Golden Isles College and Career Academy advanced construction class students put the finishing touches on a concrete sidewalk they constructed at school in February.

Glynn County Schools is in the midst of growing its Career Technical Agriculture Education, or CTAE, programs system-wide.

Rick Townsend, director of CTAE for Glynn County Schools, hopes to soon begin the process of writing a new strategic plan for the CTAE programs that will help the school system plan for continued growth and improvement in that area.

Townsend, who started in his role as CTAE director this school year, also serves as the CEO of the Golden Isles College and Career Academy. The new strategic plan, he said, would include GICCA programs as well as the CTAE classes at both Brunswick High School and Glynn Academy.

“The strategic plan kind of keeps us focused, to keep us with the end in mind, which is important,” Townsend said. “And plus, it will help us come up with best practices or strategies to keep the business community engaged in the schools. I’m sure that will be part of the plan.”

The strategic plan will help the system plan for new programs and establish a steady curriculum, Townsend said.

“It’s important to make sure we’ve got the instructional pieces in place and strategies in place to support teachers, so we’re not changing every year,” he said. “The last thing you want is the curriculum changing every year.”

To begin the strategic planning process, Townsend plans to convene a meeting with all stakeholders, including teachers, school counselors, administrators, parents, representatives from both the College of Coastal Georgia and Coastal Pines Technical College as well as representatives from the local business community.

“To be prepared for the future, you have to plan well,” Townsend said. “And I think you need to bring the experts to the table … You use your business community, which I think sometimes are under-used, and you use your teachers, who are experts in the classroom.”

Townsend hopes to have the initial meeting sometime next semester. The group will then break into committees, he said, and work to create the strategic plan.

“The strategic plan won’t occur in one day,” Townsend said. “Once we kind of get started, I’m sure we’ll go throughout the summer and early fall, and I’m sure by mid-fall next year in the semester we’ll have a plan for everybody.”

Glynn County Schools has its own strategic plan. GICCA also created a strategic plan about five years ago, Townsend said.

A strategic plan for CTAE programs is not required by the state, Townsend said, but creating such a plan is best practice.

“We did it for the Career Academy,” he said. “We think we need to do it for the system, and we’ll make sure the strategic plan for CTAE aligns with the strategic plan for the school system.”

The planning process will include discussions of potential future CTAE programs and of the current and future workforce needs in Glynn County.

The planners will likely reference a report that shows the breakdown of the current workforce and what percentage is made up of people who graduated from Glynn County Schools and what percentage is people who moved to the area, Townsend said.

“That gives us a good picture of what kind of demand there is for certain fields,” he said.

Dual enrollment opportunities with Coastal Pines and Coastal Georgia have contributed to the growth of CTAE programs in Glynn County Schools, Townsend said.

Promoting those programs will be a component of the new strategic plan.

“That’s key for us — finding out strategically how can we utilize some dual enrollment classes to really help our students out,” Townsend said.

Career academies began popping up around the state about a decade ago — GICCA was founded in 2009 — and since then Townsend said there’s been a growing push for soft skills instruction in schools.

All CTAE courses in Glynn County Schools today embed soft skills into the curriculum, he said.

“I think Glynn County is definitely leading the way, at all three schools,” he said.

The Georgia Department of Education provides a three-to-five year plan that can be evaluated every year, but Townsend said he wants to go beyond that with this new plan.

“We want to really take it further than that,” he said. “We want to make it Glynn County-specific.”

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