FCEF Reaches the Younger Generation

[Rome, Ga.] At Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC), class is now in session with the inaugural participation of dual enrollment high school students from Dalton Academy. The students from Dalton Academy started their first-class January 8th, 2024 at GNTC. The classes will run Monday to Thursday, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. introducing them to the basic floor covering installation program. This program consists of 300 contact hours of training for carpet, hardwood, resilient and tile installation. On Fridays, they will engage in the school’s full-time virtual program to fulfill the remaining coursework required for graduation.

In early December, a pivotal parent/student open house took place in the flooring lab at GNTC. The purpose was to acquaint the students with the flooring program as a viable option for their ongoing education and career development. During the open house, both the students and parents posed insightful questions, gaining valuable insights into the myriad of opportunities within the flooring industry. The meeting concluded successfully, with all attending students eagerly enrolling in the program, which officially commenced today.

Kaye Whitener, the director of operations at FCEF, emphasized, “Sustainable recruitment must commence before the college-age phase to fully expose the flooring industry to a new generation of talent. Dual enrollment, which allows high school students to undertake college classes while still enrolled in high school, is a strategic approach. These classes earn both high school and college credits, offering the potential benefit of reducing the number of college courses needed or those in pursuit of a non-degree career, ultimately leading to cost savings. Eligibility criteria for dual enrollment vary by state but typically require students to be juniors or seniors while maintaining a minimum GPA. This is how we begin to build awareness to our industry, and secure quality talent for the labor pool.”

Expressing excitement, Matthew Mederios, Ed.D., principal of The Dalton Academy, commented, “We are thrilled that these students have the opportunity to leverage dual enrollment during the final semester of their senior year, completing the Flooring Installer program at GNTC before their high school graduation ceremony. This accomplishment ensures they are not only career-ready but also qualified for lucrative employment opportunities. We take immense pride in these students for proactively enrolling in this program and investing in their own futures.”

Kristi Hart, M.S. | GNTC director of high school initiatives shared, “I am delighted to see these high school seniors from Dalton Public Schools participating in our Flooring Installation Technician program. This dual enrollment opportunity offers them far more than academic credits—it provides a direct pathway to a promising career in the flooring industry.

It’s exciting to know these students are gaining hands-on experience and invaluable skills while still in high school and setting the stage for their future success as certified professionals. The significance of this program for these students cannot be overstated; it’s a chance to explore a specialized field, gain practical knowledge, and enter the workforce with confidence and competence. I am so pleased to be a small part of the team of people who are fostering a pipeline of talent that will contribute to the flooring industry’s growth and innovation.

I’m immensely proud of these students and the strides they’re making towards their future careers. This program emphasizes the importance of early exposure and hands-on learning, which is shaping these students into the capable professionals this industry needs. It’s an honor to be a part of their journey and witness their growth and dedication firsthand.”

The connection between FCEF and Dalton Academy was established through the introduction made by a local retailer, Sinclair Myers of Myers Carpets in Dalton, Ga. Myers explained, “The idea emerged during discussions about the Georgia Match program at an education foundation board meeting.” Georgia Match, designed for all high school seniors in Georgia, guides them toward schools and universities that align with their preferences. Curious about the program’s inclusion of trade schools, Myers raised the question during discussions with the board and school superintendent, Tim Scott.

Highlighting the shortage of skilled installers in the industry, Myers emphasized the value of trade schools for graduating seniors seeking career opportunities in installation. Through efforts to connect Kaye and Tim, a successful collaboration ensued, with both individuals doing an outstanding job engaging students with the concept. Myers expressed excitement about the potential for these students to become entrepreneurs, benefiting from the education and skills acquired in trade schools, leading to prosperous careers with minimal student debt. I’m very excited about the opportunity for these students to become entrepreneurs and reap the benefits of a flooring installer.”

For more information about the program, visit our websites at flooryourfuture.com and fcef.org.