By Laurie Rock, R.N., Executive Director Altus Hospice Care

    The 2012-2013 Leadership Pearland class, sponsored by the Pearland Chamber of Commerce had an in depth learning experience when they visited educational institutions in Pearland and Alvin ISD. This year’s fortunate participants include Ruben Almanza, Whitley Penn; Andrew Miller, Adult Reading Center; Kim Hocott, Pearland Independent School District; Laurie Rock, Altus Hospice; Melissa Black, Pearland Economic Development Corporation; Butch Babineaux, CDM Smith; Roy Mata, Bredero Shaw; Sherwin Sun, Keep Pearland Beautiful; and Sparkle Anderson, City of

    On Tuesday December 11, 2012 , ' The Future is in their hands' experience began at Dawson High. This alone was such an educational experience; we might have ended here.  

    The leadership group was treated to a culinary extravaganza by the students of the Culinary Arts Program. In this amazing Family and Consumer Science program, kids with this passion de cuisine flourish where they might not have elsewhere. Our group enjoyed the mouth-watering creations of a passionate group of kids wanting to express themselves through palate pleasing masterpieces. Chef Sean Dunn ignites the enthusiasm in these youth by placing emphasis on being engaged in what you are doing and thinking of the world outside of your community. He feels that he can enrich the community by sharing a life-altering experience with those who show commitment to themselves and learning. Dual credit for college is available in this program. This program has become widely popular because of its positive impact. One student recently took dual credit, and upon graduating from high school, was half way to an Associate’s degree. The student has been accepted to Conrad Hilton School of Restaurant Management at the University of Houston to complete a bachelor’s degree. 

    In 2012 this culinary team took first and second in agriculture judging sponsored by the Houston Livestock show and Rodeo. Chef Dunn has set up an amazing program where 10 very fortunate children get to go on extended field trips somewhere in the world to feel, taste, smell, and  immerse themselves in the flavor of other cultures. When they bring this experience back to Pearland, the community benefits greatly. Last year he took a group of committed culinary students to New York and this year he plans to take ten ambitious students to China. The trip will cost $3,500 and donations are very much needed. If anyone in the community would like to sponsor a student or even give donations towards scholarships, please contact Kim Hocott at Pearland ISD by phoning her at 281-485-3203, Ext.11180.

    The group then ventured on to Nolan Ryan Junior High in Alvin ISD. The entire  administrative staff greeted our group and shared the pride they have in their Alvin schools. The most interesting thing to note is that with the Alvin ISD growth has been over 27% in the last five years.  We were informed that if the district is not building a school every year,they are behind.

    The next adventure was to the innovative Turner College and Career High School. This campus will open in the fall of 2013 with principal Jennifer Morrow at the helm. This program is designed to
    give students real world internships, hands-on experience, certificates and the possibility of graduating high school with an Associate’s Degree. If students work hard and are successful in the program, they could save in the neighborhood of  $48,000 in college tuition and have a huge
    head start.

    The University of Houston Clear Lake in Pearland was our next stop.  Operating from a core philosophy of beings “community-minded and partnership oriented” , this campus seeks to
    accommodate the working student and recruit major employers that effect the community.  

    Melissa Black of the Pearland Economic Development Corporation was gracious enough to share some insight into how that organization is bringing revenue into the community. They are actively
    working to bring businesses to Pearland. The more tax dollars to work with, the greater the infrastructure and resources for Pearland citizens. Some businesses coming to the Pearland community are Kelsey Seybold (main business headquarters), Merritt Medical R&D, and a 30-bed HCA hospital, just to name a few.

    The capstone of the day was an informal dessert with the Pearland ISD school board trustees. 
    Leadership Pearland participants were able to ask questions and share ideas with the trustees. Sadly, we learned that voter participation  in influencing how our children acquire a meaningful
    education is much lower than would be expected. We attended the board meeting  for public  comments and heard the board review its current proposals and issues. The school  Board debated with thoughtful consideration and we all left enriched citizens by becoming aware of
    opportunities and concerns that face our educational community.

    The Leadership Pearland Program is an amazing opportunity to  grow as both members and leaders within our community. Please consider attending a Chamber of Commerce meeting to learn more about how you may become involved.