THINC presents to Congressional committee

Published 9:17 pm Sunday, July 29, 2018

Education in Troup County has had highs and lows over the years, but right now, one aspect of education within the county is being considered as an example of how schools could work throughout the country.

THINC College and Career Academy Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kathy Carlisle testified before the U.S. Congressional Education and Workforce Committee — along with a variety of speakers from across the country — on an education bill to support career and technical education programs. The bill was approved by Congress on Wednesday, and it was presented to the president on Thursday.

Carlisle and the other presenters were tasked with explaining the benefits of career and technical education programs in their communities.

“What that does is it helps them to have a plan of success,” Carlisle said. “We have kids who are in the school system. We work with them. They have a bus, and the kids come to THINC on the college campus. They can walk down the hall and take college classes during the day along with their high school classes. They are gaining college certificates. They are taking academic courses, and they are getting ready for success after they graduate.”

She highlighted THINC’s role in workforce development in one of the fastest growing communities in the country in terms of job creation, with over 6,000 new jobs projected within the next five years. However, what set THINC apart in the discussion was the fact that normal, public school students are able to take part in the program.

“With our students, we look just like the school system,” Carlisle said. “We have about 69 percent of our students who are on free and reduced lunch. We have 7 percent of our students who have a GPA of below 2.0, so we are very diverse. We want to be that way. We don’t want to have just one certain population of students.”

Carlisle also touched on the role of the support of local businesses in the program’s success and some of the technical programs, like nursing, which are offered in the program. She emphasized THINC’s ability to make students feel like they are able to take part in more difficult programs, even if they are the first ones in their families to do so.

“We live in an area where only 25 percent of the population has a college degree,” Carlisle said. “We are still dealing with first generation college students, so if you can just imagine a very diverse population of students ranging from students in special education to students that are at risk to students that are going to [technical programs]. They are all in this program inside of this innovative space in a technical college.”

Congressman Drew Ferguson was one of the original sponsors of H.R. 2353 when it was first introduced in May 2017. He also spoke in favor of the bill.

“I think it is pretty remarkable to [hear] all of [these presenters] and the previous panel as we sit here and listen [to see how] we are working so hard to find innovative solutions to overcome the barriers that are in place [hindering] our students,” Ferguson said. “These innovative ideas should become the rule not the exception.”

Ferguson counted the vote as evidence of the impact that the programs are already having and a means of supporting them in the future.

“As I have spoken with folks back home, I have heard time and again from business owners the importance of training a new generation of skilled workers,” said Ferguson. “… This bill will continue to support these opportunities, increasing funding and giving states more flexibility to implement innovative programs like the ones across Georgia’s Third District.”

THINC College and Career Academy is expected to have 800 students enrolled in the program in fall 2018. To learn more about the program, visit