Community Colleges NC

Western Piedmont Community College works in Burke County

These lessons extend to the videos, which showcase Burke County employees telling their stories.

One video is focused on meeting the information needs of local students.

The feedback from the effort to date has also led to Work in Burke emphasizing the lifestyle of the area.

Helmick believes Work in Burke is not just shifting perceptions among students, but is changing the environment for local industry. “In the past, businesses tended to look at local education as merely a supply source of workers,” Helmick said. “But Work in Burke has helped push businesses and local educational entities together to not only help everyone be aware of the opportunities for students, but also to help us develop relevant curriculum to meet the needs of local businesses.”

He added, “Prior to Work in Burke, local industry saw little reason to be involved with local students to educate them about their businesses. But, industries now see WPCC and Burke County Public Schools not only [as] a solution to their immediate need for workers, but for making their company successful in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

For more on Work in Burke, spend some time with their presentation:

Work in Burke Deck by on Scribd

Helmick believes the campaign has produced a number of positive ripple effects for WPCC, including increasing knowledge of course offerings across the region and showcasing the possibilities for local industry to partner with the college.

Ultimately, both Helmick and Chester were optimistic about the future. Their belief in Work in Burke was clear. They illustrated multiple reasons for their positivity, including the overall impact of local and regional collaborative efforts, continued economic growth in the area, and the NC School of Science and Math (NCSSM) expansion to Burke County. 

As I walked out of the door, Helmick wanted to make sure that I knew he believes deeply that his region could become a model for rural education given NCSSM’s arrival, the efforts of Work in Burke and K-64 in Catawba County, the Manufacturing Solutions Center in Newton, new buildings at WPCC and Catawba Valley Community College, and the spirit of collaboration between all of the local community colleges.

His region, the region I grew up in, has taken blow after blow between globalization followed by the great recession. Yet if you spend an afternoon with the Work in Burke effort, you will walk away believing it might just work.

Community Colleges NC

About the author

Nation Hahn is the Chief Growth Officer for EdNC. Nation manages the Reach NC Voices initiative for EducationNC which is focused on putting the public back in public policy. Reach uses technology and participatory design strategies to connect with North Carolinians. Prior to coming to EdNC, Nation managed digital media campaigns for a range of organizations in North Carolina and nationally.… Read full bio »

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