TCSG and GNTC bring mobile welding lab to Floyd County Prison 

Since the middle of June, a dozen Floyd County Prison (FCP) offenders have been working in the Technical College System of Georgia’s (TCSG) mobile welding lab every other day to obtain welding certifications, which they will be able to use for employment once they leave the facility.  

“After the first week of September, these students will be fully certified in shield metal arc and flux core welding,” said TCSG welding instructor Scott Edison. “Once released, these guys will be able to start work as welders immediately.” 

To the students, the training is invaluable since many do not have any education past a GED® diploma or high school diploma, said Christopher Brookins, an offender and student of the class. Brookins will be released in October and is looking forward to taking his welding certifications with him.  

“Some of us have never had a job,” he said. “Now we can make something of ourselves once we leave.” 

The prison has two groups of offenders who meet every other morning or afternoon to practice their welding techniques in the TCSG mobile welding lab located on prison grounds. The mobile lab comes outfitted with all of the equipment found in a technical college welding lab.  

Edison said that this is his sixth class held at a correctional facility and can recall many success stories from the offenders he trained in the program. Many did not have any experience working with their hands and had no clue how to use a welding iron, but they picked it up quickly.  

“We encourage them not to waste this opportunity,” Edison said. “They end up not only enjoying it, but building a future for themselves that includes a well-paying job.” 

According to the Georgia Department of Labor, the average hourly pay for welders in Northwest Georgia is $17.45 as of 2019. The industry is also seeing growth coupled with a wave of retirements, according to Edison. The American Welding Society estimates half a million welding jobs will be available nationwide by 2022. 

“As this urgent need for welders continues to grow, we at GNTC Economic Development view this training program as a small but impactful way to combat the demand,” said Kim Crowe, Georgia Northwestern Technical College Director of Economic Development. “We wanted to offer this training to individuals who are ready to re-enter the workforce equipped with industry-recognized certifications.” 

“This is going to keep us from coming back into the system,” said offender and student Sarin Kon. “I’m learning a lot about myself through this and I find myself wanting to succeed in this training.” 

Kon described how the course also teaches soft skills, including scheduling, prioritizing, self-motivation, and good habits. Kon said going through this course is making him a better person. He and Brookins both said that between classes and their detail work, a group of students will get together to practice their new skills in the metal shop. Read more here.

SkillsUSA Georgia Postsecondary recognized as Gold Level Achiever by SkillsUSA Nationals

SkillsUSA’s State Standards of Excellence Program experienced growth in its fourth year as 35 states completed the process and received recognition. The purpose of the program is to ensure state associations have policies, procedures, and structure  in place on an annual basis that deliver a high level of service to membership. This program is not competitive between states, but serves as a system to allow states to benchmark their performance and determine improvements to become the very best organization for their members. State associations are recognized for achieving State Standards of Excellence. For the second year in a row, SkillsUSA Georgia Postsecondary is recognized at the highest level of achievement as a Gold Level State Standard of Excellence. 

TCSG Foundation names new board members 

The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Foundation recently welcomed Mark Ginn of Grantsville and Cosby Johnson of Atlanta to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.  

A technical college alumnus, Mark Ginn has a long and distinguished career in aviation. Ginn is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensed technician and is the Director of Quality and Accountable Manager for Wencor, an aerospace part approval holder and product distributor located in Peachtree City. Ginn joined Wencor in 2015 after a 32-year career with Delta Air Lines as the Chief Inspector and General Manager of Quality for Technical Operations. Ginn graduated from Atlanta Technical College in 1981 with a degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology. 

Cosby Johnson is Vice President of Government Affairs for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. In this role, Johnson directs state level lobbying on behalf of the Georgia Chamber in the issue areas of environment and energy, education, and business and industry. Prior to this, Johnson was Public Affairs Director for Secretary of State Brian Kemp and a staff member for U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss. After graduating from Valdosta State University with a degree in political science, Johnson spent time in Cleveland, Ohio where he was Youth Director for Bethany Christian Church. While in Cleveland, Johnson developed programming for latchkey children at the East End Neighborhood House. 

“We are very excited for Mark and Cosby to join the Foundation Board as we continue our efforts to support TCSG’s students,” said TCSG Commissioner, Greg Dozier. “Both will bring a unique set of skills and experiences to the Foundation and I look forward to working with them to support our 22 technical colleges around the state.” 

TCSG recognized as the only Purple Heart system in the nation 

All 22 colleges of The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) were recently recognized as Purple Heart Technical Colleges by The Department of Georgia, Military Order of the Purple Heart (GAMOPH) making TCSG the only technical college system in the nation recognized as a Purple Heart System. TCSG earned this distinction by GAMOPH because of the emphasis and support that each technical college in the system provides their military-affiliated students. 

