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Regional teachers forum in Augusta has Cyber focus

The Regional Teacher Collaboration Forum is the first of what is envisioned to be regular gatherings.


By: Tom Corwin, The Augusta Chronicle

A regional forum Tuesday for high school and middle school teachers at Georgia Cyber Center brought together those teaching cyber and related fields to collaborate and network.

Teachers from across the area in cyber and related fields gathered Tuesday at the Georgia Cyber Center for a collaboration forum and to hear about what students need to know.

About 60 middle and high school teachers got a chance to mingle with colleagues from other counties and begin to network and get to know those working at the center or in the field. But part of the mission of the conference also is to allow them to share their successes with others, said Sarah Rees, the director of the Cyber Workforce Academy at the center.

“The idea is to bring them together so we can provide resources and connections to industry but also so they can share among each other,” she said. “So if Columbia County is doing something great, let them share it with someone else. If Richmond County cracked the riddle on this problem, they can share those solutions across the board to enhance education for everyone. It’s not about which county is better. It’s about the students.”

Sometimes it can be to provide resources and connections for a teacher who perhaps has an interest in the field but not necessarily the background, Rees said. That is not a problem for the Richmond County school system, where all of the teachers in the Cyber Academy of Excellence have experience in cyber or closely related fields, said Marquez Hall, a program specialist at the academy. The same goes for the teachers in the cyber program at the Academy of Richmond County, said Nikia Johnson, the coordinator for career, technical and agricultural education programs for Richmond County schools.

“Some come to teach just to change careers,” Hall said. “Some come to teach to give back.”

“On that giving back, they understand just as well as we do that we’re preparing the workforce, so they want to be able to give them that hands-on experience and share with them those experiences they’ve had in business and industry,” Johnson said.

Part of Tuesday’s program was a panel discussion so teachers could hear from professors, instructors and students at Augusta Technical College and Augusta University about the kinds of students they are getting and the skills and knowledge they bring into those programs, Rees said.

“What are the college students that they are getting out of high schools lacking, what are they good at?” she said.A white box labeled "Teacher Forums" in bold black text with a black horizontal line underneath it. The summary states that this forum is the "first of what is envisioned to be regular gatherings for middle and high school cyber teachers and those in related fields to network, shared ideas and meet people in the industry".

Richmond County students might enter programs well-prepared because they have parents in the military, but some might just have skills from using social media or using a computer on their own, she said.

“Sometimes you just have to take those skills and refine them and redirect them” into what’s needed, Johnson said.

Some kids have been taking apart computers on their own to understand how they have been put together, which can be an important attribute, Hall said.

“They do it as a hobby, so you try and cultivate those skills,” he said. “You have to have some knowledge of software and hardware to do cybersecurity.”

It’s no accident that Richmond County’s academy is stocked with experienced teachers, said Superintendent Kenneth Bradshaw, who worked for the system before leaving and recently returning as its leader.

“We embarked upon this endeavor many years ago when we realized that the Cyber of Center of Excellence was moving to Augusta (at Fort Gordon),” he said. “We started our recruiting efforts early.”

That not only benefits Richmond County students but the community as a whole, where cyber has established its presence, Bradshaw said.

“If cyber excellence is here in Augusta to stay, then I think we need to be prepared to provide a workforce for the cyber center,” he said.

 

For more information about the Cyber industry in Augusta click here.

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