SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Many in the community came out to support the Lunch and Learn Expo sponsored by the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce on Thursday at the Sylacauga Board of Education Building.

Chamber Marketing Director Laura Strickland told SylacaugaNews.com the chamber tries to host one of these events every three months. A usual, Lunch and Learn Expo allows chamber businesses to present products and services to those attending. But this particular gathering was focused on education.

Instead of businesses presenting products, students from Sylacauga City Schools (SCC) and Talladega County Schools (TCS) allowed students to show off exhibits displaying the work they do in classrooms. Most of the exhibits placed an emphasis on science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. As members of the community roamed the room, they were amazed at the work local students were doing.

Strickland was one of those stunned by the work done by the local youth. “These students will be the future of Sylacauga,” she said. “They’re going to continue the success that we’ve created here in the community.”

School leaders also felt it was important to share the accomplishments of their students. “This was a great opportunity for people to see what’s happening in the schools,” said SCC Superintendent Dr. Todd Freeman. “It gives the people a chance to learn about the investments they are making as taxpayers in the local schools.”

As the expo came to an end, Freeman and Talladega County Schools Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Lacey each gave their respective school systems’ State of the Schools Address while members of the community listened and enjoyed lunch.

The speeches allowed the superintendents to share their vision for local schools and gave them a chance to highlight growth opportunities and specific programs they plan to implement to enable students to have more success.

Freeman and Lacey also discussed the challenges facing local schools on a daily basis. Both told SylacaugaNews.com poverty is one of the largest problems facing all public schools in the United States.

Freeman said poverty creates disparity between students. Lacey said that disparity is created early on in a child’s life. She said students below the poverty line, which is 72% of TCS students, normally do not go through a pre-school program. According to Lacey there is a direct correlation between student success and pre-school programs.

Another challenge highlighted was recruiting teachers to the area. Freeman said the pool of capable teachers is shrinking every year and it is important to get the best candidates to come be a part of the local school systems.

State Board of Education report cards were also a hot topic at the luncheon. Many of the local schools performed well but school leaders are always hoping to make more progress. “We are very pleased with our scores, but not satisfied,” said Freeman. He previously told SylacaugaNews.com SCS are looking to add add more resources such as teacher assistants and reading professionals to kindergarten through third grade classrooms to help students become more successful.

Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.