Jackson, president and CEO of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and vice chair of the College and Career Academy’s board of directors, made the comment during the school’s aptly named Business and Community Day on Tuesday, which brought community and business leaders together for an open house and annual report on the system-run charter school.
Cindy Clanton, who oversees the day-to-day operation of the school as director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education for Carroll County Schools, said the day was meant to “showcase” all the school has to offer, including its 11 programs of study or “pathways.”
“We have a lot to celebrate,” Clanton said. “We’ve almost doubled in size since 2005, and we’re getting more and more students coming from gifted and AP classes.”
The school instructs 1,086 students this year, a slight decrease from last year’s 1,174 students. Students from Villa Rica High and Central High represent the biggest portion of the academy’s students, with almost 70 percent of students coming from those two schools.
The day included the regular board of directors meeting and annual report, as well as tours from students of the expansive facility.
“This is truly one of the high-quality programs in Carroll County, and it’s one of the things that sets our school system apart,” said Carroll County Schools Superintendent Scott Cowart. “I want to commend the faculty and staff, who not only overcame a difficult year of facility changes last year, but excelled from it.”
Almost 300 students completed their career pathway in 2011-2012, helped by partnerships like 12 for Life, Tanner Connections and Carrollton Club.
“Carrollton Club proves that partnerships don’t have to be big to be meaningful to students involved in them,” Clanton said. “All of these partnerships have been worthy additions, and we’re very pleased with them.”
With Tanner Connections, students spend three hours a day at Tanner Medical Center hospitals in Carrollton and Villa Rica in their area of expertise, including nursing, pharmacy, marketing and information technologies.
“Success breeds success,” the director said. “Once we got the ball rolling, it’s kept rolling and keeps getting bigger.”
Cowart said county residents are “very fortunate” to have people who recognize the value of education.
“To have business and community leaders who recognize the value of authentic learning opportunities that will provide our students with the best options,” the superintendent said.
Co-curricular student organizations who excelled in the past year were also highlighted in the annual report, with Clanton recognizing Health Occupations Students of America for receiving several high marks in state and national competitions, including coming in sixth in two categories at the national level.
Other organizations recognized included SkillsUSA, Future Business Leaders of America, Career Technical Instruction and DECA, a student marketing organization.
As for the future of the academy, Clanton said the system plans on starting a campus in the north part of the county next to Tanner/Villa Rica to better accommodate the students from that part of the county.
“Numbers indicate that we can support the north campus and that it is needed,” Clanton said.
She said she and her team is exploring options for bringing core classes to the academy, with the classes being integrated into the more technical learning, such as core math classes being taught by the engineering lab instructor.
In closing the regular board of directors meeting, Jackson told attendees not to take the community’s options for granted.
“People who have lived here for a while, we forget about it,” Jackson said. “But we really have a great thing here. The biggest job we have is communicating and educating the community about what we have here. We know what’s here — we just have to share it.”