LONOKE, Ark. (KTHV) - Monday isn't just the start of the school year for Lonoke School District, it's the start of a new program.
This initiative started with what's called Lonoke 2022, which is the communities vision for the future.
Shaping that future starts in the classroom for these residents.
"We're creating a better place for them, both from a quality of life perspective and from a quality of employment perspective," said the Chamber of Commerce president, Ryan Biles.
Lonoke teachers, business owners and lawmakers hold a similar vision.
"We're finding out about what job needs exist in our community, what particular skills are needed in each of those sectors. And our teachers our learning from those professionals so they can go back and create an instructional pathway," said Biles.
The Business and Education Cooperative will kick-start Monday, August 13.
"Through working and partnerships with Lonoke Public School District," said Biles.
The goal is to keep students in town after they walk the graduation stage by showing them what job options are available to them in their own backyard. Teachers were able to also learn what local businesses are looking for in employees.
"When I started teaching it was difficult because it became very apparent for me, very quickly, that there is a lot of untapped talent going out the door," said Rebekah DiGiacomo.
Educators said an internship or job shadowing experience early on can change the way students think about what's next.
"I want them to have a full and fulfilled future," DiGiacomo added.
Business owners participating range from the fields of construction to hospitality.
"My children attend school here and I just want to be able to contribute to give other options for kids," said business owner Shane Whitehurst.