Monday, October 15, 2012

Lessons Learned at Lumpkin Learning Summit

Literacy (or the lack of) is a problem in Lumpkin. That's what we learned at the Adult Learning in Lumpkin (ALL) Summit here in Dahlonega on Oct. 10.

Over 100 people - judges, county commissioners, state representatives, Lumpkin and NGCSU educational leaders and other area dignitaries - attended the half day summit presented by State Senator Steve Gooch.

One of the highlights of the event (besides a keynote address from Georgia's First Lady Sandra Deal) was a panel of leaders talking about literacy and how we (the county and state) are tackling the issue. Here's what we learned from the panelists:

Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard - Not being able to read is a problem with inmates. The jail had to video tape the reading of the Do and Don't jail handbook because so many inmates couldn't read it. The Sheriff's department strongly supports the GED program, offering GED classes for jail inmates."We have had 50 to 60 graduates from our GED program." Sheriff Jarrard sees that education is key to lowering the crime rate, and he needs volunteers for the GED program.

Dr. Bonita Jacobs, President of NGCSU - With the upcoming consolidation (NGCSU and Gainesville College), the soon-to-be University of North Georgia can create multiple paths for people to work for advanced degrees. "I long for the day," she emphasized, "when we are bringing in more businesses so that our graduates who want to stay here can."

Tricia Pridemore, Executive Director, Governor's Office of Workforce Development - "The most frequently asked question when businesses look to Georgia," said Ms. Pridemore, "is 'Can the work force do the job?'" Businesses want to know what it will take to train people for their jobs, she added. (Oh by the way, did you know that Georgia is the 33rd largest economy in the world?)
Roger Yonts, HR Director, Koyo Bearings - According to Yonts, when the large Lumpkin employer Koyo hires, they first look at the applicants' education qualifications because "Education is critical...everything our employees do is based on their being able to read." Yonts also confirmed what we already new job competition is fierce in Lumpkin. At a recent job fair, 400 applicants applied for 45 openings at the Dahlonega Koyo plant.

Dewey Moye, Lumpkin County Superintendent of SchoolsThe Lumpkin school system is committed to a 100 percent graduation rate and for students to be on level at the third grade. The school system is also pushing parental involvement, especially in the high school years. The goal, Moye stressed, is to get each parent on the high school campus at least once.

In summary, at the we learned that the more educated the community, the more appealing the community. Education is the only way we can be successful.

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