Gordon State College’s Momentum Year Effort

BARNESVILLE, GA – Offering multiple options, ranging from business to nursing, Gordon State College announced its Fall Semester 2019 Fire 1000 Speakers. All first-year students must take FIRE 1000 (Freshman Introduction to Reasoning Essentials), a two-credit core curriculum class which fosters productive academic mindsets, helps establish critical thinking skills and supports students as they encounter challenges associated with a transition to college-level work. It has proven to be beneficial for those who may be the first in their family ever to attend college.

Eight FIRE 1000 speakers are featured during the month of October. The guests are speaking with a focused academic area and sharing personal experience in their field of expertise that the students want to pursue after graduation.

The October 1 agenda included Dr. Andrea Scandrett, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Learning for Lamar County School System addressed the School of Education and George Hightower, Vice President for Community Enterprises, a GSC Foundation Board Member and former Foundation president spoke to the business department. Hightower is a staunch supporter of Gordon State College. The Dorothy W. Hightower Collaborative Learning Center and Library is named in honor of George’s mother Dorothy. George’s father served as a foundation president as well.   

On October 2, Don Neuner, one of the people who formed Synergy Solutions Group and a GSC Foundation Board Member will be talking with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). On October 3, CEO at United Bank and GSC Foundation Board Member, Jim Edwards is speaking with the business department.

On October 8, Kim Terrell the Coordinator, Employment and Staffing for Henry County Schools is speaking with the Gordon State College campus in Henry County. Major Leslie Holmes with the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office will address the GSC School of Arts and Sciences. 

Kyle Fletcher, Executive Director of the Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority, is scheduled to speak with the STEM department on October 10. National Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Curtis Jones, who serves as the superintendent for Bibb County Schools, is slated to meet with the Education department on October 22.

The semester started with seven speakers in August and September, including Dr. Anne Purvis, the Nursing Dean for GSC; Dr. Samantha Bishop, a nursing professor for the institution; and Dr. Victor Vilchiz, the GSC Dean for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, who all spoke with nursing students.

Several other speakers addressed students, including, Dr. Stephen Mulder Director of Music, Griffin First United Methodist Church and Artistic Director, Griffin Choral; Dan White, Partner and CFO, Passive Solar Design and Construction Inc.; Founder & Director of Program Services, The Rural Library Project and GSC Foundation Member. Dr. Theresa Stanley, GSC biology professor, spoke with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) majors. Lucinda Dallas, CEO for CFS Wealth Management and GSC Foundation Chair spoke with social science students.

Fire 1000 classes are a part of the GSC’s Highlander EDGE initiative which aligns a variety of existing Gordon State student success and engagement initiatives with new programming coming out of the University System of Georgia’s Momentum Year effort, which focuses primarily on the crucial first—or “momentum”—year, according to GSC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Jeffery Knighton. 

By aligning existing initiatives with the Momentum Year work, GSC hopes to leverage its resources and build a structure that supports engagement and success from the time students first set foot on campus for orientation up through the time they walk across Lambdin Green to receive their diplomas.

Taking 15 or more credits in the fall semester is one of the three key elements that create a Momentum Year for students. Evidence-based research confirms that college students are most successful when they make a purposeful choice of a major or academic focus area at the very start of their college career; enter with a productive academic mindset and follow a clearly-sequenced pathway that include core English and Math classes in their first year, nine credits in their academic focus area and 30 credits in the first year. Gordon State College led among state colleges and ranked third in the system overall last year in percentage of first year students taking 15 or more credits in fall semester, according to a University System of Georgia report.