On Jan. 26 and 27, the Dawson County High School College and Career Academy hosted the “Be Pro Be Proud” manufacturing bus, aimed at teaching students about their future career options and letting them learn about some of these jobs in fun, hands-on ways.
According to Tour Manager Reginald LaGrone, the bus that was in Dawson County this week has been in operation in Georgia for about two years and travels around the whole state, going to middle and high schools and introducing students to skilled trades and professions.
“The main thing is our focus to make sure that students are aware of the opportunities that are available to them when it comes to skilled trades and not to feel like they’re in a pigeonhole to have to go to college in order to be successful,” LaGrone said. “There are a lot of opportunities out there that all lead to success, and each road doesn’t always take you through college; there’s so many options.”
The bus is filled with several different simulations which operate like fun games for the students to use but that teach them about different trades at the same time. This includes a plumbing wall, where the students connect pipes together to join four points, a commercial truck driving simulator, a welding simulator, a healthcare station where students can view 3D replicas of each system in the body, a hand-eye coordination game, a robot rover to maneuver around cones and virtual reality goggle sponsored by Georgia Power that make the students feel as if they’re in the back of a bucket lift restoring power to a community.
In addition to all the simulations, the bus includes a screen connected to the Be Pro Be Proud website, where students can sign up to receive information about different jobs and trades and what job opportunities there are in each trade. The website also includes information about each profession, including how much it pays, how many jobs are available and how many jobs are projected to be available in the next several years.
“You can scroll through each job and each one will give you what the outlook is for the next 10 years so you know that if you go into this field there’s definitely going to be room for you in this field,” LeGrone said. “We encourage students not to look at college as their only option, but to know that these skilled professions are viable options too.”
The bus was able to visit Dawson County High School through a grant from WorkSource Georgia Mountains, a federal grant program that provides funding for education and training to eligible individuals to enhance their current skills or learn a new trade. According to Kristy Moore, work based learning coordinator at DCHS, the “Be Pro Be Proud” bus visit to the school was very well received by students and teachers alike.
“It’s been amazing; the kids have truly enjoyed it,” Moore said. “They’ve all been engaged and had fun.”
Moore said that the classes who were invited to visit the bus were mostly Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) classes which were closest to the actual trades that the bus taught about.
“We just tried to pick the CTAE classes that were closest to these actual jobs, so we’ve had engineering, healthcare, math and some ag classes,” Moore said. “I’ve had other teachers call and text asking if they can bring their kids — we were able to do this through a grant, so hopefully we’ll be able to do it next year too.”
Moore said that the skilled professions students learned about through “Be Pro Be Proud” are incredibly valuable because it gives students a chance to see that there is a whole plethora of career options in front of them after they graduate high school.
“He’s talked a lot to the kids about how you don’t necessarily have to go to college and get a four-year degree; these are all things you can do without a four-year degree,” Moore said.
To learn more about “Be Pro Be Proud”, its mission in the community and some of the skilled professions the organization aims to teach students about, go to https://www.beprobeproud.org/.