Waco working on teacher and high-school-to-career 'pipelines'

By Hermann Pereira

November has been very productive for our education team at Prosper Waco. We have spent the past few months looking at two very important “pipelines” in our community — teaching and high-school-to-career.

The teacher pipeline has many strengths here in McLennan County. Our education system depends on the quality of teachers, and our community has top notch individuals in our classrooms. We also have great teacher preparation programs that are building the educators for the future.

Any pipeline will have weaknesses, and we have a couple. We need more teacher candidates, and we need them to reflect ethnic and racial diversity. We need more people to take the plunge and become educators, but the more our teacher workforce can reflect our student body the better.

I am confident our community approach here at Prosper Waco can be a big part of the success moving forward. A Community of Practice group is being assembled as we speak. It will consist of key leaders in this space who will be looking at creative ways to fix the leaky parts of our pipeline.

The high-school-to-career pipeline is another area where there are lots of key assets but also lots of areas where we can see improvements. We have school districts going above and beyond preparing students for their futures. There are institutions of higher education that are doing innovative things to ensure that students persist and graduate on time. But one of our biggest challenges as a community is the growing number of students who graduate from high school and do not have a solid plan for their future.

This growing number of students is without a plan for continued education or training is not one institution’s problem. To address the challenge, groups like the McLennan County College Access Network and the Education and Workforce and Talent Alliance, among others, will be key in creating sustainable solutions.

We will need to rally together as a community to fix our leaky pipes in our pipeline because our students in McLennan County deserve it. I am proud to work for an organization that is devoted to finding community solutions to all of our important pipelines.

Hermann Pereira is Prosper Waco’s senior content specialist for education.