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​‘Top Gun’ status awarded to Georgia’s Work-Based Learning Coordinators

​Training helps educators connect with business and industry

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651- 7358,    

PROGRAM CONTACT: Dwayne Hobbs, Program Manager, GaDOE CTAE Division, (404) 606-2348,

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August 8, 2016
– Michele Ausley, a work-based learning (WBL) coordinator for Thomas County Schools, has been awarded the title of “Top Gun WBL Educator” through a partnership between the Georgia Department of Education’s Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education division; the Career, Technical and Agricultural Education Resource Network; and the Work-Based Learning/Youth Apprenticeship Affiliate of the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education. The three organizations teamed up to sponsor a unique staff development training for WBL coordinators who have excelled in a specified set of performance criteria.

The concept of the “Top Gun” training is based loosely on the theme of the movie of the same name: the best of the best are honored with participation in a specialized training opportunity, and given the chance to compete and hone their skills. Participants are then better prepared to promote
Georgia’s Work-Based Learning program, which gives Georgia students the opportunity to receive credit while working in an environment related to their Career Pathway.

“The Work-Based Learning program shapes the careers and lives of Georgia’s students, connecting them with mentors and work experiences that prepare them for the future,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Having the very best WBL coordinators, and creating a space where they can sharpen their skills, enhances those opportunities for our students.”

Twenty teachers/WBL coordinators were invited to attend the Top Gun training, representing all regions of the state. Participants learned to use a marketing and public relations toolkit to more effectively market and brand their program and increase connections with the business and industry sector. Other topics included increasing employability skills in high school students, matching education to economic development needs, and improving the quality of student placements and mentoring. As a result, these educators will be more skilled at building business and industry partnerships, publicizing WBL in their communities, and placing CTAE students in job settings related to their Career Pathways where they will receive intensive mentoring.

During the training, participants were awarded points for their performance in group activities and the quality of the documents they created. In 2016, Michele Ausley took home the title. In 2015, when the Top Gun class was a pilot project, the title was awarded to Brandy Hayes of Calhoun City Schools. Participants received credentials and were “pinned” in a recognition ceremony at the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education’s July conference.

2016 Top Gun Participants:

Ethel C. Powers                      DeKalb County Schools

Richard D. Elder                     Atlanta Public Schools

Ms. Teisha Fooster                 Marietta City Schools

Morris Brooks                         Habersham County Schools

Cree Aiken                             Hall County Schools

Holli Paige Howard                Hall County Schools

Lisa Head                              Richmond County Schools

William Beckum (Bill)              McDuffie County Schools

Mrs. Stephanie Jordan            Lincoln County Schools

Cassandra  Thomas                Tift County Schools

Heather Edwards                    Colquitt County Schools

Michele Ausley                        Thomas County Schools   

Linda  Minor                            Chatham County Schools

Anitra E Williams                     Chatham County Schools

Mrs. Donna Collins                  Vidalia City Schools

Keith Eric Lee                          Schley County Schools

Susan Sims Fuller                   Crisp County Schools

Tina  Ransey                           Bibb County Schools​