FORSYTH COUNTY -- The woman leading the charge for advancing the workforce development program within the Forsyth County school system recently received top state honors.
Valery Lowe, director of College and Career Development for the district, was named Administrator of the Year by the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education — a first for the school system in a district where many firsts have already been accomplished.
“It was based on the advancement we provided in our CTAE (career, technical, agricultural and engineering) opportunities for students. They look at the overall system-level leadership and … initiatives we’re working on,” Lowe said.
According to the GACTE website, the award recognizes an “individual career and technical educator not eligible for the GACTE teacher of the year award.”
She was chosen based on an application, supporting information that proved her accomplishments and two letters of support.
Lowe said she has focused her recent work for the school system on the “Workforce Forsyth district-wide initiative” and “certainly the work of the Alliance Academy is the background for what we feel like we’ve accomplished this year.”
The academy, scheduled to open in the fall of 2018, will be the district’s sixth brick-and-mortar public high school and will focus on technical training and workforce development for high-wage, high-demand, high-growth industry jobs.
“A year ago, this school was only a concept. In 12 very short months, Valery has established partnerships with our local post-secondary partners, numerous businesses, as well as county, city and state leaders to make this concept a reality,” Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden said in his letter of support.
Lowe, a graduate of the University of Georgia’s College of Education program in workforce development, has spent the last 10 years in Forsyth County working in community relations and workforce planning.
“My primary duties are CTAE director and liaison to all things workforce. I have also served as an adjunct instruction at Lanier Technical College for 13 years,” she said in her letter of introduction submitted for the award. “I feel my experience and background give me a unique perspective for the employment pipeline in Forsyth, so my time is spent working with area business/industry and the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce in recruiting and developing business in Forsyth.
“As anyone in education understands, there is no greater feeling than to be making an impact around lifelong learning and finding passion for a chosen career.”
She credited the hard work of the teachers she supports in the program’s success.
“I spend a lot of time developing business partnerships and relationships to bring into the classroom for job shadowing and internships, and it’s a great recognition for our teachers. They work so very hard in making sure these opportunities are relevant and are partnered and anchored with our business community.”