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Shaw expands educational partnerships to Bartow Schools

November 19, 2016

An expansion of educational partnerships by Shaw Industries is providing new career options for students at two Bartow County high schools.

The Dalton-based carpet and flooring company announced Nov. 8 — National STEM/STEAM Day — that it was expanding its science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics educational partnerships to include Great Promise Partnership Inc., a Georgia Department of Community Affairs public/private partnership program to help at-risk students complete their high school education while gaining real-world job skills.

Through these educational partnerships, Shaw uses education, mentorship and hands-on experience to showcase to students from elementary school to college the fulfilling careers available in the manufacturing field through an increased STEAM focus.

“Manufacturing offers a wide variety of career options, from designers to data analysts, marketing to maintenance,” said Brian Cooksey, director of operations training and development at Shaw. “Our educational partnerships allow students to find their passions and to see how they might apply those interests and skills in their future careers. We’re helping develop the workforce of the future and providing students in the regions where we operate the opportunity to expand their horizons in ways they may not have previously considered.”

Through its partnership with GPP, Shaw offers employment opportunities to current high school students, enabling them to earn wages while earning their diploma and to develop skills that will help them more readily enter the workforce after graduation, according to a press release.

Students gain hands-on experience in Shaw facilities and receive mentorship from its associates to supplement their classwork.

Shaw began its collaboration with GPP in 2015 with students working in the samples department in Dalton. This fall, the program came to Bartow County, when students from Cass and Woodland high schools, in partnership with the Bartow County College and Career Academy, began working at two of the company’s manufacturing facilities in Cartersville.

“Shaw is continuously looking for ways to develop the next generation of advanced manufacturing talent,” Cooksey said. “Doing so creates better opportunities for students to find a rewarding career, supports local economic development and spurs innovation at Shaw. GPP is a key part of our strategy to expose students to the careers that exist in our company and industry and help students find their path to a successful future. After piloting the GPP program in Dalton, we began exploring other possible areas of the company where the program could be implemented. Bartow County quickly rose up our list due to the great partnerships that Shaw has with the community and school systems.”

To be considered for the program, students have to be recommended by their school in accordance with school and GPP guidelines, Cooksey said. Shaw interviews and selects the students, who must satisfactorily meet pre-employment requirements before they can start and must maintain good attendance and passing grades after they begin.

The initial phase of the program has six students: two from Cass, two from Woodland and two more from Cass starting in January, Cooksey said.

“Two of the Cass students work in rework at Plant 15,” he said. “In this area, they inspect carpet tiles, looking for defects. The Woodland students work at Plant 13 on the coater defect floor, inspecting the carpet for imperfections.”

They typically work between 16 and 24 hours a week, Cooksey said.

“This schedule provides for the students to have a school and work balance so that they can be successful with their school obligations, while gaining hands-on experience and getting paid for work performed at Shaw,” he said.

So far, the program is going well, according to Cooksey.

“The feedback from our team managers and from the coordinators has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “They have been incredibly impressed with the students’ initiative and their involvement in learning.”

Deanna Boughton, work-based-learning coordinator at Cass, said she is “extremely excited and pleased” that Shaw has partnered with the school and GPP to allow students to work at Plant 15.

“This program gives hope to students who may be struggling in school and also have a financial need,” she said. “We are preparing these students for the workforce by assisting them in learning employability skills.”

Boughton said she has a junior and a senior who work at the plant in the mornings then come to Cass for two classes.

“These students are very happy to be working at Shaw,” she said. “Each day, they both get off their buses to tell me how their day was and always have smiles on their faces.”  

Next semester, Cass will send two more seniors to work at Plant 15, bringing the school’s total to four — two females and two males — in January, she added.

Article by Donna Harris with the Daily Tribune News.

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