“If you look at our pilot, you will see we didn’t lose a kid in two years,” GPP President and CEO Mike Beatty said Tuesday during a meeting at the BCCCA. “We had 100 percent of our students graduate, they didn’t all graduate on time ..., but there is something dynamic about a young person who might have dropped out of school, but stays in school a half day, works a half day, and gets a paycheck, it changes their mindset. When you put a team around those young folks, you’re going to change generations of folks who are going to become producers and members of a productive society.”
He continued, “If Georgia is going to move onto that next level of greatness, then we’ve got to deal with this dropout rate, we’ve got to get our workforce trained and we’ve got to step up to the plate as a community. ... We have a five-year goal to put this initiative in every part of the state [and] we have 33 high schools we’re moving into [next year].”
Managing Director Lori Heemann Bodine said GPP works with high schools to determine which students are eligible for the program. Determining factors for participation, she said, include the requirement that a student must be on free or reduced lunch, be 16 years old and meet the legal requirements to work.
Most students will work three to four hours daily and 15 to 20 hours a week. Incentives are available for participating businesses, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.
“Work-based learning has been going on in Bartow County for a long time, but the problem we run into is where do we place these ready, capable students,” BCCCA Principal and CEO Paul Sabin said. “This particular program here really focuses on some of our at-risk students we definitely need to assist, but we have students who are wanting to get out there and ... get that experience.”
Superintendent John Harper was positive about partnering students with business and industry through the BCCCA and GPP.
“I had a vision for the school and it’s starting to play out. ... It’s very important with this academy that we do the kinds of things [business leaders] want us to do to train employees for your businesses,” Harper said. “... We need some internships for you while [students] are here so you can learn who they are and I think you’ll be very pleased with the students we have selected to come here. We have great instructors to support them, it’s a tremendous opportunity and we’re only in the infancy of what we can make possible for Bartow County, the businesses in Bartow County and primarily the students who come here every day and work to further their careers and find a job when they finish.”
For more information on how to become involved with the program, visit www.gppartnership.org. Heemann Bodine can be reached by phone, 404-694-0328, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.