Connecting with business partners and engaging in meaningful conversation about the skills today's students – i.e., tomorrow's workforce – require for success is at the heart of our mission in the Hilliard City Schools.

The district's mission statement, "to ensure that every student is Ready for Tomorrow," is built on a foundation of personalizing the educational experiences of each student.

Our "Ready for Tomorrow" initiative, which is focused on educating the whole child, was created after considerable interaction with central Ohio business leaders. Our intentional focus on academics, mindset and interests creates a balanced educational approach for each student.

We know that a strong academic foundation, grounded in requisite skills, is needed for success.

Yes, we must expect a strong, skilled approach to teaching the basics. We must maintain excellence and focus in our academic preparation. We also must embrace the need to cultivate those soft skills, or mindset skills, that employers require of today's workforce.

We must measure and teach skills, such as grit, perseverance, agility, problem solving, hope and empathy. Students must embrace teamwork, diversity and belonging. We also must provide opportunities for students to explore and experience a multitude of interests.

The most recent biennial budget approved by the Ohio General Assembly mandated that every public school district create and maintain an active business advisory council. Each business advisory council must meet quarterly and submit reports to the Ohio Department of Education.

The intention of this legislation is to foster partnerships between the business community and our schools.

At the end of the day, when our students graduate from our public high schools, we are preparing students for the workforce.

To learn more about such partnerships, I invite our residents to attend the annual State of the Schools event on Thursday, Oct. 26, at the Makoy Center.

This year, in the spirit of business engagement, we are partnering with the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce for this special evening. The event is sponsored by Credit Union of Ohio, Elford and Fanning/Howey Associates.

"The chamber is focused on working with our schools to develop a talented workforce," said Libby Gierach, president and CEO of the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce. "We believe in the district's mission of preparing students to be 'Ready for Tomorrow' as we know this will have a profound impact on our regional economic health."

We must continue to seek opportunities for open dialogue among schools, parents and the business community. This is one example of how we can work together and clearly communicate with our constituents.

Each of us want our children to have the opportunity to live the American Dream. We want our own children to earn success and have the brightest possible future.

It's a challenge for many of us – the future doesn't have a road map. Many of today's students will have the opportunity to blaze their own paths. Our commitment isn't to have a blueprint for each graduate; we want each graduate to have the academic and mindset skills to create their own future.

We want parents to hear the same message we are hearing from college counselors, military recruiters and the business community. We want you to meet the members of the Hilliard Area of Chamber of Commerce and central Ohio business executives.

"Ready for Tomorrow" isn't about adults serving the students; "Ready for Tomorrow" is about serving our students. Preparing today's young people to be tomorrow's leaders might be uncomfortable for some, but change requires an open mindset.

Our "Ready for Tomorrow" commitment, fueled by our engagement with the business community, requires us to explore a different paradigm for education.

District leaders embrace what it will take to prepare each student for future success, and we accept the challenge to prepare students academically and with the skills today's workforce demands for success.

It's not a blueprint for success; it's a mindset for success.

It can't be about any single area of focus; it embraces the complexity of personalizing the learning experience, support and inspiration for more than 16,000 young people.

I'm eager to share a more detailed presentation with you at our State of the Schools event and am proud to partner with business leaders from central Ohio as we engage in the process of educating students to be ready for tomorrow.

Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection guest column for the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.