BLAKELY — Forming relationships between businesses and schools is key for both student success and a strong local economy, speakers said at an event on Thursday.

The E2 Summit 2014 on education and the economy included more than 200 education, business and community leaders, who discussed ways to prepare students for the region’s jobs.

This is the third year Sen. John Blake, D-22, Archbald, has hosted the summit, which has seen attendance grow from only 60 people at the first event, to a large room full of people at the Fiorelli Banquet & Conference Center on Thursday.

“It’s a true regional initiative,” Mr. Blake said.

In the three years, area districts have implemented career curriculums and have started to strengthen relationships with employers. Guidance counselors, teachers, principals and superintendents from 36 schools attended Thursday’s event.

During a panel, educators and business representatives spoke about the benefits of partnerships. Alice Davis, Ph.D., executive director of the Susquehanna County Career & Technical Center, said she regularly speaks with area employers, who advise her on the region’s needs, with a goal of eliminating any skill gaps.

Education “needs to be relevant to students. They need to know why they’re learning it,” Dr. Davis said.

Representatives from the Lehigh Valley and the Wallenpaupack Area School District also advised area leaders on providing students with opportunities, including finding grant money to put workforce coordinators in high schools.

Cynthia Klenk, senior policy adviser to Mr. Blake, said each year, the summit brings people together in the best interests of students.

“They are our future,” she said. “If we’re not investing in our children, what will our future look like?”

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