Texoma Leaders Share Insights on Regional Talent Strategy for Rural Texas

Six months following the launch of the Texoma Promise, a groundbreaking regional talent development program aimed at producing stronger and more equitable outcomes for rural Texas students, Texoma regional leaders sat down with EMS Executive Director Dr. Eric Ban to discuss the first year of the program and what it means for their community.  

The panel discussion took place at the Spring 2022 Lunch and Learn session at the Dallas College Garland Center on April 19, part of an ongoing series of learning summits hosted by Economic Mobility Systems (EMS) for educators and community leaders focused on improving college and workforce outcomes across Texas.

The Texoma Promise is part of the Rural College Promise Program, a wider initiative funded by Greater Texas Foundation with support from EMS, Rural Community College Alliance, and other regional and national organizations, that is developing a model for building and sustaining regional talent strategies tailored to the needs and resources of rural communities.  

“Grayson College and Sherman ISD have a very special relationship that models the deep partnership required to more effectively move students through postsecondary programs and into good regional job.”
Dr. Eric Ban, EMS

During the discussion, Grayson College President Dr. Jeremy McMillen and Sherman ISD Superintendent Dr. David Hicks reflected on their partnership and work across the five key areas integral to the success of regional talent strategies and shared their hopes for the immediate future.

College and ISD Relationships Vital for Student and Community Success

Asked how they had engaged a leadership coalition around the concept of the Texoma Promise, Dr. McMillen and Dr. Hicks talked about the foundational relationship between college leaders and partnering ISD superintendents – starting with their own history together and building on relationships with 4-year university partners and additional ISDs within their region.    

Strong college and ISD relationships, they agreed, were vital for the success of students, and the surrounding community.  Explained Dr. McMillen, adding employer and workforce relationships to this mix not only makes sense, but it is the natural next step to maximizing benefits for students, families, and communities.

“The Regional Coalition is a vital part of this work, and it is about trusting relationships between K12, higher ed, community, and workforce leaders.”
Dr. Jeremy McMillen, Grayson College.

Changing the Narrative About College-Going with Students and Families

Providing students with opportunities for a better future is at the heart of the Promise model and central to Regional Talent Strategies, particularly in the rural setting.  For many students and their families, without the program, such opportunities wouldn’t otherwise exist.  

Reflecting on his experience, Dr. Hicks stressed the importance of making sure that students and families clearly understand the value proposition of college, including affordability with the Texoma Promise.  Dr. McMillen added to this, detailing the wrap around student support services that Grayson College is planning to provide to ensure student success.

 “We have talked for years about how to do this work with greater focus and intentionality. The Texoma Promise and the technical support from EMS is making our vision a reality for our students and families.”
Dr. David Hicks, Sherman ISD

“A year from now, we hope to see many more students enrolling in and being successful in college, not only starting but continuing and finishing. It’s vital that we don’t just make this about starting. This is about finishing, whether at Grayson or on to a university where they can get a bachelor’s degree, on whatever career path they choose.”
Dr. Jeremy McMillen, Grayson College

About EMS Regional Talent Networks

EMS Regional Talent Networks helps regions and states build robust talent ecosystems that develop regional leadership strategy and use empowering innovative technologies to seamlessly connect students, institutions, and employers.


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