Principals and administrators from Gwinnett County Public Schools channeled their inner child with a field trip to local businesses around Gwinnett on Thursday.

“At core of what we’re trying to do is fulfill our vision of having students be prepared for their future,” GCPS Associate Superintendent Jonathan Patterson said. “It’s important for us at this time in the year to continue to learn ourselves and see what is out there in the industry.”

Patterson said the main reason principals and administrators place such an importance on days like this is to connect what they are teaching in school to what is happening with jobs locally. The visit allowed principals a chance to evaluate and look to see if the current career and technical education (CTE) programs are preparing students for jobs following graduation.

“This really helps us focus in as principals and as a district on things we need to work on,” Patterson said. “There are all sorts of interesting industries that we are visiting that gives us clarity on things we might need to invest in.”

“The takeaway from today is Gwinnett as a gateway to the globe for commerce, business and enterprise,” Partnership Gwinnett Director, Education and Talent Development Adam Forrand said. “We saw a sampling of Japanese, Belgian and Italian companies that have a significant presence in our community.”

The companies that participated in the field trip were Mistubishi Electric Cooling and Heating in Suwanee, ViaSat in Duluth, Aluvision in Duluth and AROL in Buford.

For Meadowcreek High School Principal Tommy Welch, the day was a good way to make connections between his school and businesses.

“We’re able to walk into their work space and understand what they need from employees,” Welch said. “We can really build a curriculum and apply it to the real world.

Although it is a high school, Meadowcreek is advertised as “Meadowcreek U” because of the five separate schools that are offered to students. International Business, Communication and Arts, Information Technology, Health and Hospitality and Science, Technology and Engineering are all offered.

“Today I’ve been learning from these businesses, but also building connections to bring these resources into our building,” Welch said. “Gwinnett is really a global market. We have a lot of different companies inside Gwinnett and we have students that are ready for the workforce.”

In addition to high school principals being in attendance, middle school principals took in the different companies as well.

Dorothy Parker-Jarrett, principal of Summerour Middle School, said the day was an eye opening experience.

“This is exciting for me as a principal because it’s my responsibility to expose my middle schoolers to what they can expect in high school,” Parker-Jarrett said. “Today has shown me that the sky is the limit for students.”

Currently in GCPS curriculum at the middle school level students are able to take “connections” which equate to an elective. Parker-Jarrett said seeing some of the industry needs is going to allow the school staff at Summerour to make any changes that will be needed to programs.

“This gives me a lot of opportunity to have conversations with current connection teachers,” Parker-Jarrett said. “Moreover, I’m going to look at our connections offerings and see if I’m missing the boat on something.”

While this is just one of the days that GCPS personnel went out into the field, it certainly won’t be the last. Patterson said the school district will continue to monitor what is going on in the future for their students.

“Are our students prepared and can they go from Gwinnett County Public Schools into these industries ?” Patterson said. “I think the answer is yes, but we can be even more prepared and give our kids even more of an advantage.”

I graduated from Brookwood High School and Georgia Southern University with a degree in Journalism. I cover news and education for the largest school system in the state of Georgia.