From HERE to CAREER Academy first year students

In addition to the technical skills students in the Catoosa From HERE to CAREER Academy will gain, they’ll learn professional “soft skills,” ranging from basics like punctuality and working as a team to things like conflict resolution and thinking outside the box.

This year is the first for the Catoosa From Here to Career Academy. While the joint education program between Catoosa County Public Schools and Georgia Northwestern Technical College (Catoosa Campus) does not yet have their planned building, they decided to proceed with their first class of 16 students from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Ringgold and Heritage high schools.

The students will be studying mechatronics, “a complex interdisciplinary field that combines the study of mechanics, electronics, automation and computers,” four mornings a week at GNTC’s Catoosa Campus and will be taking regular courses at their respective high schools during the afternoon.

On Friday mornings, the students will be taking “professional development” courses taught by Andy Waldrop, marketing director for Fort Oglethorpe Chick-fil-A, and retired Unum executive Keith Jones.

Catoosa County Superintendent of Schools Denia Reese said that during the research stages of the academy, businesses expressed much concern over the lack of “soft” skills — business etiquette, work ethic, teamwork, effective communication, thinking outside the box — in high school and college graduates. She said it was decided that these issues would not go unaddressed.

Friday professional skills classes will consist of 12 modules. The modules, as stated in CCA’s literature, are:

Module 1: ‘The Pen.’ We will open the training by breaking down barriers to success and helping the students understand that they own the power to chart their own destiny.

Module 2: Business Etiquette 101. Overview of the basics: professional introduction/greeting, proper attire, punctuality, mutual respect of peers, respect of teachers/trainers/managers, workforce diversity, understanding generational differences, etc.

Module 3: The Power of Perception. The concept of the ‘neutral bump.’ Understanding how perception impacts our response and how we respond. Investigate how past experiences create false or negative perceptions.

Module 4: Connecting with Effective Communication. A focus on verbal/non-verbal communication; listening skills; intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. Discuss how to animate your voice using the proper volume and pitch changes, enunciation and why it’s important to continually grow our vocabulary.

Module 5: The Attitude That Accelerates. Powerful discussion on how our attitude impacts our life. Focus on motivation, ambition and the willingness to go the extra mile can propel our life to greatness.

Module 6: How to Become a Valued Team Member. Discuss what it means to work within a team and what makes a good teammate. Discuss the negative impact of a ‘top gun.’ Share insight on how courtesy and humility can propel an average team into a dynamic team.

Module 7: Thinking Outside the Box. Discuss why employers desire staff members who are constantly challenging the status quo in search of creative and innovative solutions. Grasp an understanding of when it’s the right time to push for change and when it’s best to simply accept the current way of doing business. Discussion on the concept of being change averse.

Module 8: Feedback, the Career Growth Fuel. Learn why objective feedback is critical for our development and career growth. Learn to distinguish between criticism and honest feedback. Discuss how feedback can become a stumbling block if we don’t learn to have the proper response.

Module 9: Conflict Resolution. Grasp an understanding of the genesis of conflict. Learn concepts and techniques that bring acceptable solutions in the most complex situation. Introduce synergism and how synergistic solutions offer a true ‘win-win.’

Module 10: Characteristics of a Leader. Outline the difference between a boss and a leader. Identify the traits and characteristics of a great leader. Discuss why highly successful people typically manifest strong leadership characteristics.

Module 11: Mastering the Interview. Outline the basic components of a résumé. Specific training on the techniques that will foster confidence during the interview process.

Module 12: The Power of a Game Plan. Learn how to develop a game plan coupled with stretch goals that will become the roadmap to ensure career success.

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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