On March 8th and 9th, #Pathways2Possibilities hosted the 2023 West Tennessee 8th Grade Career Expo in Ripley. This two-day interactive career expo brought in approximately 3,200 eighth graders from ten West Tennessee counties including Lauderdale, Tipton, Haywood, Shelby, Fayette, Dyer, Obion, Gibson, Crockett, and Hardeman. 

Approximately 90 exhibits were present from local, regional, and national companies and postsecondary learning institutions. Local exhibitors include Komatsu, American Greetings, Marvin Windows, Pierce Distribution, UT Martin Ripley Campus, Lauderdale County UT Extension Office, Lauderdale County Health Department, American Job Center, TCAT Northwest, Bank of Ripley, Fort Pillow State Park, West TN Correctional Facility, Ripley Fire Department, Lauderdale County Chamber of Commerce,  and Ripley Power & Light. 

Pathways 2 Possibilities (P2P) emphasizes the importance of early exposure and exploration of future careers and industries. To influence and prepare the rising workforce, organizations such as P2P, are hosting regional expos to provide students with opportunities to explore and learn about the variety of careers and industries that exist beyond high school. The goal is that these early investments in students will generate a knowledgeable and driven workforce that is prepared to meet the growing demands of technology-based, specialized fields.

With Blue Oval City being built in Haywood County, local industry leaders hope that students decide to stay, grow, and give back locally in West Tennessee. Lauderdale County Schools is pleased to offer a robust College and Career Technical Education (CCTE) program, offering industry certification programs as well as opportunities for college course credit. “Our district is committed to students having a postsecondary plan that is economically viable for themselves and our community. Early exposure to events such as the P2P Career Expo helps to guide students as they begin to think about their college and career aspirations”, said LaTonya Jackson, LCS Director of Secondary and Career-Technical Education. “This is an exciting event and I am so proud of our community leaders and volunteers for making this a reality for our students.  We can’t underscore the importance of exposing our children to all of the many career fields available to them.” said Shawn Kimble, Lauderdale County Superintendent.  This is the third year for Lauderdale County to host the career expo and plans are in motion for next year’s event.