COVINGTON, Ga. – Twelve Newton County educators spent the second week of their summer vacation participating in Connect Newton, a program that allowed them to complete externships at three local manufacturers, getting a firsthand look at the culture of the businesses and gaining insights that can help students find good jobs locally if that’s what they are looking to do after graduation.
The educators, in groups of four, spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings experiencing jobs and learning the core values of SRG Global, Clairon Metals Corporation and Nisshinbo Auto Manufacturing. The groups presented the results of their week to their colleagues and local officials Friday afternoon at the Newton College and Career Academy.
Newton County School System Career, Technical and Agriculture Education Coordinator Dr. Tim Schmitt said the idea of the program was to give teachers an inside look at the businesses around the county so they could share they learned with students and parents. Schmitt, a veteran educator, praised the partnership that the school system has forged with local business.
“This is the first place I’ve been where I felt like we weren’t wrestling to get companies, and teachers and schools together. It was such a breath of fresh air four or five years ago when I started at Newton County to see that I wasn’t chasing people who didn’t want to talk to me,” he said.
“A lot of that has to do with the groundwork that the chamber, the economic development office, the folks sitting in this room have done before I got here. I’m eternally grateful for the partnership that you guys have been doing for years. This isn’t the first time that the school system and our local industry have gotten together and this is certainly an evolution of that.”
Grenetta Turner, a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics counselor at the Newton County College and Career Academy, participated in the program at SRG Global. She said the program was a way to build relationships.
“Being in the school system and a school counselor, I don’t have a lot of ways to get in touch with businesses and partners in the community. So this was a way for me to connect with a corporation and they can say ‘Hey, we want to see your students’ and I can say ‘Hey, my students need to see you.’ So that’s what it is for me. It’s a bridge. That’s exactly what it is,” she said.
She said the program is important for giving students and parents ideas and information about the abundance of career opportunities available in manufacturing.
“A lot of parents think manufacturing and they think about what their parents might have done or their grandparents might have done. And it’s not the same,” she said. “So, we need to unite with corporations so I can go back and tell these parents and show the students that it’s not like it used to be and that there are other jobs out there for you.”