After a year without a director, the Strategic Twin Counties Education Partnership has a new executive director.
Pam Gould recently accepted the post with the organization, commonly known as STEP. Gould said that STEP, which began in 2012, operates as a collaboration of Twin Counties educational institutions, businesses, industries and community leaders who come together with one goal in mind: to improve the economic competitiveness of the region by increasing educational opportunities that lead to real-world jobs in the Twin Counties.
“Not everyone needs a four-year college degree,” Gould said. “There are great jobs in this area, especially in the field of advanced manufacturing. People just need to know how to prepare for them.”
Gould said she feels that this position is the perfect fit for her unique skill set. She earned a master’s degree in education from East Carolina University and has worked in the field of education for 30 years. Most of those years were spent working in Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, Edgecombe County Public Schools, Edgecombe Community College and Nash Community College.
“As STEP director, I am working with the business community as well as the two school superintendents and the two college presidents. All of these people are great to work with and are fully behind our goals. I feel that all of these groups have been at the same place at the same time but rarely sit at the same table to seek solutions. This is what we are trying to do.”
Gould recently retired as the director of college and career readiness at Nash Community College before assuming the position of executive director of STEP. However, she said her years serving in various positions directed at preparing students for jobs will pay dividends to the community as she steps into this new role.
“I feel that I have worked my whole life preparing for this opportunity,” Gould said.
Gould said the board of directors of STEP will be holding a retreat in January to plan for the future of the program.
“We are really trying to focus our goals and avoid duplicating the efforts of other programs that are already in place,” Gould said.
Gould sees connecting with students and their parents as a big part of her mission.
“What I see is a big disconnect. Middle school students should be choosing elective courses that connect with high school electives on a pathway that leads to great jobs,” she said. “However, a lot of times, students choose courses that seem easiest or the most fun and don’t see the end result. Parents often step back and let middle and high school students make their own decisions about courses, when this is really the time they need guidance about what pathway to choose. These are not “fluff” electives. Students can really make a wise investment in the end if they choose wisely.”
Gould said she welcomes the chance to serve the Twin Counties in her new role.
“I am honored and excited to have this opportunity with STEP,” she said. “I look forward to working collaboratively to address barriers to educational success and showcase the positives happening everyday in our schools and community.”