HCTC’s Efforts to Promote Education Lead to Smart Rural Community Showcase Award

CTC is enthusiastically engaged in the communities it serves, and those efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. The cooperative’s recent endeavor to help local high school students has earned HCTC a prestigious national recognition — the 2020 Smart Rural Community Showcase Award. With HCTC’s help, a local school district was able to offer new opportunities to high school students that will yield lifelong dividends.

HCTC is one of four recipients of the award, which the NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association presented. The Showcase Award goes to program members that best exemplify the goal of driving growth in rural communities. NTCA represents nearly 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies in rural communities across America.

“The 2020 Showcase Award winners are truly the best of the best who went above and beyond to serve their communities,” says Shirley Bloomfield, NTCA’s chief executive officer. “I want to congratulate HCTC for winning the 2020 Showcase Award and also to thank them for the work they have done to keep small-town America connected.”

Credit for the recognition belongs to the cooperative’s dedicated employees. “Their hard work and diligence have made a huge difference in the lives of our customers,” HCTC CEO R. Craig Cook says. “And to our customers, we say ‘thank you’ for trusting us to provide high-quality service to keep you connected to work, school, family and friends. We are grateful for you.”

OPENING DOORS IN INGRAM

When an opportunity arose to assist students in the Ingram Independent School District, HCTC jumped at the chance. The cooperative believes the well-being of school districts plays a vital role in the trajectory of the overall community.

Increasingly young adults are choosing to not continue their education beyond high school. Whether it’s due to demographics, financial hardships, or even families asking themselves whether the cost is worth it, over time this nationwide trend will take a toll on our local communities. In spite of our strong economy, employers still need skilled workers with a four-year or associate degree, or some other skill or trade that requires certificates or specific credentials.

Ingram ISD Superintendent Bobby Templeton recognized the pattern and decided to do something about it. In cooperation with the Texas Education Agency, the district began working to become a Pathways in Technology Early College High School, a designation also known as P-TECH.

P-TECHs give students the chance to earn an associate’s degree or industry certification or to complete work-based job training while simultaneously earning their high school diploma. Students can choose between four courses of study: animal science, applied agriculture engineering, cybersecurity and networking, and health science.

For P-TECH to work, the district’s high school needed bandwidth — and a lot of it. HCTC signed on to help, providing a fast and dependable fiber connection. HCTC also partnered with cybersecurity and networking students.

“At HCTC, many times, our fiber services are not the final solution to a customer’s needs but simply a conduit to solve even bigger ones,” HCTC’s Cook says. “Our commitment to this program will include consulting and advising on career mapping, interviewing skills and even on-the-job training when available. HCTC actively remains an integral part of the strategic development of the school system, and we feel it is our biggest success story to date.”