The Augusta Area High School High Tech (HSHT) Program held its annual College & Career Resource Fair on November 4, 2019 at the First Baptist Church located at 3500 Walton Way Extension, Augusta, Georgia. The event was attended by 228 students and numerous school staff from 22 area high schools located in the following counties: Richmond, Columbia, Burke, Jefferson, Warren, McDuffie and Lincoln. Also participating were 32 vendors along with Vocational Rehabilitation and HSHT staff.
Several guest speakers presented information to the group. Tammy Shepherd, president of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, talked about area employment and employers as well as discussing types employment opportunities with industries / companies that are big and expanding in the Augusta area. Todd Gay, Outreach and Engagement Director, at the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, talked about the Center’s role in Cyber Security and other initiatives.
After these presentations, the students visited individually with vendors who were present to give them information about future training and employment options available to them following high school graduation. Many colleges, technical schools, private schools, employers and community partners participated in the Fair and provided resources to the students.
Students from seven high schools in Muscogee County HSHT program participated in an educational campus tour to Columbus Technical College. Students were greeted by the Columbus Technical College staff and they shared information about the admissions process. The financial aid advisor gave an overview of FAFSA and financial aid options for students such as Hope, Pell Career grant and explanations of the cost per credit hour. The Disabilities Coordinator gave an overview of the disability services provided by Columbus Technical College and instructions on how to access the different accommodations that can be provided to the students.
Muscogee HSHT students were divided into smaller groups and toured the different programs that are offered at Columbus Technical College. Students were able to have hands on experience with the welding program and ask questions of the instructors as they toured the different programs.
Students from Whitfield County High School High Tech Program toured North West Technical College. The students were given an informative and educational tour of the college and the programs offered.
Students started and ended the tour with NWTC staff question and answer sessions. Topics related to services provided by NWTC were discussed. One of the main topics discussed was “Self Advocacy” when seeking accommodations and enrollment.
Students were then invited to tour the campus and observe the various technical training courses. NWTC staff took the students to following:
Educators from NWTC also covered other programs and campus locations. Students were encouraged to explore NWTC website, register and research the numerous fields of study available.
Disability coordinators met with students and addressed questions, and provided an introduction to the school enrollment procedure, trades training provided, and the qualifications to be admitted such as graduating high school.
Worth County High School HSHT students toured the Southern Regional Technical College. Students were greeted by Mrs. Dana Lewis, Assistant High School Coordinator-Recruiter. She spoke with the students first and told them about the admission process and the benefits of dual enrollment. Ms. Lewis also spoke to them about the benefit of a technical education. She pointed out that after just 2 years they would be qualified for a job in many fields and if they wanted to get an undergraduate degree, many of the 2-year programs earn an associate degree which would transfer to a four-year school. Ms. Lewis also stated that there are programs that they could finish in 6 months and earn a certificate which would allow them to enter the work force in a short length of time.
The tour began in the upstairs portion of building A. On the 2nd floor were computer labs available to students as well as a student success center where students could receive additional help in their course work. There were also instructor’s offices located on this floor. We then went to the 3rd floor where we saw the Health Sciences program facilities. Students can earn CNA certification, LPN certification or an RN diploma. The classroom is set up like a hospital ward complete with beds and patients. Students were able to observe a robotic mannequin that could be set to exhibit different symptoms for the nursing students to diagnose and treat. Students also saw the Computer Information Systems classrooms but were unable to go inside as the classes were in session. The last stop was the cosmetology program which was not in session but students were able to observe the classrooms and labs where the students actually have clients who come in and receive a variety of hair / cosmetic services just as they would receive in a salon.
Sixteen High School High Tech Students from area High Schools in Hall County (Cherokee Bluff, Chestatee, Flowery Branch, Lanier Career Academy, and North Hall) toured Akins Ford / Chrysler / Dodge / Jeep / Ram on Wednesday November 13. Casey Horton provided the tour. Akins has over 2,500 cars/trucks in their inventory. They sell over 300 vehicles in a month and service around 300 vehicles a day.
