Innovation Nation opens new outlook, new opportunities for workforce development.

December 14, 2022

2022 Workforce Development Summit expands teacher perspectives.

“My big takeaway was that as a middle school teacher,  I can plant the seeds of what is possible for my students in a few years.”

Comment from teacher attendee about 2022 Workforce Development Summit: Innovation Nation

Local middle and high school teachers expanded their outlook at the Shelbyville-Bedford 2022 Workforce Development Summit, as they moved beyond the classroom to envision the future of employment for their students. The experience revealed an exciting new world of opportunity right here in Bedford County as well as informative new ways teachers can help students make the most of that world.

The 2022 Workforce Development Summit: Innovation Nation, a day-long conference attended by 325 Bedford County middle and high school teachers, was sponsored by the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership, as part of the Partnership’s on-going mission of developing student educational opportunities that align with local industry needs.

“In today’s global economy an aligned talent pipeline is critical,” notes Shane Hooper, Partnership CEO. “And that alignment needs to begin as early as possible for the benefit of both our industry and our students, since more than half of students enter the workforce immediately after graduation.”

Visualizing new possibilities.
Strategizing classroom innovation.

“There are so many lucrative careers our kids can enter and not have the chains of debt that can accompany a college degree.”

Comment from teacher attendee

The Summit’s morning agenda focused on pedagogical methods and strategies for preparing students to make the most of an industrial and professional future. Topics included:

  • Fostering an innovative classroom that challenges students and prepares them to be college- and career-ready, in an address given by Deborah Knoll, Assistant Commissioner for College and Career Readiness for the TN Department of Education.
  • How teachers can incorporate an innovative high school model through work-based and school-based enterprise opportunities, in a talk given by Lorie Sexton, Director of Bedford County Schools Career-Technical Education.
  • Resources to create direct industry connections to the classroom, shared by Kelly North, Director of Existing Business Development at the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership.


 An inside view of workplace needs and challenges.


The afternoon session allowed teachers to explore local workplaces in person, as 14 companies welcomed teachers into their operations, where teachers and employers could discuss not only the hard skills needed for today’s high-skills jobs, but also the soft skills that make employees valuable team members. Teachers also gained deeper insight into how to connect the classroom to the workplace.

“While I truly believe that what I teach helps students develop better problem-solving strategies, I can encourage those interpersonal skills to be improved, too. Students need to be able to talk respectfully, ask good questions, be on time and care about work quality.”

–Comment from teacher attendee

Companies from nine different sectors hosted the teachers, including:

  • Advanced Manufacturing: Albea; Marelli North America
  • Fabrication: Cooper Steel
  • Distribution: Walmart Distribution Center; Newell Brands
  • Transportation: Titan Transfer
  • Healthcare: Vanderbilt Bedford Hospital; Middle Tennessee Pharmacy Service
  • Public Safety and Administration: Bedford County Historic Courthouse; Bedford County Justice Center
  • Aviation: Shelbyville Airport
  • Agriculture: Vannatta Farms
  • Education and Training: Tennessee College of Applied Technology Shelbyville; CTE Vocational Center

Hooper is pleased with the results of the Summit and with the Partnership’s progress in realizing its ongoing development mission. “Informing and shaping perspectives about industrial opportunity is yet another way the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership can provide the connection point between industry and education, facilitating strategic engagement.”


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