Area educators continue to work hard to keep their services relevant and deliver value to students at every level.
That was an overriding message Nov. 1 when the Northland Education and Business Alliance (NEBA) met at the Gladstone iWerx. With over 20 business and education leaders, the group discussed their individual efforts and heard from Dr. Larry Rideaux, Jr., president of MCC-Maple Woods, who said regional, cooperative efforts like NEBA are part of the success.
“If we’re going to have a great educational system, it takes all of us working together,” he said.
Rideaux cited several challenges that are facing nearly all levels of education, from minimum wages to workforce shortages in areas like health care. He noted that many of these developments are changing what education can and should do.
“We need to keep our institutions strong,” he said. “But we always need to be at the table to discuss ways to improve that education, to make sure we are providing good value.”
Meeting those challenges may be especially difficult today, he said, sharing that someone working at a fast-food restaurant can make more per hour than a new teacher. “Why would I make a decision to go to college right now?” he asked. “People see that and wonder.”
The answers – and there are several – include high demand/high supply programs like MCC’s nursing, Longview’s automotive or Maple Woods’ law enforcement and agricultural programs. He stressed these successes don’t happen in a vacuum, citing recent work with North Kansas City Hospital to address healthcare staffing shortages and collaborative efforts with Northwest Missouri State University.
“We’re not in it for competition,” he said, referring to several meetings and events during just the past month. “We’re in it to develop programs that help our students and help our communities.”
Two local developments included additions planned at Maple Woods and efforts related to the Northland Career Center, which is launching a $30-million fundraising campaign to match state funds for a new center. The Maple Woods’ projects will include a new agriculture annex; a sports training center; and a baseball, softball challenge field which is developing with input from the Kansas City Royals.
Led by Co-Chairs Tatia Shelton and Courtney Reyes, the group discussed other efforts by the nearly two dozen businesses and institutions represented at the meeting. Shelton is the Career Services Coordinator with Metropolitan Community College and Reyes is Government Affairs and Workforce Development director for the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City.
Founded by the EDC in 2006, NEBA is a network of education and business organizations working in partnership with the region’s economic development professionals to bring awareness of quality education in the Northland to prospective businesses and corporations. NEBA also strives to inform local students, educators and career changers about career opportunities in the area. For more information, visit nebaworkskc.org.