P-20: Promoting College and Career Readiness in Central Texas

By Fred Hills

Preparing local students for successful journey through school and college to careers is critical to the well-being and growth of our community. Started 8 years ago, the HOT P-20 works to promote streamlined, transparent degree pathways for students to move quickly and successfully through their education and onto college and/or a career.  The Heart of Texas (HOT) P-20 brings together representatives from the independent school districts (ISD), institutions of higher education (IHE), Region 12 Education Service Center, industry and government across six counties: Bosque, Hill, Falls, Limestone, Freestone and McLennan to work towards this goal.  Among the higher education representatives are McLennan Community College, Texas State Technical College, and Hill County with representation from both Tarleton State University, Texas Tech through MCC’s University Center.

The HOT P-20 mission can best be summarized as follows:

  • Collaborating by building cross-community team to address education and career possibilities for all students.
  • Informing our diverse communities about ongoing initiatives, best practices and available resources.
  • Advocating for educational best practices with at the state and local levels.

Some of our ongoing projects include:

  • Academic Vertical Alignment Training and Renewal (AVATAR) program that brings together faculty from the high schools and post-secondary institutions who teach Math, English, College and Technical education, and STEM to discuss differences in instructional techniques and ways to better prepare students for college-level work while in high school.  AVATAR also include high school and college counselors to address ways to better advise students in preparation for their transfer to college and/or a career.
  • Building closer ties between education and industry under our Groundhog Job Shadowing initiative celebrated on February 2 each year promoting job shadowing, internships, externships, career fairs and industry visits.
  • Partnering to support local educational initiatives and programs such on Region 12 ESC’s Connect 3, Teacher’s Gone Tech, Girls in STEM, career fairs, etc.
  • Building collaborative agreements among secondary, post-secondary and industry to offer degree pathways and college preparation courses for students while still in high school.
  • Providing an annual forum on “State of Education in Central Texas” in the Spring to share ongoing educational initiatives and career preparation opportunities.  This year’s event is scheduled for April 20 from 11:30 to 1:30 PM at MCC’s conference center.  All are welcome.
  • Working with Prosper Waco and the Waco Chamber to inform them on ongoing educational initiatives and promote education to career programs.
  • Surveying the community for ways to better serve all partners in this effort.

HOT Regional P-20 operates as a voluntary organization.  For more information on the HOT P-20 and its programs, check out our webpage at http://www.hotp20.org


Dr. Fred Hills is the current president of the HOT P-20 and Dean of Arts, Science and Business at McLennan Community College.  He has worked and lived in the Waco community for over 20 years and has served on the HOT P20 for the last four years.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

We’re Exploring Questions that Matter to our Community – Join us for Scholar Day!

By Fred Hills

Inquiry. Research. The ability to come up with questions and actively, rigorously pursue answers to those questions is at the heart of education.  It is the key to life-long learning, to new inventions, to solving problems, and to improving the way we live and work together in our community and in our world.  Just as important as being able to find answers is the ability to communicate findings clearly so that they can be of use to the wider world.  At McLennan Community College, students practice inquiry and research throughout the academic year.  We would like to invite you to hear about some of their findings and to see for yourself how well they communicate what they have learned in their explorations.

scholars fairEvery fall and spring semester McLennan Community College conducts an event to showcase student research projects.  The event, called Scholar Day, is an opportunity for students from across campus to share the results of their inquiry and the impact it has on our community.  Participating students come from a wide variety of disciplines including Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Management, Marketing, Music, and Respiratory Care, among others.

Research projects at MCC are student initiated with faculty helping guide them through their exploratory work.   Students then present findings through scholarly presentations, exhibits, poster boards, art work, music, and prototypes with the campus and the community.   Research not only prepares the student for their chosen career path, but will help them if they choose to further their education beyond MCC.

scholars fair 2This semester’s program includes over 20 presentations that address timely topics affecting our world today, for example undocumented students in higher education, using vitamin C to fight cancer, and the effects of violent video games on gamers.  Several presentations tackle medical topics, like adult respiratory distress syndrome, interstitial lung disease, and LSVT BIG and VOICE therapy on Parkinson’s disease.  Scholar Day will also include a few unique items, such as sculptures, painting, and pottery from the Fine Arts department, and inventions and “Rube Goldberg” machines from the Engineering department.  Last fall saw over 300 students participate, a number that continues to climb each semester.

Come join our students in the excitement of academic inquiry and exploration!  If you would like to attend MCC’s Scholar Day, it will be at Highland Gym on Friday, April 22 from 10 to 1 PM.  All students and community members are invited to join us.  If you need any more information, please contact Dr. Staci Taylor at [email protected].


 

Fred HillsDr. Fred Hills is the current president of the HOT P-20 and Dean of Arts, Science and Business at McLennan Community College. He has worked and lived in the Waco community for over 20 years and has served on the HOT P20 for the last four years.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

Here’s Your Chance to get a Clear Idea of the State of Education in the Heart of Texas

by Fred Hills

Few things are more important to the prosperity of our community than our educational systems. As citizens, it is our responsibility to keep up to date on the state of those systems, but that is sometimes difficult to do. Where can you get objective information about how well the schools systems are performing? How can a “lay” person get in depth information about some of the important decisions being made that have the potential to affect our children and our economic prospects? How can we get that information we need to be informed, responsible parents, teachers and community members when it comes to education? Fortunately, an opportunity is on the horizon to help us do just that.

MCC 50 logoThe Heart of Texas P-20 Council & Prosper Waco are cohosting this year’s State of Education in the Heart of Texas on Tuesday, April 19 from 11 AM to 1:30 PM at the McLennan Community College Conference Center. The community is invited.

The forum will provide statistics and information on the progress of local educational efforts followed by panel discussions giving students, industry partners and educational leaders the opportunity to share their perspectives on education in central Texas. Prosper Waco will also share their ongoing efforts in bringing together collaborating partners from the greater Waco area in cooperatively addressing educational issues in our community.

We are honored to have Texas’s House Representative Jimmie Don Aycock as our lunch keynote speaker. Rep Aycock represents District 54 and currently serves as the chair of the Public Education Committee and a member of the Defense & Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He will share his perspectives on educational policy in Texas.

The agenda is as follows:

  • 11:00-11:10 a.m.: Introduction by Fred Hills, Heart of Texas P-20 Council and Matthew Polk, Executive Director of Prosper Waco
  • 11:10-11:30 a.m.: Presentation: Statistics of Education in the Heart of Texas
  • 11:30-11:50 a.m.: Industry Panel Discussion
  • 11:50-12:10 p.m.: Student Panel Discussion
  • 12:10-1:00 p.m.: Lunch & Keynote Speaker, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock
  • 1:00-1:30 p.m.: Updates from the Heart of Texas P-20 Council and Prosper Waco

Registration cost is $15 which includes lunch. All are invited and welcome to register at Region 12 ESC’s website txr12.escworks.net/catalog/search.aspx, Session #88565. If you have any questions about the forum, contact either Fred Hills at [email protected] or Chris Holecek at [email protected]esc12.net.


 

Fred HillsDr. Fred Hills is the current president of the HOT P-20 and Dean of Arts, Science and Business at McLennan Community College. He has worked and lived in the Waco community for over 20 years and has served on the HOT P20 for the last four years.