Writer: Roger Nielsen
The Hart College and Career Academy, whose training mission is informed by an Institute of Government strategic plan, welcomed students Aug. 2 in a gleaming new facility in Hartwell.
The academy helps ally the Hart County School District with Athens Technical College, economic development officials and area business and industry to provide effective training for high-demand career skills. The new facility houses the district’s career, technical and agricultural education (CTAE) programs and adjoins the existing Hart County High School.
College and career academies are specialized charter schools designed to enhance training in high-demand career skills by building partnerships among local school boards, business and industry leaders and technical colleges throughout Georgia. In Hart County, the Institute collaborated with the University of Georgia’s Archway Partnership to help school leaders and employers develop a strategic and operational plan for the academy.
Starting early this year, Institute faculty member Greg Wilson worked with community stakeholders to establish a plan that supports the academy’s mission to ensure students receive training in critical occupational and technical skills. Working with the Archway Partnership, Wilson facilitated listening sessions with manufacturing executives, business leaders, educators and parents. Information gathered during the listening sessions informed career training strategies designed to help the academy achieve its goal of developing a qualified and prepared workforce in Hart County.
Scott Hardigree, chair of the academy’s board of directors, says obtaining input from a wide range of stakeholders was critical to creating an effective plan. “We’ve got a number of high-tech industry jobs coming here in the next few years. There will be a lot of opportunities that weren’t here before, and this academy will help students prepare for them,” Hardigree said.
The academy has facilities dedicated to the healthcare sciences, information technology, logistics and transportation, culinary arts, industrial training, agriculture, and other fields. Ample room in the new building will allow the district to apply to have its CTAE programs industry certified, according to Hart County High School Principal Kevin Gaines. “This facility will not only make a huge impact on our school, it will make a huge impact on our community,” Gaines said.