Tuesday, 28 February 2017 17:09

Take time to mentor a mind of the young

Written by  Bill Russell

The uncharacteristically warm days these past few weeks had me climbing into the attic to retrieve my summer clothes in anticipation of the spring and summer days ahead. Grabbing what I thought to be a box of summer shirts turned out instead to be old scrapbooks and albums.

Feeling nostalgic, I found myself perusing through a worn binder filled with photos from grade school and most of my early report cards. I laughed when I read the comments from my first and second grade teachers who cited “Billy is much too talkative,” and “Billy is a really busy boy,” which was polite Southern speak for “Billy simply cannot stay in his seat!”

The truth is I was a very bad student in elementary school and there is a real place in heaven for those teachers whose patience was extremely taxed teaching such an immature and talkative kid. It was not until high school that I hit my stride and found a love of history, political science and writing. I have to admit, there are times I wish I could go back and thank those women who persevered with me. I wish I could express my gratitude to Mrs. Hope and Mrs. Sellers, whose names I still fondly recall 50 years later.

Education is the foundation of our economic and business development at the lake. Perhaps no single issue impacts commerce more than workforce development. The strength of the American economy hinges on our public and private school systems as well as post-secondary education and vocational training.

Recently in a Chamber meeting of corporate CEOs and entrepreneurs, they pointed to the lack of a skilled workforce as a challenge to their success. They stressed it is critical that we develop our talent and prepare our young people who will soon enter the workforce.

On March 16, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will have an opportunity to hear from both our current and incoming Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendents, when we host our Education PowerLuncehon at NorthStone Country Club in Huntersville. It will be an opportunity to thank Anne Clark for her service as well as welcome new Supt. Clayton Wilcox.

The following day, March 17, the Chamber will host a Focus Friday with area charter and private schools at the Chamber. Both events provide an opportunity to hear how our educational leaders are developing our future employees. There will also be school career fairs at Pine Lake Prep on March 7 and Hough High School on March 8. At those events, area business representatives will meet with students and help them prepare for their vocational future.

Joseph Addison once said, “I consider the human soul without education like marble in a quarry, which shows none of its inherent beauties until the skill of the polisher fetches out the colors and makes the surface shine.”

Looking at those hand-written notes from my teachers brought a bright smile to my face and a little tug on my conscience. We can all mentor a student, provide a business internship, participate in a career fair and donate to a school fundraiser. That is the responsibility we have to the future and the obligation we all have to the past.

Bill Russell is the President and CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

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