Nearly 150 Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) teachers spent the first week of June going “back to school” by visiting local businesses. Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers were exposed to current industry trends, day-to-day work life, best practices, and insight into an ever-evolving job market during visits to two dozen local businesses.
GCPS has nearly doubled the number of CTE teachers in the school district over the last five years in an effort to increase rigor and relevance for students preparing for college and a career after high school. As a result, students are not only challenged by classwork, they are also exposed to relevant and authentic learning experiences by real industry members.
This year’s industry visits took engineering teachers to Pond Co., WIKI Instruments, and Slingshot Production, while family and consumer science teachers visited Alon’s Bakery and Caly Road Bakery. Healthcare science teachers visited Life University and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Marketing teachers had the opportunity to learn from the president and department leaders at Luckie & Co, a local digital marketing firm known for working with national brands Carters and Little Debbie’s. Finance and business management teachers visited BB&T and EverFi, a company dedicated to partnering public education with private industry. Early childhood education teachers visited Sheltering Arms, a comprehensive family support center specializing in early childhood education and child care.
The partnership between the school district and local businesses is mutually beneficial which is reflected in the expansion of the program. Every year the number of teacher visits and businesses involved in the program has increased. Businesses recognize CTE teachers are training the workforce of the future, including some who may work for area businesses sooner rather than later. The partnership allows teachers to bring authenticity into their classrooms by utilizing business leaders as guest speakers, designing projects around real case studies, and collaborating with local businesses for career exploration.
“I feel back to industry is very useful to teachers. It allows us to see what is going on in industry and apply it to our lessons in the classroom,” explained Faith Davenport, a marketing teacher at Mill Creek High School. “I truly enjoyed my day at Luckie & Co. I feel that I have a better understanding of what a full service marketing firm does.”