Dozens of the state’s community, business, government and education leaders combed the campus of Lanier Technical College on Tuesday, observing the way the school implements technology in its classrooms.
Through the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s 20th Annual Bus Trip, about 80 leaders from across the state made their last stop of a four-day “rolling conference” at Lanier Tech, seeing firsthand some of the programs the school offers, including welding, emergency medical training and drafting, and how technology is used to make those courses more effective.
“The tour has been absolutely amazing,” said Lauren Eckman, a teacher at the Georgia Academy for the Blind and 2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year. “I have been blown away at every school by the innovations and use of technology in the classrooms, not just for technology’s sake, but to enhance learning and enhance student engagement.”
Since 1993, the bus trip has included stops at more than 290 schools that exemplify innovation. This year’s specific theme is using technology to continue that innovation.
The idea is that the riders will take what they learn on the trip, which has included schools in Hall and Forsyth counties, and take those best practices back to their schools.
Charisse Williams, who works with Young Audiences, Woodruff Arts Center, an organization that helps integrate the arts into school curriculums, said she hoped to gain some ideas on how to use technology to better her effort.
“I want us to be as innovative as possible and learn as much about technology as possible and I thought this tour would be a great way to see some of the best practices around the region in doing those things,” she said.
And it’s that innovation the bus tour’s organizers said will help Georgia catch up to the nation educationally.
“Innovation has always been the answer in America — it’s the answer for Georgia,” said Seven Dolinger, president of Georgia Partnership. “So if we can learn from these best practices and how these people are innovating and replicate that quickly across our state, then we can catch up to the rest.”
Monday morning, the group left Atlanta, making stops that included the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics, Loganville High School and Kelly Mill Elementary School.
Dolinger hopes the best practices at these schools make it back to the riders’ hometowns, which include Warner Robins, Valdosta and Macon. In doing so, it can create a ripple effect in not only the state’s school system, but its economy as well.
“It’s all about workforce development and our riders know — what we know — is good education is workforce development which is economic development. So this is a real important part for the future of Georgia.”
Last week, the tour made stops at World Language Academy and Gwinnett Technical College, among others.
“It enhances the public’s awareness of what’s going on in education in Georgia,” said Eckman. “I think a lot of times people get caught up in budget shortfalls, the effects of the economy and poverty and all that on students, and they miss all the amazing things that are happening in public schools in Georgia.”