An Economic Development Partnership team from the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) visited Bulloch County Schools.

“It was a fantastic experience,” said Patrick Ledford, an economic development liaison with the GaDOE’s Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education division. “ We all enjoyed learning more about Bulloch County and experiencing the  strong stakeholder relationships in the district.”

Economic Development Partnership team
Leaders meeting students in SEGHS Health Sciences Career Pathways program Credit: BCS

The eight-hour site visit was a key part of a year-long process for Bulloch County Schools to seek a district-wide designation from the state’s Economic Development Partnership program. The designation is endorsed by the Georgia Economic Developers Association.

The team from GaDOE came to learn more about the school district’s Career Technical & Agricultural Education program (CTAE) and its collaboration with local post-secondary institutions, businesses, industries, economic developers, and workforce development partners.

The school district was admitted into the Economic Development Partnership program in 2021 after an application process that also required input and support from local partners like the Development Authority of Bulloch County and Great Dane.

Leaders visiting Southeast Bulloch High Audio, Visual, Tech and Film classroom

“We believe we have a strong chance of obtaining the Economic Development Partnership designation for Bulloch County,” said Bethany Gilliam, the school district’s CTAE director. “This would in turn benefit our whole community as we compete for new business and industry. This would not be possible without the continued support of our local partners in these efforts.”

The GaDOE team toured career pathway classes and labs at Portal Middle High School, Southeast Bulloch High School, and Statesboro High School to visit with teachers and students. They also met and spoke one-on-one with multiple school district partners and heard presentations about the district’s Workforce Development Plan and opportunities and successes within its CTAE program.

“They (the GaDOE team) were very complimentary of the work that is going on in our CTAE classrooms and labs, and our district-wide approach to employability skills training,” said Gilliam.

The Economic Development Partnership Designation program is a district-wide process that prepares school districts to adopt best practices and behaviors that support economic development, strengthen their programs, and align education with key regional industries.

In terms of economic development, the Partnership elevates the capability of school systems, like Bulloch, to fill a key role in business recruitment and expansion and talent development for their communities. Fostering a strong relationship between education, business and industry, and economic development stakeholders ensures that Bulloch County Schools will continue to offer high-quality industry relevant programs that are equitable for all students and are supportive of local talent pipeline development for both now and in the future.

“It continues to be an honor to be accepted into the 2021-2022 Economic Development Partnership Designation program,” said Dr. Julie Chance, executive director of Program Improvement for Bulloch County Schools. “Friday’s visit was another positive example of the strong partnerships and ongoing collaboration with our local partners to best prepare our students for successful careers and to build an educated, skilled, and efficient workforce for economic growth in Bulloch County.”

Bulloch County Schools’ Career Technical and Agricultural Education program helps prepare students for their next steps after high school, whether that be college enrollment, enlistment in a branch of our nation’s military, or employment in an in-demand, high-wage career.

The school district’s state-approved career pathway courses leverage partnerships with industry and higher education to ensure students acquire skills needed for immediate and future employment. Bulloch County Schools’ program offers students courses in 13 different career clusters and 23 high school career pathways and three middle school career pathways. Work Based Learning opportunities are also offered for students at all three of the school district’s high schools.

Herschel DeWayne Grice is the founder of Grice Connect an online news and information company in Statesboro, Georgia. DeWayne has been active in the media for over three decades. He brings a unique insight...