Teachers on Tour visits local industries

Published 6:03 pm Friday, August 2, 2019

LANETT — On Friday, the Chambers County Development Authority played host to Teachers on Tour 2019.

An estimated 150 high school, middle school and Career Tech teachers from the Chambers County and Lanett school systems were treated to breakfast and lunch at the James A. Hardy gym in Lanett.

In between, they were divided into several groups to take tours of workplace settings in the local area. They took tours of Ajin and Wooshin in the Chambers County Industrial Park in Cusseta, KMIN off Towel Avenue in Valley, WestRock, Knauf and Norbord in the Huguley Industrial Park and EAMC-Lanier Hospital in Valley.

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The tour provided a means of allowing today’s teachers to see tomorrow’s places of work for many of their students.

During 8 a.m. registration in the gym, Josh Laney of the Alabama State Department of Education talked to the teachers about the critical nature of workforce development in today’s classrooms. In the session back at the gym, Julie Kornegay of Birmingham talked about the important relationship between education and business. She is employed by the Federal Reserve System.

Some of the local teachers talked to the big assemblage of their peers talk about what they’d seen on the tours. They spoke of the cleanliness of the plants and the efficiency of the production process they’d seen. Some of them marveled at the fact that an estimated 800,000 pounds of insulation is produced every day at Knauf and the amazing process they’d witnessed of pine trees being turned into OSB at Norbord.

“We shouldn’t let the fear of not being able to go to a four-year college make our students despondent,” said one teacher. “In the plants we saw today, you can start off at the bottom and work your way up to a job paying $30 an hour. What they are looking for is someone who will be there on time every day, to do the work that’s assigned them, in other words, to be dependable, someone they can count on.”

The teachers learned that most employment is done through employment agencies. Those who successfully complete 90-day periods can be hired on as full-time employees. Plants such as Ajin and Wooshin have employee of the month and employee of the year awards and offer for selected employees to visit Korea and China over a ten-day period.

A parts supplier for Kia and Hyundai, Auin has been in production for the past 11 years. The plant runs two 12-hour shifts with employees working for two hours and taking ten-minute breaks.

“What they expect of their team members,” said a teacher, “is to be on time every day and to be willing to work.”

Teachers on Tour was coordinated by Kimberly Carter of the CCDA staff. The first day of classes for the new school year will be Thursday, Aug. 8.