Dougherty County School System Superintendent Kenneth Dyer and 4C Academy CEO Chris Hatcher were featured panelists at the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce's annual State of the Community Luncheon at Albany State University's West Campus on Wednesday.
The event allows leaders from the local business sector to hear how local educational institutions are working to address issues that are pressing for them, namely, workforce development and training.
In the panel-styled discussion, Mr. Dyer joined Mr. Hatcher and Deerfield Windsor School Headmaster Geoffrey Sudderth in sharing their vision for meeting the workforce needs of local business and industry and what efforts are currently underway to provide students with the skills necessary to enter the workforce.
Mr. Dyer pointed to the district's graduation rate, which is above the state average, it's declining drop out rate and the growing number of students who are electing to take college courses while in high school through Georgia's Dual Enrollment programs as evidence that the district is trending in the right direction. That being said, Dyer spoke of the need to build on the district's "pockets of excellence," molding it into a system of excellence that permeates across the organization and its schools.
In addressing a question on what approach 4C Academy was taking to prepare students for the various career pathways that the unique, hybrid school offers, Mr. Hatcher spoke of the partnerships and collaborations from local business that were driving the curriculum.
Hatcher said that school officials, in concert with officials from the Dougherty County School System, the Calhoun, Terrell and Baker County School Systems, Albany Technical College and Albany State University, had reached out to the chamber, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and the Industry Roundtable to learn exactly what their workforce needs were before building a curriculum and developing pathways that specifically address those needs.
In listening to these various groups, Hatcher said that they also learned of the importance of "soft skills," and have jumped right in at the beginning of the semester hammering home concepts of teamwork, workplace etiquette, good communication and more.