How this Space Town Inspires its Young People
Huntsville, Alabama is the rocket city; you can see that the moment you drive out of the airport. The large rocket and space shuttle shine out over the horizon, a visible sign of the city’s love of all things space and science. But what makes Huntsville so special isn’t just this love of rockets, but rather its commitment to ensuring its students have the best opportunity to succeed.
“What makes Huntsville unique is the value that’s placed on education,” says Russ O’Rear, Principal of Madison Crossroads Elementary School. This sentiment is seconded by teachers and leaders across the community, all reiterating the importance of high educational standards. And given the focus on technology in this northern Alabama city, it’s not hard to see why. Huntsville is home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the genome-focused HudsonAlpha, and global companies like Boeing and Toyota to name a few. Clearly, a highly skilled and talented workforce is crucial to the success of Huntsville.
Enabling business and industry to be at the same table has been a priority for State Representative Mary-Scott Hunter. “They need to be in the same room, talking to each other about real issues like the skills and abilities local employers need in graduates,” she says.
This focus on business and industry engagement is important for students as well. This helps them understand the opportunities out there, and that what they learn in school is valued by the community. “Toyota has always supported education here in Alabama” says Jim Bolte, President of the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, AL. “The stronger our workforce is, the better chance we’re going to have as a whole community.”
Creating the workforce of tomorrow requires investing in human capital where it matters most: in the classroom. This is why employers, parents, teachers, community leaders, and policymakers are working together to support students in Huntsville.
As their motto says, the sky is NOT the limit.
To learn more, visit AchievingTomorrow.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lucy Davidson is manager of programs for USCCF's Center for Education and Workforce.