Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Scoop on TMCN and Job Corps

Dwayne and I attended the Texas Midwest Community Networks Annual Conference, the launch of the year long Big Dream program for our regional economic development and marketing partnership. Each year high school students are invited to attend with their community representative and learn more about what their town’s leaders are doing. A separate breakout session for them is held during the morning workshops.

This year I was invited to present that workshop, inviting the key note speaker, Mitch Matthews, catalyst, co-founder and Head Coach of Big Dream Gathering and Jimi Coplen, Aspermont EDC Director, to join the teens in a trial run of the Big Dream Gathering that will be hosted by TMCN in March. The students defined and refined their own “big dreams” adapting the model of our treasure hunt, get a clue and decide where and how you want to live your life approach of our Youth Engagement program in Knox County and our Real Ranch Country Communities to define and support your own and others dreams project. As usual, the teenagers proved they really are smarter, or at least quicker, than the rest of us, catching on and putting “legs” on the idea immediately.

In fact, that’s my new mantra for every thing we want to accomplish. I’ve settled on the phrase “Got legs?” to best define in one sentence what it is a Visioning Committee does, turning dreams into achievable goals by giving them the “legs” needed to stand and go somewhere!

Also working with my favorite people, kids, I presented our Youth Engagement, Entrepreneurship support and ‘brand new this year’, work experience, on-the job for high school students, technical education for work force age folks and “Come Back-Give Back” scholarship programs at the Region 14 Challenges in Education Day, sponsored by our friends at the Work Force. My co-presenter was the Job Corps Director for Texas. I did not realize, before meeting with her, what an opportunity Job Corps might offer, partnering with us, for our Knox County students, to finish high school, attend college, with full financial assistance, or participate in job training for a number of in-demand-in our-region careers.

Sharing this information with the Visioning Committee led to discussion among several members who have worked with Job Corps before, all of whom were positive, and whose experience will be vital to partnering with our schools to making this tool available to our local students. I think this may have filled in the missing piece we haven’t been able to identify for those young people Judge Floyd and others of you expressed concern about being able to look in the eye and say “We are offering a real future for you in Knox County.” the very first time I met with you… year ago!

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