Business partnerships enhance education

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Whether in a good or bad economy, South Carolinians need family-supporting jobs. Recognizing this need, business, education and legislative leaders crafted the Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA) in 2005.
This major education reform, now known as Personal Pathways to Success, resulted in elementary students through adult learners engaging in career awareness and exploration anchored by an individual graduation plan that links to South Carolina’s work force needs. Collaboration between education and economic development has never been stronger in South Carolina.
Personal Pathways to Success helps increase high school graduation rates, better prepares students for college and increases parental involvement and career exploration options for students. This is done through the 12 Regional Education Centers (REC), which were created to connect businesses to schools and students.  
Thousands of businesses across the state are active partners with their RECs. A student’s connection to business is a strong motivator to complete high school and pursue career plans. Last year, the Catawba REC (serving York, Chester and Lancaster counties) directly provided dropout prevention and career development activities to more than 200 educators and 2,300 students and parents.
Also assisting in student success is the Individual Graduation Plan (IGP). Beginning in the eighth grade, and updated annually, all students in South Carolina develop an IGP with their guidance counselor and parents. Students choose clusters of study that match their interests to develop a college/career plan.
Guidance counselors in the Catawba region meet with students and parents from February to April to assist them in choosing high school courses that better match their career aspirations.
Personal Pathways to Success is succeeding. Students are provided more opportunities to interact with business professionals through guest speakers in the classroom, internships and college/career fairs.  
Students are recognizing the connection between classroom learning and a future career. We are on the right path to creating a highly skilled, well-educated work force that is vital to South Carolina’s economic competitiveness.
Members of the Catawba Regional Education Center Advisory Board are Seth Zamek (chair), Senior Helpers; Dr. Gene Moore, Lancaster County School District; Cheryl Fredrichs (vice chair), Kelly Services; Ron Roveri, York Comprehensive High School; Jeff Bushardt, Comporium Communications; Rick Jiran, Duke Energy; Dr. Greg Rutherford, York Technical College; Wayne Wingate, Brand Pro; Dr. Dennis Merrell, community member; Dr. Jennie Rakestraw, Winthrop University; Dr. Barbara Mallory, Winthrop University; Rita Revels, Schaeffler Inc.; Jim Fuller, Chester County Chamber; Hal Stone, Chester County Economic Development; Tim Hallman, Comporium Communications; Dean Faile, Lancaster County Chamber; Jonathan Phipps, Buford High School; Monica Craig, Phillips Staffing; Jim Bennett, Spratt Savings & Loan, and Lisa Robbins, REC coordinator.