Ms. Horton discussed numerous employment opportunities with the students from administrative, accounting, sales positions, service technicians, automotive repair, welding, retail parts, and customer service. Brad Akins (Owner) met with the students as well. He discussed the automotive industry positions as well. More specifically, he talked about what employers look for in employees – someone that is dependable, hard-working, wants to learn, enjoys people, and has a positive attitude. The students enjoyed the tour of Akins and were very impressed with Akins size and the number of employment opportunities available there.
Students from Bulloch County (Bulloch Co HS and Portal HS) HSHT program attended tours at the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office and Bulloch County Corrections Facility. At the Sheriff’s Office students learned about all the positions within the Sheriff’s Dept. Officers met the students in the court and spoke to them about their experiences from first joining the force as junior officers and how they each branched off into their chosen specialty areas. The officers shared entry level qualification, salaries, and potential for growth. The canine unit shared how they work and depend on their animals to assist them in apprehending suspects. The tour ended with an overview of the administrative and maintenance offices, with explanation of qualifications for several of the positions.
Following the Sheriff’s Office tours, students were led to the Corrections Facility. We were greeted by the Warden and several other senior staff members. Each shared their career paths, why they joined corrections, and qualifications needed as they continued to advance up the ranks in corrections. The Warden also shared what he’s looking for in new staff members. A current inmate encouraged the students to stay in school, and to make smart decisions about their futures so that they don’t find themselves in similar situations.
During both tours the students asked engaging questions that would help them determine if this would be the right career path for them to take.
Fifteen High School High Tech Students from Sims Academy toured Gwinnett Technical College. Shikura Cazeau and Lydia Holland (Gwinnett Technical College) provided the tour. The students were able to get information regarding the admissions process, financial aid, disability services, student life, and the many educational opportunities that are available at Gwinnett Tech. The students were able to see/experience automotive, construction, cosmetology, fabrication, heating and air, health sciences, vet tech, and welding. The students were very impressed with Gwinnett Technical College and the many educational opportunities that are available there.
Disability Employment Awareness Month heightens awareness while recognizing the contributions of Americans with disabilities to both our workforce and our society. Georgia RAMP sites experienced two days of learning and fun while helping our mentees gain confidence for thriving and advocating for themselves and others who are differently-abled. Mentees discussed the five senses and how the loss of one or more impacts daily living tasks. To give the mentees a glimpse of what it would be like to live without vision, they were paired with a less familiar partner, then given instructions to choose to be the leader or learner. Learners were blindfolded and told they were at the mercy of their leader. Leaders then instructed the learners to leave the comfort of the classroom to navigate stairs, brick columns, doorways, courtyard boulders and return to the classroom without accident or injury. The experiences helped students appreciate the challenges of different disabilities, realize that they are not alone, and that it’s ok to ask for help: there are people who will help. Most of all, they learned that they are more important than their abilities. Mentees vowed to focus on people first, not their abilities or disabilities.
Georgia RAMP Mentees strive to Learn, Connect, Work, and Lead missions for themselves and others regardless of abilities!
Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is one of only two submarine bases under the United States Navy. Windsor Forest High School, Jenkins High School, and Islands High School went to Kings Bay naval base to the tour the Submarine Trident Training Center. The Trident Facility is used to train basic knowledge and skills required to operate and maintain Trident nuclear submarines and to provide specialized training.
Students got to see where the naval staff practice loading a torpedo, train to fix leaks, and learn in a web lab and an engine room. Students met active duty Navy students and staff and had an opportunity to learn about life in the military, rank structure, pay, and benefits, as well as the special qualifications of a Submariner – Navy Sailor. The career exploration ended with lunch in the military cafeteria where students had an opportunity to have lunch with Navy Sailors and experience a typical meal served to active duty military and their families.