“The 22 colleges of TCSG have a long-standing history of supporting Georgia’s active military, veterans, and their families through technical education and training,” said TCSG Commissioner, Greg Dozier. “Being named the only Purple Heart Technical College System in the nation is a tremendous honor and reflects our unwavering commitment to our military men and women who put their life on the line every day to defend our freedom.” Read more here.
“Success Partners” is a new video testimonial campaign from Albany Technical College (ATC) that utilizes local industry, commerce, and public services leaders to communicate the need for skilled graduates in the workforce. Albany Tech intends to use these videos to encourage high school students, young adults, those under-employed, and those who have seen their jobs disappear due to the pandemic, to move forward with their education. Albany Tech will highlight the many programs available at ATC and influence potential students interested in training for a career in one of the critical industries for our state. The goal is for Albany Tech to work with these local leaders, bringing our economy back stronger than ever. "Find Your Path and Achieve It" will be the tagline for this campaign, targeted to those who need to hear it. By working together using testimonials, the message will be strong, personal, and impactful. Watch a “Success Partners” testimonial here.
Athens Technical College President Andrea Daniel issued a memo last month requiring that all faculty, staff, and students wear masks inside campus buildings. “Faculty will be supplied with masks to give out to students who do not have a mask but are willing to wear one,” the memo reads. Athens Tech is expected to have more than 4,000 students enrolled for the semester at all four campuses, which also include facilities in Elberton, Greensboro, and Monroe. About 60 percent of students will attend in-person classes on campus and labs at local hospitals, while the other 40 percent will take courses online, according to Public Relations Director Antoine Boynton. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in safety protocols for attending classes at college campuses across the nation. “We’re also requiring social distancing for all faculty, staff, and students, as well as visitors,” Boynton said.
The automotive technology program at Atlanta Technical College recently entered a partnership with the Nissan Technician Training Academy program (NTTA) to train automotive technicians and encourage professional growth. These training courses will provide a pipeline for Atlanta Technical College students to be hired by Nissan. As part of the partnership, Nissan donated multiple cars and provided resources for instructors to access their virtual academy, allowing the Atlanta Technical College community to become Nissan certified technicians. The NTTA program provides factory-specific training on vehicles, an apprenticeship program offering hands-on learning, and a pipeline into an ever-growing field of automotive service and repair. “We are very happy about this partnership because of the investment Nissan is making in ATC and its students,” said Dr. Ian Toppin, Dean of Industrial and Transportation Technologies. “The career opportunities it provides for students while they are still in the program and after graduation are life-changing, creating a profound impact in the Metro Atlanta community. At Atlanta Technical College, we encourage students to pursue professional and personal development opportunities in order to become better global citizens.”
Princeton Barnes, a student at Augusta Technical College has been named a “2020 New Century Workforce Scholar” and will receive a $1,250 scholarship. This scholarship is the first of its kind to support students at associate degree-granting institutions on a national scale, as they plan to enter the workforce upon the completion of a degree or certificate. The program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. “We believe education holds an extraordinary promise to change lives,” said Helen Smith Price, President of The Coca-Cola Foundation. “We hope that providing these college scholarships to deserving students will enable them to realize their full and unique potential. Read more here.
The Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) Adult Education Division alongside event partner, Well Care Inc., recently held its Curbside Back-to-School Bash on August 28, at the Adult Education K-Building on the Macon campus. The event and its participants gave away book bags, school supplies, masks, and more to aid Bibb County students in preparation for the school year. Read more here.
Paramedics and emergency medical technicians educated at Chattahoochee Technical College are serving as essential frontline responders in the community during the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. “Each day that I go into work, I don’t know what emergencies will take place, and what types of calls I will be responding to,” said Chattahoochee Tech graduate Rose Velasco of Villa Rica, who works as an advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) for MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service. “The diversity of what we may encounter on a daily basis keeps me on my toes.” It is essential for Velasco to take extra precautions when providing medical help on the scene of an accident or emergency. “You never let your guard down,” she said. “A person who is COVID-19 positive could be asymptomatic and not know they have the virus. So as medical providers in the field, we need to be mindful about every encounter we have by wearing the proper PPE (personal protection equipment) to each 911 call we respond to.” Read more here.
