On Monday, February 27, over 100 Emanuel County middle school teachers, support staff, administrators, district staff, and Project Search instructors met at the Swainsboro Middle School cafeteria to begin their day of industry tours. Prior to this day, the educators collaborated with their instructional and data coaches to prepare for the event and understand why this event is vital to their students and community. The day started with a delicious Chick-fil-A breakfast provided by Britt McDade, owner/operator of Chick-Fil-A Vidalia. After a warm welcome from Superintendent Scotty Hattaway and School to Career Coordinator Dr. Shannon Lawrence, Ken Warnock, CEO of the Swainsboro-Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce and Emanuel County Development Authority, gave an overview of the initiative and introduced Britt McDade to the educators. Equally as good as the breakfast was McDade’s words of inspiration. Mr. McDade thanked the educators for what they do every day and challenged the group to think about their “why” (not how you do things and not what you do) but “why” you do it. His message of encouragement and reflection set the tone for the day.
Following the morning’s activity, the teachers loaded school buses and began their tours to two industries/businesses per group. The industries toured were Air Star, Advanced Metal Components, America Knits, Crider Foods, Emanuel Medical Center, Faircloth Forest Products, Hotset, Stitch and Print, and Wincore. These industry and business partners provided tours and information about their companies. They discussed the skills needed for different positions. Teachers asked valuable questions that helped them to be able to return to their classrooms and share information with their students.
Following the event, here are just a few of the anonymous comments from educators when asked how they plan to utilize this experience to benefit their students. The educators said,
“I plan to try and plan a few trips for my students to see these places that tie into my class. I want them to see how this area of study (FACS) can actually make a career for them.”
“I plan to use the information gained to constantly remind the students that they are at the age where they need to be deciding on what they would like to do after graduation. I will encourage them to set goals and begin focusing on their why.”
“I would love to be able for my students to video chat and interview with a business in Emanuel County and ask how they use math every day in their careers to expose students to various industries as well as the importance of math.”
“I plan to let my students know how important it is for them to have essential soft skills. I also plan to let them know how important it is for them to have these skills to be successful in life.”
“I will discuss the opportunities that are out there and relate it to our social studies lessons over economy and trade.”
“I plan to utilize the information I've learned with students and let them know they do not have to leave Emanuel County to find a job. I will let them know that there are a variety of jobs available here that offers on-the-job training opportunities for advancement and pays a decent wage.”
This event is a continuation of Emanuel County School’s Industry Tours Initiative, an effort between Emanuel County Schools, the Swainsboro-Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce, and the Joint Development Authority. At the beginning of the school year, high school educators, followed by ninth graders, toured the industries. The objective of the Emanuel County School System is to increase and encourage workforce collaboration by increasing the frequency of interactions with workforce partners. This initiative helps students explore career options in their community and what essential skills, education, and training are needed to prepare for the workforce.