A conversation about Johnston Community College and its impact on the county rarely concludes without the mention of a partnership. In today’s economy, with resources at a premium, partnerships are imperative. Marriage cannot exist without partnership. Friendship, learning, service to others, communication, decision making, project outcomes, all, in some fashion, require partnerships.
In the college’s 45th year of existence, we at JCC understand our place in this community is not without the support of others in partnership with us. Simply put, JCC is a better educational institution today because of the dedicated commitment to our mission from local business partners such as Johnston Health, Waste Industries, Novo Nordisk, Grifols, KS Bank, PGI, Caterpillar and Smithfield Manor, just to name a few.
At its annual Breakfast before Business in February, JCC recognized another business leader dedicated to closing the skills gaps of current employees and potential new hires. At its Selma location, SONA BLW manufactures precision-forged gear and axle components for heavy-duty vehicles. SONA leaders are always at the table with us to take part in round-table discussions and volunteer their ideas and expertise. They offer invaluable apprenticeship opportunities to our students and are giving us critical guidance and input on how to improve our advanced manufacturing training.
Not only is JCC fortunate to have such a great partner, but the benefit to the county is overwhelming. For example, in the attempt to pay it forward, SONA has been meeting with JCC to create a skills-development center. The ultimate goal for SONA is to train its own employees. The altruistic goal, however, is to create such a center for the training and development of future employees not only for SONA but for other companies throughout the county.
What better way to express partnership than through the growth and development of others? The learning experience itself has to be a partnership between learned and learner. In so doing, barriers to productivity are reduced, if not eliminated, and everyone wins. A student is able to be a valuable asset to family, employer and community. An employer is provided with a scarce commodity – a skilled employee. The community benefits by having a readily available workforce, capable leaders and conduits for change.
JCC is so proud to be in partnership with many businesses, industries and organizations throughout Johnston County, not the least of which is SONA BLW Precision Forge. This model of partnership expresses the epitome of servant leadership as we move beyond obstacles of self-preservation and toward platforms of problem solving. For as Paulo Freire once wrote, “No one can be authentically human while he prevents others from being so.” To me, being authentically human calls us to unencumbered partnership. Thank you, SONA, for leading the way.
David N. Johnson is president of Johnston Community College.