By GENE ESPY
The Chattooga High School Welding program received its Industry Certification last week at the Chattooga Board of Education meeting.
Kenny Adkins from the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) made the presentation to Jeff Owings, welding instructor at CHS.
“Welding instructor Jeff Owings and the Chattooga High School Welding program has received its Industry Certification,” School Superintendent Jared Hosmer said. “This certification is performed by the Construction Education Federation of Georgia.”
CEFGA leads the process of program evaluation to ensure that individual programs meet industry standards in the areas of equipment, teacher qualification, lab specifications, curriculum and industry.
“CEFGA is tasked by the Georgia Department of Education to help construction high school programs throughout Georgia attain and maintain quality construction programs,” Adkins said.
He said this is a big deal and first of all the school has to apply for it and be accepted to even begin the industry accreditation.
“Only about 25 percent of the construction programs in Georgia are what we call industry certified,” Adkins continued. “We go through this process as a third-party accreditation process and we look at all aspects of the program to include administration curriculum, we interview the students, we look at the labs and the classrooms. It is a full, exhaustive review.”
About a year ago, Jeff Owings started the process and over about a six-month time period, achieved the industry certification this year, Adkins explained.
“So, I am here to formally recognize Chattooga High School’s program,” Adkins said. “You guys have wonderful weather; you have a wonderful environment up here and now you have a verified wonderful world-class metals construction program at Chattooga High School.”
To commemorate the event, Adkins presented a framed certificate for Mr. Owings’ classroom, designating his classroom as industry certified. He also presented a banner for the school designating the Chattooga High School Metals program as a world-class metals program in Georgia.
Chattooga High School Principal and former CTAE Director Emily Mobbs said that the process to obtain Industry Certification was a “very selective process.”
“They gave us $5,000 and we were able to update the curriculum and then Mr. Owings had to go through and make sure he was teaching the modules and the different things they expected him to do,” Dr. Mobbs said.
She said the welding part was more aligned. They worked through the modules and then Mr. Adkins came in several times last year and made sure he looked at the labs, he asked the kids questions, he made sure they were doing the work they were supposed to be doing, and it was a pretty extensive process, she added.
“He has about nine notebooks he had that we had to go through and were all put together,” she said.
“It is a really good process because you get to self-evaluate and see where you need to improve and what you need to do and you also get to see what you are really good at,” Dr. Mobbs said.
“Emily, what does it mean for a student that goes through Mr. Owings’ program and come out with that Industry Certification?” Supt. Jared Hosmer said.
“If they go through all the modules that are available and I believe there are 12, at the end they are industry certified,” she answered.
“One of the most important things that the students gets out of this process is because the student is industry certified, the student gets national construction credentials of where they can take that credential and go to Atlanta, or Savannah or anywhere and an employer can get online, verify those credentials and see the good training that they have been able to achieve here,” Adkins said. “So, it is a good thing for the students.”
The superintendent thanked Jeff Owings, CHS teacher Lisa Hughes and CEFGA for their help in strengthening Chattooga’s workforce development efforts.
Owings told The News Monday, “I am proud to be able to get the Industry Certification done.”
He said he liked to do anything that improves the school and to be able to help the students.
“The kids that finish the pathway out, it will just be a feather in their hat when they go get their Twic card, Owings explained. “It is a wonderful thing. It also takes our school look better. That is what is all about – to try to improve the image and it is a good program.”