Carroll County High School High Tech (HSHT) North and South Career Ready students had the opportunity to visit West Georgia Technical College Carrollton campus and Waco campus. The presentation was very informative and helped students understand opportunities available to them during high school and post secondary education. During the students time on campus they were allowed to visit many programs of study including Cosmetology, EMS, HVAC and CNA. Students were allowed to walk around classrooms and ask the instructors questions about each program area of study and certifications. Students were greeted at the college by Zelma Jones, Accessibility Services Program Coordinator, who gave a presentation explaining dual enrollment and the admissions process. Students had the opportunity to fill out applications with the application fee being waived.
Quitman County HSHT students toured Dillard’s Department Store and Albany Technical College in Albany, Georgia
Quitman County HSHT students came to Albany for a tour of Dillard’s Department Store and Albany Technical College. Our first stop was Dillard’s Department Store. We met with Mrs. Janet Woodward the assistant manager of the store. She met with us in the training room used for new employees. Mrs. Woodward talked to the students about what Dillard looks for in a potential employee and skills that are necessary in retail. She discussed dressing appropriately for the job and fitting in with the environment.
Mrs. Woodward stressed focusing on the skills they possess during the interview and to know something about the company. She stated that in retail, math skills and good communication are very important skills to possess. In regard to post-secondary education, Mrs. Woodward stated that a degree in marketing would benefit them in moving upward in the company. After the training room. We went on a tour where we observed the dock and saw where the trucks deliver goods that are then placed on the sales floor.
Students then toured Albany Technical College where we met with Regina Watts, Disability Coordinator, for a tour of the school.
The students broke into groups to tour their areas of interest. Ms. Watts took students to the Cosmetology building to tour the facilities and observe the students in action. Ms. Watts had also arranged for the ATC cosmetology students to answer questions as well as telling our students about their experiences in the program. The cosmetology program will result in certification for hair, nails and makeup. However, only one state certification is available which is for hair stylist.
A different group had a great tour of the welding facility. They spoke to the head of the department and the assistant department manager. They explained all of the equipment and showed us student work samples both small and large. They learned about the market for welders and the flexibility of Albany Tech having both day and evening classes for welding.
After both groups came back together, we met in the mock courtroom to meet with the instructors for the law enforcement program. The instructors also pointed out to the students that if they are looking for that “college” experience, ATC has a basketball team and cheering squad. They do not have dorms at the campus but they do partner with Albany State for dorms as they are available.
The HSHT students in Pickens county will participate in Driver Permit training through a grant provided to the Georgia Committee's HSHT program by State Farm. On 9-20-2019, the first session of Driver Permit Training was held at Pickens County High School. There will be 7 one-hour weekly training sessions. Students will be transported to the Department of Driver Services to sit for the permit test at the end of the training. Nathans Driving school is providing the instruction. Three representatives from the local State Farm office attended and introduced themselves to the students and they plan to do a short presentation at the end of the training about insurance with State Farm and how safe driving impacts cost of insurance.
Nine students from the Pickens County HSHT program participated in the first session. They watched a video on Joshua’s Law and the driver education course. They were given Driver’s Permit manuals and the instructor began pointing out different rules of the road as they related to the Joshua’s Law video. Students were engaged and were able to answer questions about material covered during the training hour. All plan to return next week for session 2 of the training.
Students toured Steeda Industries in Valdosta GA. Upon arrival students were greeted by the Marketing Manager at Steeda. He explained operations at Steeda, and why they exist. He shared that he started in an entry level position 20 plus years ago and that he worked hard to climb the ladder of positions at Steeda. He explained that if you want to succeed you can’t look for instant success but should plan to work hard to reach your goals. Students were taken on a tour of the operations, where they saw every part being made to make the Mustang a super-fast vehicle. Students could assist in spray coating one of the parts, and finally a teacher rode in one of the Mustangs. Students asked questions about employment while in high school and were provided info on Steeda’s student work-study program.
