Workforce Essentials visits Jacksonville for SETA Conference

SETA 2Board members and staff of Workforce Essentials recently attended the Southeastern Employment & Training Association (SETA) Spring Conference in Jacksonville, Florida.  The conference highlighted innovative and best practices associated with the delivery and administration of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  Highlighting the four-day conference was John Clement and Charlie Koon, as they presented on the “101 Jobs for the 101st” program. They engaged audience members with an on-line polling survey during the presentation; as well as communicated the mission of the Veteran focused program that helps train and connect transitioning soldiers and their spouses to meaningful employment in the middle Tennessee region.

The mission of the Southeastern Employment & Training Association is to provide professional opportunities for all workforce development partners.  We were excited to have board members from Workforce Essentials, the North Tennessee Workforce Board, and even county mayors/executives attend with us!  Their leadership and support provide me with valuable resources to establish and deliver workforce development initiatives in LWDA 8!  I am thankful for their guidance and oversight.

Photo l-r  John Alexander, Charlie Koon, Khandra Smalley, John Clement, Marla Rye, Marilyn Bristol, Kerry Pruitt, Rick Daugherty. Not pictured: Howard Bradley and Anthony Holt


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Clarksville AJC featured on Workforce GPS

46aed689-649d-4e08-95a4-5d5d814823b6Training and technical assistance is vitally important as we implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  The U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration has development a portal of resources available for state and local workforce agencies to utilize called WorkforceGPS.   (

An innovative approach to training, Workforce GPS features WIOA Wednesday which is an interactive webinar that features a specific WIOA topic. The Clarksville American Job Center (AJC) was selected to present on March 1st to a national audience!

The topic for discussion was Implementing Comprehensive, Affiliate, and Co-location Requirements Uder WIOA.


ee8486bf-af6a-47cd-8518-247768aa2147This webinar highlighted key Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provisions for operating comprehensive, affiliate, and specialized sites in the American Job Center network.  It also discussed the new co-location requirements contained in WIOA.  Presenters shared State and local experiences on the approaches and strategies they are using to overcome barriers and embrace opportunities for building integrated service delivery models to effectively serve area job seekers and employers.

The awesome team from Tennessee consisted of Natalie McLimore and John Alexander.  I had the privilege of being in their company to talk about the functional alignment of our AJC system.  I may be a little bias, but the audience feedback confirmed that our centers are models of excellence!  You can download our presentation on

Additional Moderators and Presenters included:

Charlotte Harris, Workforce Analyst, Policy Unit, Office of Workforce Investment, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Winston Tompoe, Director, Office of State Systems, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Region 3

Larry Burns, Re-employment Coordinator, Office of Unemployment, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Howard Feldstein, Director, Arlington Employment Center

If you are not a member of WorkforceGPS, please sign up today.  The resources are invaluable, and the learning opportunities are immense. 

Marla Rye, President

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First Adult Education Graduation Held for Davidson County


I’m not sure how you spent your evening this past Friday, but I must share that mine was simply incredible!  My evening was exceptional, because I was afforded the opportunity to witness the first graduating adult education class from Davidson County!  This was the first official graduation since becoming a contractor with the State.

The ceremony, entitled ‘The Best is Yet to Come’, was held at Trevecca Nazarene University located in Nashville. District Director Christina Drones and Assistant District Directors Kathryn Bonecutter and Adam Sones were on hand along with Davidson County instructors and staff.  After the official Pomp and Circumstance, fellow student Jassie Ford was encouraged by her classmates as she sang the National Anthem.  Master of Ceremonies Adam Sones welcomed the graduates, and photos of all the graduates were displayed on two large screens.  Director of Program Outreach for the TN Division of Adult Education Dee Johnson gave the commencement address before the presentation of graduates. There were a total of 45 graduates walking the line.

I had a chance to visit with the graduates before the ceremony began. The soon-to-be graduates were filled with excitement, pride, and a sense of accomplishment as their realization of receiving a diploma was about to come to fruition.  Families and loved ones filled the auditorium anxiously waiting for the ceremony to begin.  In speaking with family members, I heard stories of sacrifice and the many challenges that were overcome.  I believe the loved ones were just as excited as the actual graduates about to take the stage.  You’ve heard the quote, “It takes a village”… It truly does.  And so when these graduates finally took the stage, it sincerely affected more than just the students.  It touched the moms and dads, the husbands and wives, the sons and daughters, the instructors and staff, and myself.  Think back to your high school graduation and remember how proud you were at that time.  For most of these graduates, they were so scared to take that first step.  Our staff has helped these individuals to become excited about learning, and they truly felt cared for as a student.  They were assured that they could take on this personal accomplishment and could truly understand that “The Best is Yet to Come’!

And when I thought the evening could not get any better, we were all surprised by a marriage proposal to one of the graduates. She said YES!

Marketing Specialist Kim Robertson captured photos from the event, and I am sharing a few of those below.  Take a moment to visit our Face Book page to view all the graduates and the entire ceremony at

I encourage you to attend one of our upcoming graduations; it’s a great way to warm your soul!  I’m certainly proud of these first AE graduates, and I’m equally proud of our AE Team in District 5.

Keep up the great work of changing lives one diploma at a time!


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Governor’s Conference Celebrates Team Tennessee!


Gov. Bill Haslam and TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd, along with  state and local officials, business executives, and economic & workforce development professionals convened last week in Nashville to learn more about Team Tennessee’s innovative game plan and strategy to make Tennessee the number 1 state in the southeast in new job development.

The two-day agenda was packed with valuable information on recruitment of new industries and featured recent announcements of Stony Creek Colors and Lowes Fulfillment Center in Robertson County.  In addition to recruitment, rural development was a hot topic in which the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is investing resources to recruit new job opportunities to our rural communities.

Last, but not least, the Tennessee Department of Labor was featured as a valuable member of Team Tennessee!  Sterling van der Spuy and Deniece Thomas presented information on the services and benefits of the American Job Center (AJC) and the role of Labor in recruitment and economic development.   

It was a great two days of celebrating the success of Team Tennessee and the new jobs that have been created to put the most people ever to work in the great state of Tennessee!  The accomplishment earned the State of the Year for Economic Development by the Southern Business and Development Magazine!  It is a honor know that our work in the AJC’s played a part in this accomplishment.  Rest assured that workforce development is a vital component of economic development!


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Workforce Essentials celebrates success by challenging staff to TRY DIFFERENT, NOT HARDER!

dsc_0068Workforce Essentials held its annual staff development and training at Old Glory in Clarksville.  The event, organized to celebrate employee successes in 2015-2016, encompassed a theme to Try Different, Not Harder.  A great time was had by all, as we welcomed our new Adult Education District Staff and paraprofessionals to the event for the first time. 

The theme represented embracing change within the organization.  Karl Schoemer said it best in his book, “In the old environment, there was time to adjust. People had the chance to get comfortable, to work through their resistance to changes occurring around them.  Now, in today’s world if you aren’t adapting to change and constantly recreating yourself or your organization, you are following behind or losing your competitive advantage. He states, “Look around. There are people in your organization, in your department, maybe even in the same job, who are thriving on all this change.  If they have adjusted and you haven’t, who is at risk?  Who is vulnerable?  Who is unhappy? Embrace change and Take Charge of your happiness!

All employees were challenged to Try Different, Not Harder to improve themselves and the organization.  Guest speaker, Derek Young brought this message home in his heartfelt presentation.  The highlight of the day was recognizing and rewarding Workforce Essentials’ outstanding employees for their workforce development contributions.  I congratulate all of the nominees and the winners !

Marla W. Rye

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