North Georgia Technical College (NGTC) received the 2020 Innovation Award from the Community Colleges of Appalachia (CCA) during a virtual awards presentation this week.
The award, presented on Wednesday, May 20, recognized the college’s current "Trek to Success" initiative which encourages employees to serve 13,700 people from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020. The college’s scoreboard is a map of the Appalachian Trail, where one mile equals 6.25 people served and the journey began at Springer Mountain in Georgia with the final destination of 13,700 people served occurs at Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, faculty and staff met weekly in small groups to strategically collaborate in team meetings to reach and assist potential or current credit and non-credit students with the ultimate goal of increasing total enrollment and retention. Every employee submitted a weekly commitment toward the goal and was held accountable the following week. A person served is defined as either an Adult Education, a non-credit or a credit student. Every employee learned how his or her position has an impact on student enrollment and success.
As "Trek to Success" is helping break down some invisible barriers between departments and individual employees, it is unifying the campus unlike any other initiative in the past 20 years, according to NGTC President Dr. Mark Ivester. The Trek is strengthening communications between employees, departments and many community stakeholders. It is also improving internal and external communications, increasing enrollment and visibility, and putting the focus of NGTC's value on the students and communities served.
As a result of Trek to Success, all levels of employees are reaching out to students offering encouragement and assistance while actively engaging them. Enrollment has steadily increased over the past two semesters, most recently resulting in a 6.5% increase from spring 2019 to spring 2020 semester.
"We are honored to receive this award that recognizes the commitments made by our faculty and staff to serve our communities,” said Ivester in a press statement. “We have surpassed our goal, and this year-long work has truly changed the culture on our campus. It’s been exciting to witness, and I’m so very proud of everyone who worked hard to make this goal a reality for North Georgia Tech and our students served.”
"There were 16 nominees across 12 states in the Innovation Award category, and the awards committee certainly chose a fantastic program to recognize and receive this award,” said Dr. Craig Clark, Chairman of the CCA Board of Directors and Vice President of Economic Development at Alfred State College in Alfred, NY. “We are very happy to present North Georgia Technical College with this outstanding award for their admirable work.”
The CCA is a voluntary association of public community colleges in 13 states serving the common interests of member colleges and their communities through programs and services responsive to the unique cultural, geographic, and economic development challenges facing the region.