Why Building Sustainable Partnerships With The Business Community Is Key To Student Success

High school students in today’s world are a new and unique breed. They come from a world where advanced technology always existed and where most have never even seen a chalkboard. Students today can instantly access information on their smart phone and communicate without ever speaking a word. In classrooms where a laptop or iPad isn’t available, that smart phone becomes the default. They have been born into a generation where immediate gratification is an expectation. On the opposite side of the spectrum, most cooperate leaders from my generation, grew up in an environment where information was accessed in the World Book Encyclopedia. Yes, I can still remember the set my parents had in our home and even the guy that came around each year selling them door-to-door. We communicated with our friends by clandestinely passing notes in class while our teachers showed film on a 16 mm projector. My point here is that the perception of teaching and learning for a lot of people outside of education is based on their own experiences. People who went to school in the eighties and are now leading major corporations and businesses can find it difficult to relate to this new “I want it now” generation. I completely understand, and I am an educator. However, understanding is one thing, hiring someone with that type of mindset to a position of responsibility can be quite different.

This makes building sustainable partnerships with the business community increasingly vital to the success of today’s students. Business partners can make a significant impact on student learning in more ways than anyone ever imagined. It is happening throughout the country on a large scale. Schools like Taft Information Technology High School in Cincinnati, OH, offer real-world experience provided through Taft’s strong partnerships with Cincinnati Bell, where students have access to cutting-edge technology. In Anchorage, AK, the Anchorage School District’s School Business Partnership Department connects more than 600 schools and business partners with a goal to foster positive working relationships with businesses; assist in employability and work force development; build bridges of understanding between educational institution and the community leading to better citizens and employees. And, here locally in a district in Manor, Texas, Samsung Austin Semiconductor engineers volunteer once a week mentoring students using a STEM focused approach. Samsung, the largest single chip manufacturing plant in North America, does more than just provide mentoring; they provide additional funding through grants to the district for sustainable initiatives. In Austin, TX, the Austin Chamber of Commerce leads regional efforts to track K-12 school district performance and increase the number of students ready for and enrolled in higher education. They have brought together 15 school districts and 10 institutions of higher education and along with the area’s workforce, have developed a regional initiative where everyone is working together to ensure that employers have the talent they need to power their company’s growth.

The Chamber does an incredible job in working with area school districts and area businesses to align stakeholders and keep them focused on this all too important mission.

It is crucial to do your research before embarking on initiating a partnership between a school and a business. Taking the time to work through the bureaucratic details, developing a comprehensive plan, and communicating clearly each stakeholders expectations in the partnership are critical to its success. I have seen first hand how impactful even a small partnership can have on a school or even an entire district. I believe that developing strong partnerships with area businesses is a key factor in helping close the poverty gap throughout the country. It is really about collaboration on a much grander scale. Businesses will certainly benefit from investing in the future and in the end, if done the right way, the community and most importantly, the students, are the true benefactors.

Check out this comprehensive report on the importance of education-business partnerships:


About Kevin Brackmeyer

I have been an educator for over 28 years. During that time I have worked as a special education teacher and department head, assistant principal, middle school principal, high school principal, executive principal, and superintendent of schools. Throughout my 28 years in education, I have worked primarily with low socio-economic students and families. I am an advocate for the less fortunate and have served in that capacity since I was very young. One of my strongest attributes is initiating & building positive & sustainable relationships with the business community in order to advance the mission of helping others to become successful individuals in our community. I firmly believe that building strong relationships with community stakeholders is crucial to the success of any organization. During my tenure as a superintendent we established partnerships with Austin Travis County Integral Care & People’s Community Clinic to provide integrated behavioral health and medical care to all students. Through strategic planning and collaboration we built a health care center that now serves all students and their families & no one is turned away. I have worked strategically with community members and stakeholders to bring in funding for various initiatives and programs including passing a 124.9 million dollar bond and also securing millions of dollars in grant funding. I have also led fund raising efforts at various levels throughout my career in order to support community non-profit organizations such as the American Cancer Society, United Way, Toys for Tots, Make-A-Wish, and the Ronald McDonald House. I worked collaboratively with Austin Community College to create a partnership that provides industry recognized certifications for high school students, in addition to earning high school credit, and transferable college credit. A Certification Center opened in September of 2015; the first in Central, Texas. We continued to develop additional partnerships with other industries and educational institutions to develop a pathway for students to obtain additional certifications. I have always been a servant leader and am passionate about building up others around me to become effective leaders in the areas that they serve.

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