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Business leaders are taking on public education with Forney ISD

OC Partners

Five business leaders are the first to announce their partnership with Forney ISD (FISD) to create the latest innovative approach to education at The Opportunity Central (The OC).

This fall, The OC – a career, college and community center – will open with a variety of retail shops, service providers and eateries operating on the bottom floor of the 3-story campus. The mall-like setting will be an extension of the traditional classroom where business professionals will offer students practical experiences to gain industry knowledge, training and mentorship to be successful in their chosen program of study and insight to future careers.


“The best way to learn is through experience,” said Dr. Justin Terry, superintendent of FISD. “The OC will bring student learning and business together to provide relevant and real-world applications for students.”


The following businesses are the first to commit to this new initiative with Forney ISD with five more to be announced in the coming weeks: 


  • Eddie Deen’s featuring Mary Sue’s Nashville Chicken and BBQ. Owners: Eddie & Allison Deen

  • Forney Taqueria featuring an authentic menu of handmade tortillas, tacos, salsas and more. Owners: Virginia & Gabriel Rodarte

  • Martin’s Automotive specializing in car diagnostic and repair services. Owners: Joe & Nancy Martin

  • Pine and Ivy featuring home decor and custom light fixtures. Owners: Mark & Meg Wagner

  • White Rhino Coffee featuring craft coffee and made-from-scratch eats. Founder & CEO: Chris Parvin


The partnering businesses will work with select FISD students to build their skills and complement classroom instruction. Career programs being offered to 10th, 11th and 12th grade students at The OC include Automotive Technology, Entrepreneurship, Marketing/Sales, Hospitality/Event Planning, Design/Multimedia Arts, Culinary Arts, Digital Communications, Fashion Design, Healthcare, Education and Engineering. Partner businesses agree to open and operate their business and involve students learning different aspects of each business in exchange for a facility use fee.


Joe and Nancy Martin, owners of Martin’s Automotive, a full-service auto repair center located in Kaufman County will open a satellite location inside of The OC. “I have spent years dedicated to learning the automotive trade and have run Martin’s Automotive for the last 22 years. Sharing real experiences and passing along this knowledge to students interested in this industry is where I am willing to invest my time and money. I can’t imagine a greater impact to have on their future,” said Jo Martin.


Pine and Ivy, a retail and online home decor and custom lighting business, is opening a retail location inside The OC. “As an educator and experienced interior designer and influencer, I am thrilled to offer an environment where I can share my passion and knowledge with students and serve clients,” said Meg Wagner, owner of Pine and Ivy. 


“Our students and community are worth investing in,” said Forney ISD Board President Greg Pharris. “Creating experiences that will positively impact our students’ future is a shared philosophy that will change the world of education as we know it.”


The OC will open this fall for students and businesses will open in phases as their construction build-out is completed. The dedication and official ribbon cutting will include a series of events beginning in February 2024. For more information, visit

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The Opportunity Central (The OC) will open this Fall. The career, college and community center will operate seven days a week. In addition to community engagement activities, The OC will provide career-focused programs, college courses from Dallas College and Texas Tech University, and a variety of businesses and eateries open to the community for high school students to gain real-world experiences. The OC includes a 600-seat theater, a 6,500-seat arena space for tournaments, concerts and events, banquet space, early childhood center, and so much more. For more information, visit