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Clarksville-Montgomery County Featured Companies

cmcss the defining difference

The math is impressive: Start with 600 new students (the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System’s average annual enrollment growth) in a system that serves 35,000+ students. Now add 131 net new teacher hires (the most recent year’s number). But don’t stop there because those large and growing numbers are far from the sum total of the CMCSS equation. Beyond the number of positions is the amount of passion that the system inspires and activates, not just in teachers but in aspiring teachers as well. Passion is what makes CMCSS an outstanding educator opportunity.

All kinds of rewards.

Many CMCSS teachers have come to the classroom from other professions seeking—and finding—a more meaningful path at CMCSS. To diversify its talent pipeline, CMCSS is breaking new ground with the innovative three-year Early Learning Teacher Residency at Austin Peay University. The residency streamlines the time commitment for teacher candidates while intensifying the preparation by placing residents in the classroom alongside master teachers from the very start of their training.

Mentorship for new teachers, as well as support of all kinds for all teachers, are motivators for the CMCSS teaching staff. As CMCSS science and social studies teacher Chris Dial points out, “The district gives content support, development support, great structure, but they also provide amazing health insurance, a really fantastic and competitive pay raise. It’s a fantastically secure place to work.”

Still, the most meaningful rewards for CMCSS teachers are intrinsic.  Bubba Cherry, who left a 20-year career in homebuilding to become a CMCSS structural systems and construction teacher, finds building student skills and confidence far more worthwhile than building homes.  “When you see students learn something new that they had been unsure about or scared to try, and then they start seeing the potential of what else they can make, and they start getting creative and those light bulbs start going off….It’s hard to explain how much more enjoyable it is coming to work and seeing the rewards of these kids ‘getting it.’”

For Whitney Joyner, a CMCSS middle school science technology teacher and robotics team coach, the chance to keep growing as a teacher is a critical passion-activator. “The system’s growth mindset, coupled with encouraging the staff to be creative and try new strategies, is what keeps me invigorated and inspired when working with my students each day.”

And while it may be hard to put a number on teacher passion, it’s reflected in some impressive data for CMCSS students: A 94.5% high school graduation rate, with 40% of the city’s schools ranking in the top 5% of the state in performance; the system has also topped the state in academic growth for the last four years. 

“The defining difference” is the CMCSS motto. While Cherry knows he’s making a difference with his students, having a position plus passion also adds up to a great difference for himself as well. He’s happy he made the change. “It’s so worth it.” 

For more on the journeys of new teachers and the opportunities at CMCSS, click here.

Florim USA logo

Maybe it’s a dear friend with a son who has Down Syndrome. Maybe it’s family or friends in Puerto Rico still suffering the after effects of Hurricane Maria. Maybe it’s the need for a school music lab, or funds for a field trip. There are lots of situations and needs that spark the community efforts of Florim USA, and lots of ways the company responds, involving time or money or both.

But one thing is constant—when it comes to community projects it’s the employees who call the shots at Florim. “Our community involvement is employee-driven, company-supported,” says Andy Rigby, Human Resources Manager.

A subsidiary of the Italian company Florim Group, Florim USA employs over 300 people here in Clarksville, manufacturing Milestone brand porcelain tile. The Clarksville operation is the largest single-site porcelain plant in North America and also one of the most technologically advanced. Yet for all its technology, there is one basic human skill that employees really appreciate. “I’ve found they are exceptionally good at listening here,” says Nicky Bailey, Florim’s Administrative Coordinator. Approximately a decade ago when Bailey’s good friend had a son born with Down Syndrome, Bailey asked company management for a “show of strength” at the annual Clarksville Association for Down Syndrome’s C.A.R.E.S. Walk and Expo, and today that show of strength is still going strong.

