By Bruce Williams, Principal, GeoEngineers and Co-Chair of GSI’s K-12 Education Committee
From the business perspective, our current students are the next generation of a skilled workforce that will keep Spokane competitive and thriving. The panel for GSI’s January GMGS breakfast meeting included representatives of K-12 and higher education, a current student, and a young professional, who shared their thoughts on the topic Education Grows Economies. We require a talented and educated workforce, properly equipped with the skills and innovation to help us compete in an increasingly challenging economic climate. Our unified commitment includes advocating for bonds and levies, developing and enhancing workforce programs, and building connections with students, educators and businesses. We must maintain and continue to grow our robust and innovative K-12 system, which includes advancing Pre-K programs, in order to attract new businesses and their employees to our region. Enhancing educational opportunities and supporting a learning culture for our students builds a strong social and economic foundation for our community. Education is the best investment we can make for the long-term health and prosperity of our region and our nation.
The GSI K-12 Committee consists of Spokane County K-12 education leaders, non-profit education-focused organizations, and businesses interested in enhancing opportunities for our students. We meet bimonthly to discuss and better understand the driving factors influencing education in our region, enabling us to set priorities. During the past year, our meetings progressed through the educational stages of our students, starting with Early Learning and Pre-K, moving to K-4th Grade and Literacy, then through Middle School and Early Career Exploration, transitioning into High School and Common Core, and finishing with High School Graduation and College Readiness. During these meetings, we heard from experts from education, non-profits and businesses regarding the key milestones at each stage and how these can influence a student’s education, and ultimately their career choices.
We discussed GSI’s Workforce programs, including Teaching the Teachers workshops, where teachers visit and learn about businesses; and Business AfterSchool, where students visit businesses focused in health care, computer science, engineering, and manufacturing. These programs provide participating businesses with hands-on opportunities to connect with students and educators, and conversely gives teachers and students a better understanding of the growing and thriving STEM fields. GSI also leads the Spokane STEM Network, which is focused on developing opportunities for students to succeed in the STEM industries. Additionally, the K-12 Committee in collaboration with GSI’s Public Policy team tracks the policy issues in Olympia and Washington, DC and helps craft and clarify our educational legislative priorities.
#EducationGrowsEconomies #CreateSomethingGreater #SpokaneEconomicDevelopment