By MARY RAINWATER
Nationally recognized education innovator and Palestine native Lucinda Presley was the guest speaker Tuesday at the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Luncheon.
During her presentation, Presley provided an update on the importance of integrating innovation thinking with K-16 education, what is being done nationally to address it and how Palestine fits in the picture.
“Education is an investment in national growth,” she said. “In a 2008 report, about 85 percent of business leaders questioned reported having trouble finding innovation-thinking applicants and a Newsweek report stated that the focus on visual thinking is diminishing.
“We need to integrate arts and sciences at a deeper level,” she said, “and to develop those skills that employers are looking for including problem-solving, persistence and teamwork.”
Presley and others are working on a solution, she said, hoping to move from the standard STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) format to STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, art and math).
“We are going to do pilot programs, and are working with the Smithsonian, universities, museums and more to identify where we are heading,” she said. “We want to develop the skills to help focus students and to affect national and state policy.”
Palestine has the opportunity to be a leader in the initiative, she said, calling it the perfect “test bed” for a program that integrates the arts and sciences in education.
“Through partnerships and test sites you can involve businesses in the program, integrating the creative thinking needed for future successes,” Presley said. “You have to determine what skills you need and integrate business with big thinking.
“This is a huge opportunity that is right now.”
Presley encouraged attendees to begin talking to legislators about the need to think “cross-curricularly.”
“It has to come from the public, from the voters,” she said. “We have got to let them know how important this is.”
Also during the luncheon, the Chamber presented its Business of the Quarter award to Charles E. Dickens Fine Jewelry and Gifts and the Ambassador of the Quarter award to Davi Ingram.
Charles E. Dickens Fine Jewelry and Gifts, owned by Charles and Linda Dickens, was opened 28 years ago in 1984.
Over the years they have taken advantage of every opportunity to advance their skill level and remain on the cutting edge of new technology — taking pride in the fact that their work is done in house.
Through the years, Dickens Jewelry has increased their inventory and expanded the services they offer.
Almost 10 years ago, Linda Dickens became a Certified Wedding Planner.
They offer everything from China and casual dinnerware, crystal, tableware, watch and jewelry repair, appraisals, custom jewelry design and manufacture and engraving.
As an added bonus to the community and their customers, they take great pride in their windows being beautifully decorated for every holiday and occasion.
Davi Killion Ingram, daughter of David and Carla Killion, was born in Palestine and graduated from Palestine High School in 2001.
She attended Texas A&M University where she received her Bachelors of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She taught middle school English and coached cheerleading for six years in Lake Jackson, Plano, and Austin.
She finished her masters degree from Lamar University in Educational Administration in 2009. That same year, she married Jonathan Ingram, also from Palestine. They are expecting their first child in March.
Davi owns Perfect Plans, a gift store and event planning business, and works at Killion’s Collision as the office manager. She also runs the Hertz office, a rental car service, recently added inside Killion’s Collision.
In addition to being an ambassador for the Chamber, she is a member of the Palestine Junior Service League, Newcomer’s Club and Palestine Young Professionals Network.