Students and faculty at the Liberty College and Career Academy showed off the work-ready skills and workplace ethics they’ve been honing during an open house Thursday night.
“Our purpose this evening is to give the public a chance to come out and see what our students are doing and learning here,” LCCA CEO Tom Alexander said. “We trying to help students develop the skills they need to get a job, do a job and keep a job.”
As guests entered the building, they were greeted by a table covered in fresh-baked cookies and other treats made by culinary-arts students. In the nearby kitchen, several student chefs whipped up Asian-inspired dishes. Samples of the food were going as fast as students could prepare them.
Seniors Xiabia Lee and Keithshae Armstrong made crab rangoon. Other students placed tiny cups of chicken teriyaki on a long, stainless-steel table.
In addition to culinary arts, Alexander said programs include therapeutic services-nursing, therapeutic services-medicine teaching, construction, welding, graphic design, law and justice, engineering, aircraft support, manufacturing, automotive-brake technology and cosmetology.
“There are 27 career academies in Georgia, and every single one is different,” he said. “What we do is listen to what the community wants, what the workforce tells us they need ... The one thing they tell us most often is to teach young people workplace ethics, like coming to work on time properly dressed for the job and willingness to get along with others.”
Alexander said the academy works with the Georgia Department of Labor’s “GeorgiaBEST” program, which focuses on “soft skills.” When students complete the program, they receive a GDOL certificate. This certification and the Georgia Work-Ready certificate they get upon completion of their academic program gives the students an edge when job-hunting, he said.
Alexander said 600 students were enrolled in LCCA last year, and this year’s enrollment is about 660. The school can support up to 800 students.
“I was a principal at Lewis Frasier Elementary School for six years and three years at Midway Middle School,” said Alexander, who’s lived in Liberty County his whole life. “I started out teaching severely disabled kids. That was the most professionally rewarding job I ever had. This one is a close second.”
Open-house attendees Steve and Annie Welborn said they think the school board chose well when it put the LCCA in Alexander’s hands. Steve Welborn, Hinesville’s inspection-department director, is chairman of the LCCA board. His wife previously worked with Alexander as a teacher and curriculum coordinator.
Engineering-applications instructor Mike Goodson also said Alexander is the “perfect man for the job.”
Goodson explained the three-dimensional printing taught in his class. He said his class teaches only the basics of engineering design, but students are encouraged to build on what they learn through higher education and employment.