Kia Plant Tour
Teachers learn economics lesson
by Staff Reports
A dozen Coweta County middle school social studies teachers recently toured the KIA plant in West Point, Georgia, in search of lessons they can use in the classroom.
Michael Raymer – a former high school teacher, now a program manager with the Georgia Council for Economic Education (GCEE) – led the teachers on a tour of the plant. The eighth grade social studies teachers were from Coweta County’s six middle schools and the Central Educational Center.
GCEE is a privately funded educational organization that provides training to Georgia teachers in the best-proven classroom strategies for teaching economics. Most GCEE workshops and materials are provided at no cost to teachers, thanks to financial support from large corporations, small businesses, foundations and individuals.
The organization provided funds for substitute teachers for participant’s classes, in addition to leading the trip.
“We conduct full-day workshops for teachers designed to help them teach economics in grades K-12,” Raymer said. “Each workshop we deliver is specific to the economics standards found in the Georgia Performance Standards. I selected the 8th grade social studies teachers because in their standards they are required to teach about businesses found within Georgia, entrepreneurship and international trade, among other things. The KIA plant is a great example of all of these standards.”
Raymer said had driven by the West Point plant regularly since its opening and was impressed by the scale of the facility.
“As I got to know more about it, I realized what a great story it is,” he said. “It is all about economics, and the lessons teachers can learn there fit into the performance standards.”
A GCEE board member put him in touch with KIA’s managers two years ago, and he began leading teacher-training tours in the plant over the last two years.
The Coweta teachers spent the first half of the day touring West Point plant on golf carts, seeing the plant’s metal stamping, welding, and assembly lines.
“It is a very impressive operation,” Raymer said. “It is ultramodern, very sophisticated, and of course they make some very cool cars, start to finish.”
In the second half of the day, Raymer shared grade-specific lesson plans and classroom materials with them.
Raymer told the group how the plant itself provides an excellent example of modern manufacturing procedures, robotics and computerization, said Raymer, and the story of Georgia and West Point’s efforts to attract the manufacturer to build the plant provides lessons in economic development and infrastructure.
“Plus, we can show teachers the sort of jobs that KIA provides, and the intensive competition among works for those jobs, which provides for great lessons about work skills, team-building skills and employee training,” he said. “They can tell their students that if they want a job in the future, this may be the place for them and this is what you need to do to be competitive.”
Raymer said he hopes to take more Coweta teachers to the plant, including high school teachers.
“Every teacher I’ve taken there thinks it’s amazing. The robotics, the training and systems… it’s all incredible to see,” he said.
Evans Middle School teacher Scott Zachry was among the 12 who visited the plant.
“It really was an awesome experience,” he said. “The facility itself is so big, so complex, and so well organized. The use of robotics and computerization is very impressive, and to see workers making three different types of cars at the same time and managing a tremendous number of parts and delivering them at just the right time… it was unbelievable how well-organized it is.
“We were there to see good examples of economics,” Zachry added. “And we saw in many ways how the plant helps Georgia’s economy, why West Point was a good location for the plant and how the infrastructure that supports it works, from the rail lines to the Port of Savannah to the local airport. One of the standards we teach involves infrastructure and transportation systems, and KIA is a great example of why plants like that get located where they are.”
Zachry said that GCEE backed those examples up with a number of lesson plans tied to Georgia’s Performance Standards.
“They gave us great materials to use in the classroom,” he said.