JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - An informal meeting of educators and industry officials helped make plans to better education for students in Region 8.
The first Northeast Arkansas Regional P-20 Town Hall was held Thursday at Arkansas State University.
The number 20 represents kindergarten through twelfth grade plus the 8 years in higher education possible for students.
Region 8 school administrators joined university officials to open up the conversation on how to create opportunities for students.
Shane Broadway, Vice President of University Relations for the Arkansas State University System, said studies show only half of Arkansas students attend college.
That number is something the group wants to change in hopes of helping graduates make higher wages and contribute to the workforce.
"How we can work together, instead of K12 over here and university over here, how can we work together better to try to improve that situation," is what Broadway said the meeting's purpose was.
Broadway said by bringing the groups together they could better understand how to reach students.
"It's about giving students opportunity, helping them realize the opportunity they can attend college," Broadway said.
Chamber of commerce directors and other industry and business officials also attended to provide input on what they need on their end.
Dr. Cynthia Miller, Director of the Arkansas State University STEM Education Center, was on the panel "Partnering for Solutions."
She advocates for STEM education because she says it is a lucrative field.
"STEM is an area in which our country is behind other countries and they are very profitable jobs going unfilled," Miller said.
She said studies show once students visit a college or university, they are more likely to attend.
Miller hopes by working with kindergarten through twelfth grade educators they can figure out how to get more students on the A-State campus.
"We need to plant that seed that these students are capable and we want them here," Miller said.
Broadway said once they left the town hall, he hoped to have tangible ideas and goals to work toward.
They expected 30 to 50 people to show up, but more than 120 registered and attended the town hall.
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