State of Education event held at South Georgia Technical College
The State of Education in Sumter County was the topic of an event presented by the Education Division of the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce in the John M. Pope Center on the South Georgia Technical College campus recently.
Dr. Neal Weaver, President of Georgia Southwestern State University; Dr. John Watford, President of South Georgia Technical College; Dr. Torrence Choates, Superintendent of Sumter County Schools; Ty Kinslow, Headmaster of Southland Academy; and Dr. Elizabeth Kuipers, Principal of Furlow Charter School, were the featured speakers at the event.
Sandhya Muljibhai, Chair of the Education Division of the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, introduced the members of the distinguished panel. Dr. David Finley served as moderator for the event and Rhett Simmons, Chair of the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, recognized the sponsors and thanked everyone for attending.
South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford welcomed the individuals to the South Georgia Technical College campus. “We all begin learning the day we are born and we never stop learning until we take our last breath. Education is an integral part of who we are as human beings but, moreover, who we are as a community, a nation, and as a species on this planet. There are many purposes for education as it shapes our world, our society, and for our purposes here tonight, it shapes our economy. At South Georgia Tech, our mission is workforce training to further Georgia’s economy. We serve seven counties here in Southwest Georgia, and with our main campus right here in Sumter County, we have a strong vested interest in seeing this community thrive and that’s why we, once again, welcome you here to the South Georgia Technical College campus for this event,” said Dr. Watford.
After Dr. Watford’s welcome, Nikki Thompson, a cosmetology student at South Georgia Technical College, provided the invocation and led the pledge of allegiance. After dinner, Rhett Simmons, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce thanked each of the sponsors and then Sandhya Muljibhai, Chamber Education Chair introduced each of the panelists.
“It is exciting to be here tonight and showcase the incredible schools that we have in our community. We are very fortunate to have the option of choice – both in our K-12 programs and in our higher education institutions,” said Muljibhai. “For a community our size, we have much to offer to families and businesses moving into our area.”
Muljibhai also recognized students from Furlow, Southland Academy, Sumter County Schools, Georgia Southwestern State University and South Georgia Technical College who were in attendance. “While tonight’s event is certainly in celebration of our students and their accomplishments, the true spirit of the state of education is to “educate” the business community on the opportunities we have to engage and support our educational institutions in their programs and their priorities, as they work to build the educated and skilled workforce that we all need,” explained Muljibhai. “Tonight’s ‘State of Education’ affords us the opportunity to hear first-hand from our educational leaders.”
Dr. David Finley, moderator, explained that the focus of the event was to highlight the partnerships between the educational systems in Sumter county. The panelists were asked to comment on how the schools and institutions were working together to maximize the student experience and educational opportunities within the community as well as how they were working to address the needs of industry by building a workforce pipeline. Others questions dealt with student success, retention and graduation, and why it is important for the business community to be invested and involved in education.
Each panelist stressed the importance of education and working together to build a better community. They also touted the benefits of choices for students and how the diversity of educational opportunities enriched the community.
In closing out the event, Sandhya Muljibhai thanked the distinguished group and said, “we are so fortunate to have them at the helm of our educational efforts in Sumter County. We have great educational options and choices here for our community. This has been a very educational and encouraging event. As a community it is essential that we continue to work together to provide innovative education options for our students and to invest in our future workforce. Thank you for joining us at this event.”