Posted: Thursday, October 11th 2012 at 8:29am
Ga. first lady addresses NGCSU literacy summit
DAHLONEGA - Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal joined more than 100 business, civic, education and government leaders from around the region at North Georgia College & State University on Wednesday morning to discuss literacy and economic development.
As wife of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and a former educator, Sandra Deal targets her literacy efforts to young children and travels the state reading to elementary school classrooms. During her keynote address, Deal stressed the importance of education and literacy for Georgians of all ages.
"When Nathan accepted this job as governor, we realized the problems of this state were a problem of education. … When businesses can't find properly trained employees, then we have to get these people trained," Deal said. "We want to give everybody the chance to get an education. Can you imagine what it would be like if everybody in this country could read, and read well? What a difference it would make in our employment and our attitudes. Our goal is to do the very best we can to get Georgians educated."
"Adult Learning in Lumpkin Summit" was presented by Sen. Steve Gooch, a North Georgia alumnus who represents Lumpkin County and District 51 in the General Assembly. The aim of the summit was to raise awareness of illiteracy and how an uneducated workforce can be detrimental to an area's economic development.
In his opening remarks, Gooch thanked the university and President Bonita Jacobs for hosting the literacy event. Jacobs spoke briefly about the importance of literacy and education.
"When they came to me about this event and Steve Gooch told me that more than 3,000 people in Lumpkin County couldn't read, I was just shocked," Jacobs said.
The figure, based on a 2003 study, put Lumpkin's illiteracy rate at 13.4 percent. In addition, 28 percent of Lumpkin County residents older than 25 did not graduate from high school, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Eleven percent of the 12,665 adults older than 25 had less than a ninth-grade education, according to census data.
Wednesday's literacy event also featured a panel discussion that included Jacobs, Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard, Lumpkin County Schools Superintendent Dewey Moye, Tricia Pridemore, executive director of the Governor's Office of Workforce Development, and Roger Yonts, human resources director at Koyo Bearings in Dahlonega.
Jacobs talked about how North Georgia's pending consolidation with Gainesville State College — which will form the University of North Georgia — will open doors for those seeking to further their education.
"With four campuses and a variety of programs, the University of North Georgia will be able to provide multiple pathways to education for the people of this region and I'm excited about the opportunities that presents for the economic development and growth of this region," she said. "We are going to be able to graduate more students in this region and in the state."
North Georgia is scheduled to consolidate with Gainesville State in January 2013, pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and final authorization by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.
"It starts with you," Gerheim said. "Is it easy? No. Nobody said it was going to be easy; these people have been nonreaders for a long time. They don't want to come forward and they're embarrassed about not being able to read."
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