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'Eye Opening' Trip To Kia Has Camp Creek Guidance Counselor Ready For More

Darrin Davis has been a guidance counselor for 25 years. He’s seen it all.

But after taking a group of students from Camp Creek Middle School to the KIA Manufacturing plant in West Point and attending SkillsUSA in the spring, he has a new vision for what he hopes to do in Fulton County as he guides young minds into adulthood.

“I’m having conversations about trying to bring back architecture and constriction programs and that came out of me visiting SkillsUSA last spring,” Davis told me. “I want to try and link our kids into this careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree.”

Davis applied for and received the Trade Five grant we’ve written about before. He said the $500 went to helping cover the cost of a charter bus it took to get the students to and from the KIA plant.

He heard about the Trade Five grant from a conversation with people from Georgia’s CTAE program, and then after speaking with Trade Five’s Mark Lee they came up with the idea of visiting KIA to show students what modern manufacturing looked like up close.

Davis said he knows there are great opportunities right in Georgia, and he wanted to show that to his students.

“I really try to engage the kids and to challenge them to look at what’s happening here in Georgia and what’s near them,” he said. “What’s around you? What jobs are being created [close by]?”

The trip allowed the students to see the process of making a modern automobile from the sheet metal to the finished product. The students were also able to check out how KIA uses robotics to help build its cars, something that was of particular interest to his students.

The trip was a smashing success, so much so that Davis plans to take another group to KIA in the fall.

“Oh my gosh… It was an eye opener. I had kids who wanted to work there,” he said. “They were blown away by it. I work in a Title 1 school…they’re good kids and if they had an opportunity to develop a skill to provide for themselves they’d be great citizens.”

Exposing middle school students—and elementary students, too—to the skilled trades is one way of helping fix an ailing pipeline of the workforce we’ll need in the near future. If you or someone you know is a teacher and is interested in applying for a Trade Five grant, click here to learn more about the program.

Davis’ advice to his fellow teachers and counselors was crystal clear as it relates to the Trade Five grant.

“You should absolutely apply,” he said. “I have to go back to my experience working with Title 1 kids. These are kids who are not going to get this exposure otherwise.

We took 45 kids and over half were thoroughly interested in the industry, so imagine what we could do with even greater resources?”

Parrish Walton

Parrish Walton is a communications specialist with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). He is the primary author of the Georgia@Work blog, which aims to educate Georgia citizens on all of the great things done by the Workforce Division within GDEcD. Parrish is a proud product of the public school system of... more