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Getting down to business
babara prosser
Barbara Prosser, newly named CEO of the Effingham Career Academy, jots down thoughts about what students need to become successful employees at the ECA business forum. - photo by Photo by Calli Arnold

Business, education and community leaders throughout the county joined forces at Effingham Career Academy Tuesday morning to discuss how to prepare Effingham students for the 21st Century workforce.

ECA was awarded a $10,000 grant to support efforts to become a Next Generation Learning Community. Next Generation Learning is part of the Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies (PAS). Two other grants were awarded to Floyd and Newton counties.

“The Ford Motor Company fund has been working in education for quite a long time,” said Hans Meeder, a facilitator of the forum. “This particular project is called Next Generation Learning, and what it is, it’s an effort to bring a community coalition together to focus on planning what education should look like, particularly for preparing 21st Century learners –– students that have the mix of knowledge and skills that are going to help them be really successful in the modern economy.”

Tuesday’s forum was meant develop skills and attributes that define today’s skilled workers and the skills pinpointed will be used to guide and evaluate curriculum at the Career Academy.

“So we really focus on things like teamwork, innovation, different types of communication skills,” said Meeder. “So (going) beyond the very narrow, core academic skills –– really on top of that. This is an effort to get these community leaders to really define what are the attributes and the skill they’re looking for from successful graduates of Effingham County schools.”

This is the very beginning of the process. If Effingham schools decide to launch a plan for becoming a Next Generation Learning Community, the process would take approximately two years to fully integrate into the school system and the community.

Many objectives discussed involved improving partnerships between business, industry and post-secondary institutions with the school system.

“Well the plan is ongoing and we’re really excited about it,” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse. “We see this as a way to really teach our students what they’re going to need to know to be successful in life. I think we’re on the right track, and the Career Academy lends itself very well to this endeavor.”