For years, I was involved at MetroWest Elementary School. I was an Additions volunteer, PTA president and a substitute teacher. Then I served as PTA president at Gotha Middle School and Olympia High School. I enjoyed working with and supporting students. It’s truly no wonder why I was attracted to and sought out the role of president of the West Orange Chamber. Its purpose in supporting the business community was paramount, of course, yet its support of education made it the perfect fit.
How the Chamber Supports Education
This chamber has supported children and their education for many years. It has been recognized by Orange County Public Schools for its commitment with several awards. The programs that truly stand out are Student of Achievement and Renown (SOAR); West Orange Program for Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs (WOPTE), sponsored by Bright Future Electric, Walmart and June Engineering; and our scholarships for high school seniors. These scholarships are for University of Central Florida, Valencia College or Orange Technical College and are provided by the Dan Petro Foundation.
The latter are provided in partnership with our foundation, the West Orange Foundation. They were all presented at the Education Awards program sponsored by Orlando Health at Ocoee High School. In addition to these programs, the chamber has advocated for the half penny sales tax to advance school renovations and the building of relief schools.
The support doesn’t end there. We work with our local businesses to promote Teach In. Held in November of every school year, this program encourages employees to speak to students about their selected careers, especially those in skilled labor.
Community Support for the Cause
This year, we’re working with OCPS, CareerSource Central Florida, UCF and Valencia College to catalog all the programs and partnerships that have been created for our students so they may embark on a career to fill the jobs of today and into the future. So much has happened in recent years to address the shortage of labor in key industries. The chamber is helping to make sure our students, parents and employers are aware of them. We hope to also be able to identify other needs and develop programs to fill those needs.
With all these programs and focus on students to prepare them as future earners, we know that West Orange County will continue to be the sought-after community in which to live and work.