Daily Point of Light # 1623 Apr 24, 2000

The Maury County Education/Community/Business Partnership was formed in 1997 to bring the community together to focus resources and support efforts to improve academic achievement and career development. John Stephens was a driving force behind its creation and now serves as Chairman of the Partnership.

John Stephens discussed the need for this county-based initiative while serving as chair of the Maury County Manufacturers Bureau. Based on his concern and need for prepared workers, he chaired a subcommittee of the Bureau to focus on developing a partnership between local schools and businesses to better prepare students for gainful careers and lives. This work resulted in the formation of a cooperative education program and teacher professional development within the local school systems.

In 1997, Stephens became President of the Maury County Chamber of Commerce and championed the community need to comprehensively prepare students for careers, while building a work force to support ongoing economic and county development efforts. During this tenure he organized an effort between the local Director of Schools and Community College President and engaged the community in a full discussion of the need for structure and processes to implement changes to local education. His leadership resulted in the formation of the Maury County Education/Community/Business Partnership. Stephens subsequently sold his business, Columbia Pipe, in 1998 and assumed the Chairmanship of the Partnership.

Stephens has organized and supported the work of Partnership teams and regularly attended all meetings in order to facilitate the successful organization of this vast community movement. During this year, the Partnership created mechanisms for more than 100 employees to become involved in schools and learning, a provided career exploration activities for more 1,150 eighth and ninth graders and work-based learning activities for 150 high school students during 1998. Three curriculum re-design projects in manufacturing, business, and other subject areas were started during this time. Under Stephens’ leadership, the Partnership has also initiated a comprehensive career development plan in all Maury County Schools. The organization instituted a yearly survey collection of school to work data, provided printing resources guides to 900 teachers in Maury County and directories to civic clubs announcing opportunities for service in each school.

Broad-based volunteer efforts have been critical to the work and success of each team and project. Stephens motivates the involvement in and leadership of the Partnership’s activities, and is instrumental in developing the Partnership into an organization that includes vast segments of the community. As a result of his concerted efforts, the Maury County Education/Community/Business Partnership has encouraged dialogue resulting in the collaboration of diverse groups within Maury County to collectively prepare students to be lifelong learners and responsible citizens.