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Lambert plays host to regional work force development meeting

SOUTH FORSYTH — A local high school recently played host to community and business representatives during a statewide educational initiative.

Lambert High School welcomed about 180 people through its doors for a Partners Educating Georgia’s Workforce regional meeting through the Georgia Department of Education.

The meeting Tuesday was one of 12 scheduled to take place throughout the state this fall as a chance for business and community partners to learn more about Career, Technical and Agricultural Education in Georgia and to develop new partnerships with local school systems.

Valery Lowe, director of workforce development for Forsyth County Schools, said groups attended workshops and toured Lambert labs to learn how the local community connects in the classrooms.

“It was a good cross-section of educators, business and industry,” Lowe said. “The [Cumming-Forsyth County] Chamber of Commerce held their board meeting there, so they got to be involved. The culinary arts program at Lambert participated by providing lunch and breakfast.”

Lowe, who led the Region 2 initiative with Rhonda Samples, her counterpart in Hall County Schools, said students presented success stories as a way to promote CTAE in high schools.

Lowe is helping lead the effort in Forsyth County to bring a chartered college and career academy to the public school system, which is aimed to open in 2018 for up to 1,000 high school students.

According to the state, a similar meeting was or will be held in each of Georgia’s 12 Economic Development Regions. Each will provide an avenue for the local education community and business and industry leaders to discuss and explore opportunities to partner and will provide information for stakeholders about the current resources and tools available.

Meetings also highlight strong CTAE programs and business partnerships in Georgia schools. They feature optional tours of businesses and labs and a screening of a new Georgia CTAE career pathway video, which opens with Gov. Nathan Deal and State School Superintendent Richard Woods sharing their thoughts on its importance to economic development.

Other state education initiatives aimed at increasing collaboration between the education and business communities include a new Superintendent’s Business and Industry Advisory Council, the creation of an Economic Development Specialist position and collaborative work with the Technical College System of Georgia, the University System of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Labor and the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“Educators alone cannot prepare Georgia’s future workforce; forming strong partnerships with business and industry is a must,” said Barbara Wall, state CTAE director. “Strong partnerships are built on relationships based on trust and communication, and we are working to develop these relationships every day.”