Portal HS participated in a tour of the Bulloch Co Fire Dept and Statesboro EMS. Students learned about careers in both emergency response in their local area. Upon arrival at the fire dept students were introduced to the various career positions within the fire dept., which ranged from fire fighters to inspectors, to administrative personnel and the Chief of the Station. Students learned about each position, their roles, and experience, qualifications, and education required to work in each position. The staff shared info about both full and part-time positions and pay and benefits. They encouraged students to apply while in college at GSU, as several students only work the weekend shift as fire fighters and earn pay while in college, and also having the opportunity to read and study as long as the stationed isn’t called out for an emergency.
After leaving the fire station, students walked next door for a tour of the Emergency Medical Services station. Staff explained the difference in their positions, and how to start as an EMT and work your way up to a Paramedic. They shared the education and experience necessary for both positions, as well as pay. Students had an opportunity to sit in the back of an ambulance and see how EMTs operate when they have a patient. Students were also encouraged by the staff to go to the local technical school to have an opportunity to hear, firsthand, about the educational requirements to become an EMT.
Students from Quitman County High School participated in 2 tours. The first one was the Tyson plant located in Eufaula. The plant manager, Shawn Goodson met with the students. We went to the conference room where we saw a presentation about statistics for Tyson and their expectations for employees. One statistic he gave was that Tyson produces enough nuggets for 8 million kids’ meals per day.Mr. Goodson told the students how he started his career right out of High School working on the line and worked his way up. He stated that Tyson rewards someone who does their job well and is always trying to improve. We went into the plant where students observed how chicken nuggets are made. It was very clean and cold. The workers wore long white coats and all hair was covered.
Students then went to Wallace Community College. Students were greeted by Ms. Mary Wiggins, Recruiter. We toured the various administrative offices of the campus as well as academic and technical programs. We saw the Criminal Justice program, Welding, Cosmetology and HVAC. The students learned that they could receive a certificate in 6 months, certification in 1 year or an Associates degree in 2 years. We also learned that any associates degree would transfer to any 4 year college.
Screven County High School High Tech (HSHT) students celebrated their first HSHT Club day by participating in the Annual Kickoff event. The students were welcomed to the event by the HSHT Coordinator, Theodosha Foreman. During the welcome, the students were given a brief description of HSHT (purpose, focus, priorities, computer competition).
LaTasha Hawkins, Career Development Specialist from Work Source GA, spoke to the seniors directly about what they can offer them as they move towards graduation: soft skills/work skills training, work experience/paid apprenticeship, assistance with finding a job, assistance with college applications & cost (tuition, books, supplies). She provided very useful information.
Mae Bacon, VR Counselor from the Statesboro office, spoke to the students about the services the VR office can offer them during high school and after graduation. She encouraged the students to complete the application process as soon as possible. All of the information the students received was very beneficial.
A Career Fair was held on March 21, 2019 at the Whitfield County Career Academy from 9AM to11AM for High School High Tech 63 high school students from the following high schools:
Ridgeland High School - Walker County
LaFayette High School - Walker County
Southeast High School - Whitfield County
Northwest High School - Whitfield County
Coahulla High School - Whitfield County
A presentation was given by Ms. Jacqueline Brown, HR Generalist from McKee Bakery. She talked with the students about the importance of good soft skills when looking for and obtaining a job. She shared about her own experiences in 42 years of working for McKee Bakery. Information was shared about the High School High Tech program and an award was presented to Emily Phillips with Walmart as a result of Walmart’s generous donation of $1500 for the Career Fair.
Twenty different employers from the Whitfield County area had tables for the students to visit. Employers were from skilled labor trades and displayed “tools of the trade” at their tables for students to see and experience.
Twenty-nine door prizes were awarded to students who entered a drawing after having visited and talked with all employers. Students learned about job openings and about the qualifications sought by employers. They learned about how to apply for various jobs.
The Georgia High School High Tech Program is a comprehensive community-based program providing youth with disabilities a link to academic and career-development experiences that enable them to successfully meet the workforce demands of the 21st century.