Coweta's CEC named 2012 Innovator Award winner

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Central Educational Center in Newnan, home to several extension programs, has been recognized for achievement in education and workforce development.

From Staff Reports
education@newnan.com
Coweta County’s Central Educational Center charter school has been selected to represent Georgia as the winner of the Southern Growth Policies Board’s 2012 Innovator Award.
CEC was chosen for the award from among a number of nominees in the South that have achieved success important in the area of education and workforce development.
As one of 13 “Innovators” chosen from 13 southeastern states, the charter school will be publicly recognized June 25 at an awards ceremony during Southern Growth’s Chairman’s Conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This year’s conference, hosted by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, will focus on the importance of connections between education and the workforce.
“CEC was begun by business leaders, the Coweta County School System and West Georgia Technical College to link education and the workforce in a different way at an earlier age for the benefit of students and companies,” said Mark Whitlock, the charter school’s CEO. “Twelve years after it began, the hard work to plan and implement CEC is achieving an even broader range of objectives.
“CEC has been involved with community leaders in recruiting new jobs and increased investment for Coweta County, and has been involved in assisting the state’s second-largest technical college, West Georgia Technical College, to provide even more programs and services directly in Coweta County,” Whitlock added. “CEC has been involved in creating even more connections among our three Coweta County public high schools. All the while, CEC has remained focused on that mission to ensure a viable 21st century workforce.”
Over the last two years, 342 of the school’s students – called team members at CEC – graduated with high-skill college certifications obtained at CEC because of the connection between Coweta County Schools and West Georgia Tech.”

The Southern Growth Policies Board (SGPB) is a non-partisan public policy think tank based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina which develops and advances economic development policies by providing a forum for partnership and dialog among a diverse cross-section of the region’s governors, legislators, business and academic leaders and the economic- and community-development sectors.

Supported by memberships from 13 Southern states — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia – the SGPB’s public-private partnership is devoted to strengthening the South’s economy and creating the highest possible quality of life.

Formed by the region’s governors in 1971, Southern Growth Policies Board develops and advances visionary economic development policies by providing a forum for partnership and dialog among a diverse cross-section of the region’s governors, legislators, business and academic leaders and the economic- and community-development sectors. SGPB’s research focuses on innovation and technology, globalization, the changing nature of the workforce and the vital role of the community.

Whitlock said CEC was nominated for the award by Jason Chernock, a Project Manager, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute, based upon Chernock’s experience with CEC when surveying Coweta County last year.

“Mr. Chernock led our community through a recent gap analysis examining citizens’ service needs and the capacity of local non-profits to meet those service needs,” Whitlock said. “ He asked CEC to be one of the non-profits to participate, and held community group sessions at CEC.”

Chernock’s work with the Enterprise Innovation Institute includes identifying and applying innovative approaches to economic development, fostering public engagement and involvement, supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, and conducting customized research for foundations and nonprofit organizations. He is spearheading the Regional Data Mapping Pilot Project, an effort to assess the strengths, challenges and gaps among non-profit and human service providers throughout several metro Atlanta communities.

“This year’s Southern Growth Policies Board Innovator Award focused on identifying truly unique practices for strengthening our workforce in an increasingly competitive global business environment,” Chernock said. “I can think of no organization more deserving than the Central Educational Center. The Central Educational Center was universally praised by everyone I spoke with in Coweta County as an example of how to meet both the educational and workforce development needs of the community.”



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