The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) recently convened the Future Ready Summit: Helping Students Discover Successful Routes To College, Career & Opportunity. Participants from across the state and country explored how Tennessee can adopt innovative practices and use policy levers to ensure that our students are prepared for success in the jobs of their choice. Dr. Tunisha Hobson, a Tennessee educator, shares her three key takeaways from her day at the summit below.

Career and Technical Education – The negative stigma around vocational, now career and technical education, should become obsolete. There is an immediate, ongoing need to provide students with as much access to opportunities that will connect them to college and career. Therefore, the opportunities provided within the realm of career and technical education should be presented to students as valuable options that can potentially lead them to the next level of success.

Work-Based Learning – Every student, specifically high school students, should be exposed to some type of work-based learning opportunity through job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships, and part-time job opportunities. Work-based learning provides students with unique experiences where they are able to develop the soft skills and work ethic skills needed to be a valuable asset to any employer. High-quality, work-based learning experiences can give industry partners a direct connection with Tennessee students to fill the void of workforce needs.

Innovation – Tennessee continues to be one of the fastest-improving states through the work happening in education. This work is specifically motivated by being intentional on how we prepare students for life beyond K-12, which is why promoting innovative experiences through career and technical education matters. If we are going to be future ready in Tennessee, there must be special attention focused on providing students with opportunities to be focused, exploratory, and creative thinkers. The time is now where we can turn students’ mindsets from “what if” to “what is” because forward thinking drives innovation!

Dr. Tunisha Hobson is a career and technical education teacher in Tennessee.