On August 26, Governor Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp attended the announcement of the Regional College and Career Academy (RCCA). The event was held on the Coastal Pines Technical College (CPTC) Baxley campus, where the Regional College and Career Academy will be built. Governor Kemp Awarded 3 million dollars to allocate for the construction of the Regional College and Career Academy. The Regional College and Career Academy will be a five-county effort in the CPTC service delivery area that includes Appling County, Wayne County, Jeff Davis County, Bacon County, and Pierce County. A Community Needs Assessment was conducted by the College in each of the participating counties and from there, program offerings were chosen. Programs identified as being needed at the Regional College and Career Academy were welding and joining technology, electrical systems technology, construction, drone technology, forestry, industrial systems technology, nurse aide, and computer programming. 
The 2020 Class of Columbus Technical College's Radiologic Technology program has a lot to be proud of these days. Every student passed the rigorous American Registry of Radiologic Technology (ARRT) exam on the first try, officially making them Registered Radiologic Technologists. This cohort of 14 students overcame numerous obstacles during their year-and-a-half long journey that began in January of 2019. Some challenges this class faced included their program director retiring, their primary instructor being sidelined with serious health issues, and the COVID-19 pandemic putting a halt on face-to-face instruction and learning in a clinical environment. The program director for Radiologic Technology, Kimberly Whitaker, is so proud of this class and the determination they showed. "I'm just so thankful these students had the drive and desire to make it happen," Whitaker said. "When we had to abruptly go to online learning, we'd be meeting virtually at night, sometimes in our pajamas, doing whatever it took. They were there every step of the way."
Two months before his 67th birthday, Jim Gunter received his GED® diploma during Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) Adult Education graduation celebration at the Catoosa County Campus. The event marked a 48-year-long accomplishment for Gunter, which was made possible by the support of his family and employer. His road to graduation started in 1971 when he left home two weeks before his 18th birthday due to an abusive situation. As a result, he did not receive a high school diploma. “I always meant to go back and get it, but something always came up,” Gunter said. “It’s something that I always held over my head. In the back of my mind I would hear, you’re a failure, you couldn’t even do that." Read more here.
A $25,000 donation from Corporate Environmental Risk Management (CERM) will ease the financial burdens for two Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) students each semester over the next five years through the new Reese-Walker STEM Scholarship. Students in over 30 computer, engineering, mathematics, and science technologies programs and with at least a 3.0 GPA will be eligible to apply. An additional contribution to the GPTC Foundation will be used as general support of the college’s workforce development mission. Learn more about Corporate Environmental Risk Management here.
Gwinnett Technical College named three new members to the board of directors. Mark Abrams, Founder and President of Aspen Information Systems, Pam Garland, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer for Northside Hospital Gwinnett and Northside Hospital Duluth, and Srinivas Jalla, Deputy Director for Technical Services at Gwinnett County's Department of Water Resources, will join the Board of Directors and continue their work to advance support for Gwinnett Tech's programs, facilities, and workforce development initiatives. Read more here.
Lanier Technical College student Mandi Marks was selected along with nine other surgical technology students, from over 26,000 nationwide, to receive a scholarship from the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA). The ARC/STSA is committed to the advancement of the surgical technology and surgical assisting professions and supports the continuing education of its students and educators with its scholarship program. Student awardees are selected based upon their essays and standing in their CAAHEP-accredited surgical technology or surgical assisting programs. 
North Georgia Technical College hosted a drive-thru graduation ceremony for the Spring and Summer Semester graduates on the Clarkesville and Blairsville campuses on August 5. The weather cooperated and the faculty and staff had a wonderful time celebrating each student who walked across the stage to receive his or her diploma. Cars were decorated to the extremes, and students were extra excited to hear the "congratulations" shouted by the entire campus as they had their five minutes of stardom in the spotlight. More than 100 cars full of students and families participated in the ceremonies. Pictured is the Clarkesville faculty and staff after the first graduation ceremony. 
Amanda Stokes had a job. She was good at her job. However, her desire for change led her to Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) where she began to pursue a career in pharmacy. “I was seeking a change from an administrative office job and I knew OFTC’s pharmacy technology program would prepare me for a great career,” Stokes said. Deciding on OFTC was not a difficult decision for her. “I remember when the College was first built and what a valuable asset to our community it was,” she said. “It’s been an outstanding college since day one and stands up to an impressive academic reputation.” Stokes enrolled in classes and graduated with her diploma in 2011 and her degree in pharmacy technology in May of 2020. “To me, that says a lot,” Stokes shared. “Through several years of attending class day and night, studying and working hard, I earned both my diploma and degree.”
Ogeechee Technical College president Lori Durden was recently installed as the new president of the Rotary Club of Statesboro. Durden, who has been a member since 2011, became the second female president since the club was chartered in 1937. “It is my honor to pass the president’s pin to Lori,” said Jim Benton, former Rotary Club of Statesboro president. “Over the past year we have seen everything from normal to pandemic. This caused a big change in how we operate as a club. Lori has been right there all year serving as President Elect and is prepared and ready to take on the presidency this year with a new way of meeting and taking care of business. I look forward to serving with her to serve our community’s needs.” Durden presided over her first Rotary Club board meeting on July 27 in Ogeechee Tech’s Natural Resources Building, where Benton presented Durden with the honorary Rotary President’s Pin. Read more here.
