Middletown superintendent: ‘If we work together, the possibilities are endless’

About 250 people attended the Chamber of Commerce serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton annual meeting Thursday night at Miami Valley Gaming in Monroe. Ryan Burgess, director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, was the keynote speaker. SUBMITTED
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About 250 people attended the Chamber of Commerce serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton annual meeting Thursday night at Miami Valley Gaming in Monroe. Ryan Burgess, director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, was the keynote speaker. SUBMITTED

Middletown City Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. “challenged” business leaders to think of innovative ways to work outside their organizations to prepare for the “boom” he predicted in the next five years.

Styles, a guest speaker at the Chamber of Commerce serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton’s annual dinner, talked about the “why,” “how” and “what.”

“What is your motivation for doing what you do?” the first-year superintendent asked the 250 who gathered Thursday night at Miami Valley Gaming.

“If you can answer that question — it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about being a parent, being a mentor, being a businessman, being an elected official — if you can answer the why, figuring out the how and what is the easy part. We often start with the how and forget to think about the why.”

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Styles spoke on behalf of the four school districts the chamber represents: Edgewood, Madison, Middletown and Monroe. Each year, those districts produce about 740 high school graduates, said Rick Pearce, president of the chamber. Of those graduates, 30 percent, or 222, will enroll in a four-year college and 5 percent, or 37, will enter the military, he said.

That means the other 481 graduates “need our help choosing a direction,” Pearce told the crowd.

Of those who enter college, 56 percent, or 124 students, will leave without a degree after six years.

So the 605 total students — those without a college degree — “need a path,” Pearce said.

By 2020, 65 percent of the jobs will required post secondary education or training, he said.

Pearce said businesses throughout the region will be searching for “good, talented young people” to fill the positions and grow with the company.

Styles said districts need to be creative in their approach in how they’re educating students. He predicted a “boom” for the area within the next five years.

“Before it booms lets figure out the why together,” Styles said. “So that when the boom happens, the how and the what have been executed with precision, and we all can celebrate a prosperous environment. If we work together, the possibilities are endless.”

Then he added a slogan often repeated in the Middletown district: “Now is the time.”

He said the Middletown district recently released its three-year strategic plan. The four key areas are: instructional excellence, valuing diversity, student and family wellness and communication and community engagement.

The goal?

“We are trying to break the mold,” he said of traditional classroom education. “We want to break down the doors and allow you (business community) to come in and partner with us to redefine how to educate our students.”