Gordon State Hosts Roundtable for Regional Principals

Gordon State College's Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs John Head addresses principals Kevin Huffstetler of Pike County High School and Will Rustin of Jackson High School.
Gordon State College's Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs John Head addresses principals Kevin Huffstetler of Pike County High School and Will Rustin of Jackson High School.

BY: KATHERYNE A. FIELDS,  Gordon State College Director of Marketing

Gordon State College hosted regional high-school leaders Friday for a Principals' Roundtable which featured both in-person and virtual discussions regarding the distinctive attributes for Gordon State.

Dr. John Head, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, led the roundtable, which provided an opportunity for principals to hear from students, staff, faculty and administration regarding the efforts Gordon has established to provide The Highlander EDGE. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs C. Jeffrey Knighton defined The Highlander EDGE as noted qualities that set Gordon graduates apart: Engaged Innovators, Dedicated Scholars, Gifted Communicators and Ethical Leaders and shared the college's high-impact practices to implement the EDGE.

In mid-October, President Kirk A. Nooks hosted a virtual Superintendents' Roundtable to strengthen the link between leaders in higher education with regional K-12 school systems. Both roundtables coincide with Gordon's five-year strategic plan, Building the Power of WE!, which strives to convene and nurture partnerships to build an education ecosystem approach with K-12 partners focused on increasing the regional college rate.

The leaders reviewed 2019 data placing Gordon State College as the number two school in the 15 surrounding counties for first-time freshman to University System of Georgia institutions, as reported from The University of Georgia Carl Vincent Institute.

Nooks shared highlights in GSC's first two years of the strategic plan and went on to share specific data with the principals within Gordon's 14-county primary service region, along with partners in its Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), which included Butts, Clayton, Coweta, Crawford, Fayette, Henry, Lamar, Macon-Bibb, Meriwether, Monroe, Newton, Pike, Spalding, Talbot and Upson counties.

Professor of English and Director of Honors Program Dr. David Janssen introduced four honors senior students, Hannah Rutledge, from Pike County majoring in English; Victoria Brack, from Spalding County majoring in history, Alyssa Copeland, from Meriwether County majoring in English and Kaila Jones, from Lamar County majoring in history.

Rutledge discussed her collaboration with faculty members to establish an online peer-tutoring system at the beginning of the pandemic.

"My experience has been working with resources and expertise to achieve goals that we want to see happen," Rutledge said. She also shared about her experience in the 2019 study abroad program in Barcelona.

Copeland highlighted the opportunities she has had to hone her skills presenting at conferences. Brack said her ability to research, deliver the information with confidence at the Undergraduate Research Symposium and have direct access to faculty at Gordon has made an impact on her education.
With the encouragement of Janssen, Jones said she diversified her college experiences by taking on a leadership role and presenting her research at a conference, which was held virtually and another new avenue for her.

The nine principals in the roundtable included Jeff Cher, Eastside High School, Newton County; Jim Finch, Mary Persons High School, Monroe County; Kevin Huffstetler, Pike County High School, Pike County; Kimberly Jones, Trinity Christian School, Coweta County; Antonio Mattox, McDonough High School, Henry County; Nelson Render, Lovejoy High School, Clayton County; Will Rustin, Jackson High School, Butts County; Dr. Shonda Shaw, Elite Scholars Academy, Clayton County and Anthony Townsend, Locust Grove High School, Henry County.

"Gordon is traditionally a strong partner in education," Huffstetler said. "From preparing students for the future to the largest receiving institution, we always look forward to sitting at the table in partnership."