Last week more than 40 administrators and teachers with the Thomaston-Upson County School System spent the day touring local industries in hopes of gaining a better handle on what the companies are looking for in employees.
Dr. Larry Derico, Director of Curriculum for the school system, stated that the goal of the field trip was to better inform teachers of what opportunities there are in our community and how they can help students who are interested in a career in the industrial field, especially since there is such a high demand for technical jobs.
“We, as educators, want to motivate students to not only be better at school, but also better citizens in the community. Many do not know what goes on in their own backyard,” said Derico. “So, we figured the best place to start was to educate the teachers, counselors and those who work closest with the students so they can in turn educate them.”
The field trip was available to counselors and graduation coaches at the middle school and the high school, as well as teachers in the career tech classes and the Ninth Grade Academy. The outing was funded by the High School Graduation Initiative grant that the school system received two years ago, totaling $3.9 million in funding over a five-year period. The same grant was used to fund the Learning Academy and the Ninth Grade Academy for the school system.
Among the industries toured were Quad Graphics, Keadle Lumber, Chief Manufacturing, Clear Water Paper, Criterion Technology, and Tencate Protective Fabrics.
Rhonda Ward, Behavior Interventionist for the school system, said the day was very informative for her, because while she knew about the various industries in town, she did not know exactly what it is they do.
“I think this will really help us be able to relate the types of skills needed for these careers to the students,” said Ward. “Seeing it firsthand has helped me to see how we can show them how the material they learn in class is used in everyday life.”
Upson-Lee Middle School Graduation Coach Jim Ramey also feels that spending the day on the tour was very informative.
“With my position being a graduation coach, my job is to offer realistic opportunities to each of the students at the school. I am new to the area, so touring the local industries has given me a better understanding of what is out there for the students and in turn, what skills they need to possess.”
Upson-Lee High School Principal Tracy Caldwell couldn’t have been more pleased with how the day went and is looking forward to seeing the results and sharing what he learned with the students in the upcoming school year. Derico agreed, stating that he also found out about a lot of things that he had no idea were going on in the community.
He continued, stating he hopes that the school system will be able to continue with the tours next year and can expand it to include other teachers, such as those teaching 10th, 11th and 12th grade. Further plans also include building the program into the curriculum, so that it can continue even when the grant funding goes away.
“There is a high demand for technical jobs in not only the state, but also the country and we want to be able to better prepare our students for successful careers.”