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. Citizens Bank of Americus was the presenting sponsor of the second annual event.
Dr. Neal Weaver, President of Georgia Southwestern State University; Dr. John Watford, President of South Georgia Technical College; Dr. Torrance 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.
Mrs. Krystal Heath, Chair of the Education Division of the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, introduced the members of the distinguished panel and the moderator. Don Porter of Georgia Power 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.
George Wall, a senior at Southland Academy provided the invocation and led the group in the pledge of allegiance. Rick Whaley, President of Citizens Bank of Americus and the presenting sponsor for the event, shared that “education is the great equalizer. Education opens a whole world of opportunity and as community leaders, we need to support education in Sumter County for the wellbeing of our community.”
Krystal Heath echoed Rick Whaley’s comments. “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 Mrs. Health. “For a community our size, we have much to offer to families and businesses in this area.”
Don Porter, 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.
South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford thanked everyone for coming to the South Georgia Technical College campus and thanked the community members for their support of South Georgia Technical College as well as the other educational entities in Sumter County.
“Education is an integral part of who we are as individuals but, moreover, who we are as a community, a nation, and as a species on this planet. 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.”
In closing out the event, Rhett Simmons thanked the distinguished group and said, “we are so fortunate to have these individuals 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.”