One goal of the CTAE advisory team is to continue the success of fall's Reality Store at Woodland High School, during which students face the scenario of having to handle life's basic financial duties, like balancing a check register and the cost of income taxes, finding housing and paying for insurance, as well as unexpected events.
"I want to thank the community because we got a grant from the [Cartersville-Bartow County Community Foundation] to do this but we didn't get enough money, but everybody I have asked to donate just a small $75 donation has stepped up to the plate and we were able to fund the rest of this," said Brenda Cooper, who works in business development at Century Bank in Cartersville and is on the Work Based Advisory Board for Bartow.
According to the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce, "The Georgia Appalachian Center for Higher Education's Reality Store is an extension of the 'Choices' program which began in Indiana when a young single mother came to the Girls Club in tears because she could not afford to pay her rent and feed her two children properly."
Other aspects of reality students face at the store include the probability of having children, donating to nonprofits and utilizing transportation.
Cass High School counselor Ricky Silver asked if the store, which will take place at all county high schools on Feb. 9, will address the reality of facing high unemployment and the nature of a student's selected employment after taking a questionnaire on www.gacollege411.org
"The issue we're finding is our precious little freshman are looking for the jobs that have six figures ... and [some] unfortunately currently failing four or five classes of their freshman academic schedule, and so my fear is that some of the students will not know what a hospitalist is but they know it makes $260,000 a year," Silver said with humor. "... I'm afraid they might not get the full experience of the Reality Store because they're going to be given kind of an unrealistic amount, especially with an entry level job, which is especially what we're wanting to look at."
Linda Dieterman, who works in the Business Education Department at CHS, and Cooper said they want the store to be an annual event and to reflect reality, for example, having plans to incorporate student loan and tuition payments into the store. Cooper said she is continuing to seek volunteers to help with the store.
Tom Shinall, a 2002 graduate of CHS and co-founder of The Tom & Chad Show Inc., said he was involved with Distributive Education Clubs of America in high school, which offered a similar scenario for members in the form of operating a retail store.
"That played a lot into my personalization of this reality store, I took a lot from looking back at [my] experience of a student being thrown into a reality situation," Shinall said. "This is heads and tails above what I did as an experience and it's so much more comprehensive of reality, and so that's what I really like about this program."
Superintendent John Harper spoke on his plans to turn the old CHS campus into the Bartow County Learning Center -- a facility he said will provide additional instruction to home school students and eventually may provide services for non-traditional students and adult learning.
"We know that in 2012 that one-size-fits-all does not work any longer and if we were formed as a country as a melting pot, taking people from all over the world, and we're doing that now more than ever, that one size does not fit all and so what we're trying to do day-in and day-out inside our classrooms is not meeting the needs of our children," Harper said.
He said providing the additional instruction and eventually offering services like credit recovery may help students maintain educational goals while learning outside of the traditional classroom setting. For example, using web-based instruction while having access to educators for face-to-face instruction and providing specific courses that may not be popular enough to fill a county classroom.
"They're making some decisions they're going to have to deal with for the rest of their lives, which is not positive," Harper said.
Shinall is optimistic about the opening of the center.
"[The center] is going to be a blessing to this community as long as everything flows the way it should and can," Shinall said. "Just sitting back [at the CTAE advisory team meeting] and hearing the actual concept of it makes me think we are in store for something big."
Harper said the system is about a year away from the grant process to acquire $3.2 million to renovate the facility, but currently is communicating with home school parents on his plans for the center.