Team South Georgia 2018: Providing a Greater Impact
Throughout South Georgia, there are people of all ages and varying levels of professional experience that are dedicated to making their communities a better place to live and work.
Nominations for Team South Georgia 2018 were accepted for individuals representing a variety of areas including agriculture, business and industry, economic development, education, government, healthcare, leadership development, public service, tourism, community service, and the arts.
The inaugural class of Team South Georgia recognizes 26 community champions for their innovative spirit and ability to obtain positive results.
South Georgia Business + Culture Magazine has selected Dr. Tina Anderson, president of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, as this year’s Team South Georgia coach.
Creating a Workforce Pipeline
Ensuring that Wiregrass Georgia Technical College is meeting the workforce needs of businesses and industries within its 11-county region is Dr. Tina Anderson’s biggest mission.
“I meet with business and industry leaders to make sure that Wiregrass Tech is producing highly trained workers,” said Anderson, who became Wiregrass Tech’s president in 2013. “I am proud that we have a 99 percent job placement rate for our students. Not just getting them a job but a job within their field.”
Growing up in South Georgia, Anderson understands the importance of education and having a trained workforce to support the needs of businesses and industries.
“When you think about opportunities, it can be difficult for students in rural areas to receive the same opportunities as students in larger metro areas like Atlanta,” said Anderson, who is from Ellaville a small community of fewer than 2,000 people located near Americus. “This is why what we are doing here at Wiregrass Tech is so important. We are building partnerships and sharing resources so that our students have the same advantages as those in larger cities.”
Anderson arrived at Wiregrass Tech in 2013 and immediately began knocking on the doors of local industries.
“I wanted to hear from our industry leaders,” said Anderson, who served as president of Moultrie Technical College for ten years. “What I heard was they were in desperate need of more technical workers, especially welders, which is still an area that is at a deficit.”
Leveraging Wiregrass Tech’s resources with the needs of businesses and industries is one of Anderson’s most significant missions.
“One of the worst things I could hear from a business owner is that we are not teaching the skills their employees need to be successful,” she said. “If we are not offering the right classes then if, at all possible, we need to start that program.”
Providing an Early Start
Anderson is extremely proud of the advancements Wiregrass Tech has made in the state’s dual enrollment program, which allows students in 9th to 12th grade to earn college credits, a certificate, diploma, or associate degree while working toward satisfying requirements for a high school diploma.
“Dual enrollment is about more than hours,” Anderson said. “We consider our dual enrollment program as providing added-value to a student’s education.”
Wiregrass Tech provides dual enrollment courses at 21 public and private high schools in its service region, including classes offered on all four Wiregrass Tech campuses, at participating high schools, and online.
Regarded as a leader in Georgia’s dual enrollment program, Wiregrass Tech had the second highest enrollment for fall 2017. Also, Wiregrass Tech is the first college in Georgia to earn accreditation by the Accreditation Commission of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
The NACEP accreditation process reviewed Wiregrass Tech’s dual enrollment program to ensure that courses taught by credentialed high school teachers are as rigorous as the ones offered on one of Wiregrass Tech’s campuses.
“Our faculty and staff worked very hard to earn NACEP accreditation,” Anderson said. “When you offer a dual enrollment program it is important that you maintain the highest standards. Accreditation is that outside voice that validates that what we are doing meets or exceeds the highest standards.”
Anderson said the accreditation is not a requirement, but an achievement that assures students that Wiregrass Tech is providing instruction and training that meets rigorous national standards and program quality.
In addition to NACEP accreditation, Wiregrass Tech is nationally accredited and recognized for meeting and exceeding industry standards in eight additional programs: Pharmacy Technology, Associate Degree in Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Medical Assisting, Paramedicine Associate Degree, Emergency Medical Services Professions, Automotive Fundamentals Diploma, and Automotive Technology Diploma.
Wiregrass Tech is one of 22 institutions within the Technical College System of Georgia that is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges.
“We go through the very rigorous process of accreditation for our students,” Anderson said. “I do not want any of our students to be denied a job because one of our programs was not accredited.”
Anderson explained that within some professions, for example, nursing, accreditation is required to offer the program.
“It is easier not to go through an accreditation process, but not better,” said Anderson. “Accreditation is that extra piece that identifies a program as having met a very high standard, and this is especially important when a student starts looking for a job. Employers in this area know that a Wiregrass student is well trained within their area of study.”
A Dream Job
When asked what is her favorite part about being president of Wiregrass Tech, with enthusiasm, Anderson said, “Without a doubt, it is the students.”
Anderson has many reasons to be proud. Wiregrass Tech students recently received the most medals among Georgia colleges represented at the 54th Annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. More than 6,300 students competed in 102 different trade, technical, and leadership fields.
“This is a great opportunity for our students,” Anderson said. “They not only get an opportunity to showcase their skills but often receive job offers.”
Andersons said finding a job is the ultimate goal. “Our mission is workforce development. The entire reason we exist is to provide businesses and industries with skilled employees.”
When Anderson talks about the success of Wiregrass Tech, she is quick to give credit to Wiregrass Tech’s faculty and staff.
“It is not necessary for me to know how to run every department,” said Anderson, “but it is vital that I have a team of people who can advise me. I consider my senior staff and faculty as leaders. They are all leaders; it is their job to provide expertise within their area.”
Anderson said her responsibility is to guide a collaborative effort.
“We are a team,” she said. “I never make an important decision until I have first discussed it with my senior staff. I ask the question, ‘How will this decision impact someone else or another department?’ It is not that I cannot make the decision, but I do not want to decide until I have first talked to those who have expertise in that area.”
With the mindset of a servant, Anderson regards her responsibility as that of a caretaker.
“This job does not give me the freedom to do what I want to do; it gives me the responsibility to do what I should,” Anderson said. “I take that responsibility very seriously, and it is never far from my thoughts. What I try to remember is we are servants of Georgia’s taxpayers. They expect me, and my team, to be honest, have the highest integrity, work hard, and show positive results. I never want to forget that responsibility.”