, math, and science—was Shanghai, China. This causes concern, but I believe that in Kentucky, and in the nation, we can reverse that trend, but we need strong community support.”
With this in mind, Dr. Holiday lined out several future goals for our state and community that he believes will improve the three, interconnected “E”s.
“Currently, 50,000 children are in 8th grade in Kentucky,” said Dr. Holliday. “I predict that 17,000 out of those 50,000 will complete high school, be in college, and be career ready by 2015 when they graduate high school, which equals out to about 34%. However, the prediction is that by 2018, 65% of the jobs in Kentucky will require training beyond high school. Do you see the gap? It’s about 17,000 children. So we’ve got to get 17,000 more of these 8th graders and have them ready in 5 years.”
After receiving a hearty applause, Dr. Holliday’s speech came to a close and attendants were invited to see this year’s “Walk of Fame,” wherein Hopkins County schools were presented by students via an “entrepreneurial” booth and of their own making. Included in the Walk of Fame were students and volunteers from South Hopkins Middle, Madisonville North Hopkins, Pride Elementary, Browning Springs Middle, Jesse Stuart Elementary, Earlington Elementary, Grapevine Elementary, West Hopkins Accelerated, and Hanson Elementary.
Ranging anywhere from knitting, reading, and more, the booths gave community and business members a chance to see the outcome of their support first-hand, while also getting to meet some great kids from all over the county.
While at the Walk of Fame, iSurf News spoke with the Career Education Coordinator for Hopkins County Schools, Mary Chandler, who spoke on the event as a whole, explaining that, “The Breakfast of Champions and Walk of Fame is an opportunity for Hopkins County Schools to thank the business partners that work with students in all 13 schools, as well as to talk about entrepreneurship and workplace skills that all students need to be successful when they graduate from school.”
“School is the student’s workplace, so you transition the skills that come from attending schools and doing your best when you go into the adult workplace,” added Chandler. “It’s so important for kids to hear about that, but when they hear about it from the business community it really makes an impression.”
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