Savannah Technical College began offering Cybersecurity degree, diploma, and certificate programs at the Ft. Stewart Army Education Center this semester with both online and in-person options. The College previously offered Cybersecurity at its Savannah and Liberty campuses. For the convenience of the active duty assigned to Ft. Stewart and to meet the growing demand, these programs are offered at the Education Center. This gives soldiers the opportunity to earn credentials while still serving, helping to advance their careers while preparing them for transition after the Army. Cybersecurity has been identified as one of the strategic priorities for the Army, and there are currently more than 11,000 cyber job openings around the state. Read more here.
South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) Instructor of the Year for 2020, Dorothea Lusane McKenzie, was recognized as one of the top nine instructors in the Technical College System of Georgia by Commissioner Greg Dozier recently. McKenzie is the Cosmetology Instructor for South Georgia Technical College. She will now compete for the state title. McKenzie and SGTC 2020 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) student David Bush were recognized along with the other 21 college Rick Perkins and GOAL winners from around the state by Commissioner Dozier during the virtual live regional announcement. The 22 top instructors and top students from across the state participated in a regional judging competition prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
We commonly hear that knowledge is key. This was ever apparent as our nation was in a pandemic shutdown. The viral events sent our brightest minds searching for answers. As the top educated individuals in the medical field researched developmental insights, one of our own, Chris Cumbee, provided answers for one national crisis⎯ the shortage of toilet paper. Chris has been teaching welding at Southeastern Technical College for nine years. While college campuses were shut down at the onset of COVID-19, Chris took vacation leave and used his talents to restore order to the scarcity of something essential. It was his skill-set of machining parts that industrial America needed to keep paper mills running. Through his part-time business, Chris dedicated himself to fulfilling orders through nights and weekends. “We never skipped a beat during COVID because everyone needed toilet paper,” said Chris. “The mills were working at 130 percent capacity to produce the most product possible. Downtime was critical to consumers everywhere. In one day, we filled 76 orders, allowing mills to supply toilet paper.”  
The Southern Crescent Technical College Foundation is excited to announce plans to host the Drive “Fore” Education Invitational Golf Tournament on October 27, at The Club at Shoal Creek in Griffin. Because of COVID-19, the Foundation elected to postpone all annual face-to-face fundraising events this calendar year. As a fun and safe alternative, the SCTC Foundation plans to offer the Drive “Fore” Education Invitational Golf Tournament to continue our tradition of bringing the community together to support and raise funds for Southern Crescent Technical College. The tournament will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a Lauderdale format. Read more here.
More than 60 students at Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) received scholarships for the fall semester. The school's foundation allows students to use the scholarship for basic school needs. But, since the pandemic, students are also allowed to use the money to assist with costs associated with virtual learning. The school’s director of institutional advancement, Jenny Dell, said many of their donors are also employees or alumni of the college. She said they are instrumental in helping fund these scholarships, as they understand the need for students to learn, even if it is virtually. “The careers that people are considering professional during the pandemic, a lot of those probably got their start at the technical college. Nurses, respiratory therapists, educators, and truck drivers to keep the supply chain moving. There’s a long list of folks that have been on the front line that are SRTC alumni, and we’re proud of that,” said Dell.
West Georgia Technical College celebrated its Spring and Summer semester graduates on August 20 with a virtual and drive-through graduation. All graduates were recognized on a video presentation released at noon, and then graduates were welcomed in a drive-through photo opportunity with President Dr. Scott Rule that evening. Faculty and staff greeted graduates with posters, noisemakers, and balloons as they walked the red carpet and had their photo taken with Dr. Rule. Sixty-six students participated in the drive-through event.
These Wiregrass Georgia Technical College graduates have the tools needed now to go to work thanks to Whitehead Industrial Hardware of Valdosta. As a recipient of the “Tradesman Award”, the students received a plaque along with a $250 credit to purchase tools for their new jobs."It's a great honor to have the opportunity to present each of these deserving individuals with the Whitehead Distinguished Tradesman Award,” shared Jonathan Miller, Whitehead Industrial Hardware Principal. “All of us here at Whitehead salute the modern tradesman and believe in the importance of recognizing the hard work and success of these students. Skilled labor is a critical component in the attraction of new industry to our region. As a community, we must advocate and support the careers of these commendable graduates." 
Meet Adult Echocardiography student Christina Bullock, GNTC's 2020 Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) winner! Christina was named a regional finalist for TCSG Student of the Year on Aug. 19.