buisinesstime1.jpgAnthony “Bubba” Thornton dropped out of school six months before graduation. It wasn’t because he was failing.
“I kept up with my grades. I was just young and dumb,” he said.
Now that he is older and wiser, Thornton is one of eight people in a Lanier Tech pilot program putting in time to earn his GED where he works.
Lumpkin County Literacy Coalition (LCLC) Board member Geoffrey Kridel pitched the idea of on-site GED classes to Brenda Thomas, Associate Vice President of Adult Eduvcation at Lanier Tech, then to the LCLC board. Kridel had previously worked at Poly Portables, and had spoken with new CEO Jeff Thomas about the possibility.
DSC_0001_edited“He suggested I talk to Henry Davis about getting his people engaged,” Kridel said.
It wasn’t hard to convince Davis, who is the operations manager for Poly Portables. He is on the LCLC board.
“I have always promoted people going back and getting their education, in the plant and in the community. We thought it would be a good thing to offer classes here,” he said. “The GED program is offered in town, but some employees have transportation issues, and other obstacles.”
“Money for gas and child care are two of the largest issues facing people who want to get their GED,” Kridel said. “Having the program on site eliminates the gas issue.”
DSC_0004_editedLanier Tech provides the instructor at no cost. Poly Portables provides the space. The company also purchased several computers for the students to use in taking pre-tests, and has agreed to pay the $160 cost for the final GED testing.
Having classes on site not only saves gas money, it’s a lot easier to punch out and take a few steps from the shop floor to the conference room, where classes are held. A shift at Poly Portables typically runs from 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Davis said.
“They can go straight from the floor right to structured study two days a week and to study on their own the other three days 3-6 p.m.,” he said. “They don’t have to leave the building.”
“If it wasn’t for Poly Portables,” Thornton said, “I wouldn’t have had the time or the opportunity to get my GED. I work 12 hours in a hot plant and I don’t really want to go to school when I’m done.”
Poly Portables now requires its new hires to have a high school diploma or GED, although those who were already working there and did not have that all-important piece of paper were grandfathered in.
“America’s got the jobs. We don’t have the work force with the skills they need,” Davis said…
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Story by Sharon Hall, photos by Geoffrey Kridel

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