• 73°

John Watford: SGTC celebrating possibilities in 2018

Celebrating possibilities! Those two words describe how South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) approaches its mission of workforce development. SGTC has been helping individuals as well as businesses and industries realize their potential since opening our doors in 1948. On behalf of the SGTC faculty, staff, students, and alumni, let me say a heartfelt “Thank You!”
Presently, there are 22 technical colleges in the Technical College System of Georgia.  Our own, SGTC, however, was one of the first two, with the other being North Georgia Tech in Clarksville. Today we serve the seven counties of Crisp, Macon, Marion, Schley, Sumter, Taylor, and Webster. The community support that SGTC enjoys is almost unprecedented for most two-year colleges in Georgia and throughout the country.
As we celebrate our 70th anniversary and pay tribute to a proud past, we continue to look forward. SGTC’s mission is and always has been workforce development. We continue to take pride in that original mission of preparing individuals for success in the workplace and have been recognized these past seven decades as the economic engine of our region when it comes to providing a trained workforce.
The late Mr. Roy Parker, founder of Parker’s Heating and Air, was a member of South Georgia Tech’s first graduating class. His legacy has been closely tied to South Georgia Tech and the business he started after graduation will be celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019. Parker’s Heating and Air has continued to grow and provide comfort for many individuals throughout this region as well as providing solid employment for many individuals over the years. The values that Mr. Parker and his now third-generation company speak volumes about the type of workforce education that SGTC provides and the infinite possibilities that follow as a result.
In 1948, the South Georgia Trade and Vocational School offered seven different programs with six of those still offered today. While the upholstery program was closed in the early 1990s, the college still offers the other original programs known now as electronics technology, air conditioning, diesel technology, automotive maintenance technology, aviation maintenance technology and aircraft structural technology. Today, SGTC boasts over 200 offerings in associate degrees, diplomas, and technical certificates of credit.
That first year, the enrollment included 75 individuals. When I began teaching at the college in January 1990, we had a little over 500 in enrollment. Today that enrollment has climbed to around 3,000 credit students annually. Over the past seven decades, more than 500,000 people have benefited from the services that SGTC has provided through economic development training, continuing education, GED and adult education classes as well as the traditional academic programs. South Georgia Tech graduates are currently working in our local communities and all over the world as law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, teachers, culinary arts professionals, cosmetologists and barbers, accountants, automotive technicians, aviation and aircraft structural technicians, diesel technology mechanics, commercial truck drivers, marketing and business office professionals, welders, electricians, landscape artists, electronics technicians, medical assistants, machinists, industrial workers, drafters, computer support technicians, electrical lineworkers, EMTs, utility equipment workers, professional athletes, and more. Many own their own businesses.
Partnerships with renowned industries such as Caterpillar, John Deere, Delta Airlines, Georgia Power, MetroPower, Pratt & Whitney, and more have fueled our success, but local success stories such as Innovative Senior Solutions and others are equally as important. Jessica Wright, a 2005 graduate of the SGTC’s licensed practical nursing program, and her sister Eshonda Blue, are co-founders of this successful senior care solutions company that has over 250 clients and employs more than 100 staff members. This tremendous success started in the SGTC Business Expansion Center in 2007. Innovative Senior Solutions celebrated their 10th anniversary this past year.
One unique example of SGTC’s positive impact on our local economy occurred the week after Christmas when the SGTC Jets and Lady Jets hosted a basketball tournament on the Americus Campus. The Jets Holiday Classic brought eight teams from across Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina to our community. Four nationally ranked teams, three in the top 10 in the National Junior College Athletic Association, spent three days in Americus. That was 150 individuals occupying hotel rooms, eating in restaurants, buying fuel, and visiting our shopping areas during the after-Christmas holiday period. The games were broadcast over the internet and thousands from around the United States and internationally were able to see the quality of talent, hospitality, and professional attention that only SGTC could apply to such an event. Our athletic teams have been to national tournaments six of the last nine years and former SGTC Jet, Jae Crowder, plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers and has taken the court in previous seasons as a Boston Celtic, and a Dallas Maverick.  Indeed, we are proud of our student athletes seizing opportunities and making the most of possibilities.
During our 70th anniversary in 2018, let South Georgia Technical College show you the possibilities that a quality technical education can offer to you or your employees. If you are a former South Georgia Tech graduate, we would like to hear from you.  Contact Su Ann Bird, Vice President of Institutional Advancement at sbird@southgatech.edu or 229-931-2110 and share your alumni experience.
If you have not been to our campus lately, let me encourage you to come out and take a class or schedule a visit. I believe that you will be pleasantly surprised by the “possibilities” available right here in Americus and at our campus in Crisp County.  Thank you for helping us, help others “Celebrate the Possibilities” in 2018 and beyond.

John Watford, Ed.D., is president of South Georgia Technical College.