Other company efforts include annual scholarships awarded to Austin Peay students majoring in IT, marketing, engineering, and chemistry; Florim also donates between 20 and 30 truckloads of tile to Habitat for Humanity every year. And even as it is giving back to the community in time, money, and volunteers, the plant is taking away from its own carbon footprint, winning a recent Carbon Reduction Award from TVA. An upcoming upgrade includes a new kiln two to three times more fuel efficient, and as Rigby points out, their “environmental manager is fantastic and very creative. He’s always looking for ways to recycle and recapture materials.”

One tile at a time, one voice at a time, in a company where workers get their say about how to make the world better, Florim USA is crafting a superior product as well as a stronger future for all.

Google logo

Only a few years ago, Chelsea Rucker found herself and her two young daughters homeless in Nashville. Today, she has an exciting future at the Google Data Center in Clarksville. Sound too good to be true? Google it, or better yet just click here.

Imagine being a school kid with a wi-fi connection on your school bus, so you could do all your homework during rides to and from school. Sound way too futuristic for a town in Tennessee? Google “Rolling Study Halls program” in Clarksville, TN, or better yet click here for more information about the Google community initiative that’s turning bus rides into learning opportunities.

Although Google will become fully operational during the summer of 2019, it’s clear the company is already making life better for Clarksville residents not only with great jobs but also with hands-on community involvement, like the daylong digital learning experience Google gave Kenwood Middle School students that ended with students each getting their own computers to take home. (Want to see their delighted expressions? Just click here.)

“We’re always looking for ways to be a good neighbor in the community,” notes Enoch Moeller, Hardware Site Operations Manager, who points to community grants to Austin Peay already in place and ongoing support for STEM education. To that end, Google will soon be implementing an “innovation games” event in Clarksville, allowing student groups from across Tennessee to use their STEM skills in an annual design and engineering competition.

In the innovation games and other programs, students learn valuable STEM lessons through hands-on activities. By recognizing the human potential of people like Chelsea Rucker and by working with the Clarksville community to provide critical learning opportunities, Google is creating career development pathways for residents. Moeller points out, “Google is privileged to help elevate the quality of work and life in Clarksville.”

Hankook AtlasBX logo

Hankook/AtlasBX calls it the “transforming tire,” the first tire ever designed to change its fixed shape to accommodate changing road conditions. It’s a prime example of the Korea- based company’s commitment to the latest technology in leading to a future of mobility.

And while the transforming tire is not yet rolling off the lines at Hankook/AtlasBX’s Clarksville plant, what is being produced right now might be called “Transforming Workers”—employees with critical skills that lead to a future of greater career mobility. 

“This is one of the most technologically advanced tire manufacturing operations in the world,” explains Todd Walker, Hankook/AtlasBX’s Corporate Communications Specialist. “It’s not repetitive work. When you work here you don’t just pull levers. You own entire sections of the manufacturing process. Our workers gain valuable and transferable skills.” They are the kind of skills, Todd notes, that make employees “set up for success” for whatever path they choose if they ever decide to move on.

Not that Hankook/AtlasBX is expecting turnover, but rather the opposite—the facility, which opened in 2017 and employs approximately 1,000 workers, expects to add another 800 more positions by 2024. The plant is Hankook/AtlasBX’s first U.S. manufacturing facility, located here after an exhaustive search which in the end was made simple, explains Todd. “The people here made the decision easy.”

The patriotism of Clarksville residents and the presence of Fort Campbell were both a special draw for Hankook/AtlasBX, Todd points out, since the founders of the company hold a deep appreciation for Americans fighting side by side with Koreans during the Korean War. That appreciation translates in action, beginning with a Hankook/AtlasBX workforce comprised of between 25 to 30 percent veterans. The company also partners with the local DAV and with other organizations in job recruitment initiatives. Todd says, “We want to help veterans have a smooth and successful transition regardless of whether they end up at Hankook/AtlasBX or elsewhere.”

It’s impossible to predict the future, for transitioning veterans or for any other job seeker. But with the reliable support and transformational skills offered by Hankook/AtlasBX, Clarksville workers are assured greater mobility and security as they travel their own roads of life.