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Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Points to Workforce Success Through Strong Community Partnerships

Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Paredes Scribner demonstrated how the District’s mission of “preparing all students for success in college, career and community leadership” aligns with meeting both the current and future needs of a vibrant Fort Worth economy. 

Dr. Scribner was a featured panelist at the Fort Worth Chamber’s State of Education luncheon September 15, where he joined other panelists who represented higher education and business:

  • Harrison Keller, commissioner of higher education for the State of Texas
  • Dion Harrison, chief diversity officer of Elevate
  • Lisa Northup, director of talent development of Elbit Systems of America

The moderator was Daniel Pullin, the John V. Roach Dean of the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University. Attendees included Fort Worth Chamber members and elected officials. The theme for the panel discussion was “Education and the Rapidly Changing Needs of Businesses.” Discussion topics were a follow-up to last year’s virtual meetings between Fort Worth ISD and local business partners. This year’s in-person dialogue allowed panelists to take a deeper dive about meeting the challenges that educators and business leaders face in preparing a homegrown workforce. 

Dr. Scribner used statistics and storytelling to explain how career preparation can begin as early as middle school and includes strong school-community partnerships.

“There are 24,000 FWISD students enrolled in career and technical education programs. We have great partnerships with groups like Tarrant To and Through and Tarrant County College to help students get certifications, licensures and degrees,” Dr. Scribner said. “We offer many pathways to college and career, and some of our highest-achieving students can graduate high school with good paying jobs that can support their families and lead to long-term success.”

Panelists discussed the continued impact of COVID-19; training our existing workforce to remain competitive; equipping students with “soft skills” in addition to specific industry training; and keeping pace with changing technological requirements.

In discussing changing technology, Dr. Scribner told attendees that “I never thought I would ever be in the Wi-Fi business, but I am. We provided Chromebooks and technology to our young learners when they had to stay home, but so many of our families do not have Wi-Fi, and a computer without Wi-Fi is like an anchor without a boat.” Dr. Scribner explained how the District had installed Wi-Fi towers, and would continue to do so, to meet the needs of students and their families, including parents who want to fill out online job applications. 

Everyone on the panel agreed that neither educators nor businesses can go back to the way things were, but should look forward and take advantage of the opportunities presented by challenges and disruptions. Dr. Scribner said now is the time to strengthen partnerships between education and business so they can help each other.

“We don’t have a choice. Our workforce is in school right now,” Dr. Scribner said. “We want to offer internships to students and externships to our teachers, so we can create a successful, homegrown workforce throughout the city.”



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