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ECCA to host Lt. Gov. Cagle, statewide summit
Cagle Casey new
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle

The Effingham County School System was one of the first in Georgia to receive funds for its own career academy, and it continues to serve as a model for others in the state.

The Effingham College and Career Academy will host education and business leaders from around the state on Thursday at the third annual Lt. Governor’s Business and Education Summit.

“Hosting the summit is a great opportunity to showcase our school system and our wonderful community,” said Effingham County Schools Superintendent Randy Shearouse.

Rome hosted the summit in each of its first two years, and Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle opted to bring it to ECCA this year.

“It just speaks volumes for us,” said Effingham College and Career Academy CEO Barbara Prosser. “He (Cagle) understands the dynamics of our entire area, for our students to have job opportunities and the Academy to provide the skills and the education they need to go for those job opportunities.”

Cagle will be the keynote speaker for a noon luncheon Thursday. The program includes the announcement of the College and Career Academy of the Year and the Business Partner of the Year.

Cagle will participate in a panel discussion at 1:30 on the “challenges and educational needs of a 21st-century work force.” He will be joined by Randy Jackson, the director of human resources and administration for Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, and Jennifer Giffen, the vice president of human resources for Gulfstream Aerospace.

That will be one of several seminars and programs throughout the day. Other topics will include “connecting with students and their potential employers” and “preparations for what is needed by today’s employers to be successful.”

“As educators, we’re trying to be smarter about what we’re offering — that we complement our economic growth and not just support it,” Prosser said.

Also at the summit, ECCA will receive its designation as a Ford Next Generation Learning Community, a collaboration with Ford Motor Company to develop innovative learning methods in the school system. More than 40 local leaders developed a five-year CTAE (career, technical and agricultural education) plan for Effingham County schools.

The Next Generation Learning Community is one of the many partnerships the Effingham College and Career Academy has developed. In fact, Prosser said, the collaboration between Effingham’s education and business communities was a catalyst for ECCA to open four years ago.

Shearouse, Effingham Industrial Development Authority CEO John Henry and Effingham County Commission Chairman Wendall Kessler will take part in a panel discussion at 11:15 on “the role of effective community partners.”

“We are very, very fortunate in Effingham County to have the depth and breadth of collaboration that goes on here,” Prosser said. “In my opinion, we are an example of it all working together. I’m very proud of what we’re doing here, and I feel very blessed to be a part of it.”

Thursday’s programs will conclude with Prosser and Liberty College and Career Academy CEO Tom Alexander presenting a “continued plan for success” at 4:15. LCCA is hosting the second day of the summit Friday.

ECCA students are dual-enrolled at the academy and one of the county’s two high schools. ECCA has an enrollment of 638 students, with the most popular programs being health care (203 students), culinary arts (108) and logistics (80).

“Our school board understands the importance of preparing our students for the future, and our programs at Effingham College and Career Academy are designed to do just that,” Shearouse said.

“I hear folks say, ‘A charter school won’t work in the public (school) system,’” Prosser said, “and I tell them, ‘You need to come to Effingham County.’ We are a charter public school, and we work very well in the system — and the system works well for us.

“So you can have the best of both worlds,” she continued. “You just have to work together to make it happen.”