Many people, businesses and organizations were honored during the Certified Literate Community ceremony.
* Key community partners recognized included: the United Way; American Proteins and the Tommy Bagwell family; Automation Direct; Sawnee EMC; Norman’s Landing restaurant and owner Bill Norman; the Forsyth County News; Tam’s Backstage restaurant; BB&T bank; Community Business Bank; the county’s Rotary clubs; the Forsyth County library system; Forsyth County Schools; and Everett Bennett.
* Distinguished Service Awards were given to: Elaine Glenn, lead GED instructor; Brenda Thomas, associate vice president of Adult Education at Lanier Tech; Joanne Tolleson, vice president of institutional effectiveness and operations at Lanier Tech’s Forsyth campus; Linda Lang, board member; and Kathy Jolly, vice chairwoman.
— Crystal Ledford
A milestone in community education was celebrated Wednesday at Lanier Technical College’s Forsyth campus.
Literacy Forsyth, a nonprofit organization that works to improve adult education through various offerings, celebrated its achievement as Georgia’s 29th county to receive the distinction of Certified Literate Community.
Literacy Forsyth works with Lanier Technical College’s Adult Education Center to provide educational support to adults, including tutoring, GED preparation classes, English classes for non-native speakers, scholarships and materials.
Program leaders received a resolution from the board of the Technical College System of Georgia earlier this month, but Wednesday’s event was a local celebration of the achievement, which means specific educational goals have been met.
Literacy Forsyth was established in 2005. Billie Izard, executive director of the state’s Certified Literate Community Program, said leaders set a goal then of reaching 7,256 adults through educational programs within a 10-year period.
In just five years, however, the program has served 7,341 students, she said.
Izard called Literacy Forsyth a “role model” for other Certified Literate programs throughout the state.
“You’re leading the way for others,” she said. “You do well to remove the barriers that stand between adults and their education ... you provide one-on-one tutoring or mentoring and reassurances so [students] can feel safe to come back to class.”
Brenda Thomas, associate vice president of Adult Education at Lanier Tech, complimented lead GED instructor Elaine Glenn, her staff and Literacy Forsyth volunteer tutors for their hard work.
“Last year alone,” she said, “[Adult Education Center staff and volunteers] provided 13,800 hours of instruction and tutoring.”
She went on to say that between GED preparation and English language classes, an average of 1,200 students each year are served in Forsyth.
“It takes a lot of courage for an adult to go back to a place and admit they need some work,” Thomas said. “I cannot think of a place that’s more welcoming, more inviting than what these staff provide.”
Randall Toussaint, vice president of economic development of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said the impact of Literacy Forsyth can be felt throughout the community.
“This [recognition] is proof that we have a skilled work force in Forsyth County,” he said, noting the community competes for businesses on a global one basis.
“Education plays a pivotal role in attracting companies to our county ... this [recognition] sends a signal and a message that we’re ready to work.”
Lorraine Stewart, Literacy Forsyth executive director, thanked several “key partners” in the community and presented five “distinguished service” awards.
Vice chairwoman Kathy Jolly recognized Norman Baggs, general manager of the Forsyth County News, who was a founding board member of Literacy Forsyth.
Jolly said Baggs “was an anchor” in the early days of the program.
“Throughout it all, I give credit to Norman,” she said. “Through the difficult times, when we’d be sitting around perplexed, there would always be Norman to figure things out.”
When Literacy Forsyth was getting started, Baggs said, it didn’t really matter whether the program met its specific goals.
“Because in the process, we were going to be changing people’s lives,” he said. “I think for those 7,000-plus people, this [achievement] means more to them than it does to us. We’ve changed their lives.”