Teachers become the students to help fill the workforce in a few years


It was a day outside of the classroom for several Columbia County educators Thursday, but that doesn’t mean learning did not take place.  Administrators and teachers took a bus tour with the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce to get a first hand look at how to prepare students for Career, Technology, Agricultural and Engineering fields along with STEM related jobs. 

The Chamber President & CEO Tammy Shepherd described it best.  She said companies want to be part of the solution to their workforce needs.  That’s why they opened their doors to several Columbia County educators who will in turn work to ensure local talent graduating from local schools stay home. 

Grovetown High School science teacher Jannette Thomas loaded a school bus along with dozens of Columbia County educators to take her teaching to the next level, a level that will hopefully send her pupils into CTAE and STEM related fields in the CSRA. 

“It’s crazy to think that we are pulling from outside of our community when we have the best right here,” she said.  “We have phenomenal businesses right here between Richmond County and Columbia County. And to fill those positions with our kids that we’re teaching and seeing everyday would be the best thing that we can do to give back to our communities.”

In order to give back, Thomas and others had to take a day off from school on a Stop and Go bus tour.  NewsChannel 6 caught up with the group at the Georgia Cyber Center where teachers heard a lesson on Cyber Security.  

“Using and seeing these examples that they are learning today makes them better teachers and administrators by being able to carry that to their students to use those real life examples,” Shepherd said before heading into the Cyber Center. 

The bus tour left the Cyber Center and headed for Unisys where educators continued their cyber quest.  The next stop was University Hospital for a lesson on healthcare. But Thomas said she even picked up some soft skills to teach. 

“Honestly, it was hilarious to hear some of the local employers talk about problems with cell phones in the workforce,” she recalled.  “It’s like we tell our kids that.  That’s really kind of interesting.” 

While the tour also included manufacturing, energy and professional services, Thomas, who teaches several science classes, said she picked up from employers that workers also need help with reading, problem solving and thinking on their feet.

Columbia County Superintendent Sandra Carraway added, “Historically, students listen to their parents and they go into the kind of work that their parents do, but we’re in a society now that in the next ten years the kinds of jobs that their parents are doing won’t even exist.”

Principals from each school went, the teacher of the year and administrators. 

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