On January 8, 2024, nine high school students will begin their flooring installation career journey through the dual-enrollment partnership between The Dalton Academy (TDA), a Whitfield County area high school, and Georgia Northwestern Community College (GNTC). Students and parents, TDA faculty, GNTC administration and faculty, and the Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) held a meeting on December 7, 2023 at the GNTC campus to discuss the flooring installation program and answer any questions the students, parents and TDA faculty might have. At the conclusion of the event, all nine students signed on to be the first round of high school students to enter the program—a first for the flooring industry.  

“Just like the pilot program we offered last year through GNTC in the college system, this is another historic event for the floor covering industry,” said Kaye Whitener, director of operations, FCEF. “Industry firsts mean that we will have the opportunity to be a consideration when a student is thinking about careers. Our mission and purpose are being fulfilled with programs such as this.”  

The 12-credit hour Flooring Installation Technician course, the product of the FCEF and its partners—the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), International Certified Flooring Installers (CFI) association, and the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF)—is available to qualified TDA high school students where they will earn high school and college credit concurrently.  

In addition to completing college courses while in high school, students will do so at no cost to them. According to Kristi Hart, GNTC’s director of high school initiatives, the state of Georgia will cover up to 30 credit hours under the Dual Enrollment Program, formerly known as Move On When Ready.  

Justin Faulknor, Flooring Installation Technician course instructor, as well as Megan Faulknor, education project manager, FCEF, were on hand to answer questions. The TDA faculty asked questions concerning the layout of the curriculum, what sort of skills the students would achieve and where they would be able to apply them once they’ve completed the course.  

“It was eye-opening for our staff because we did not know that this opportunity even existed,” said Matthew Mederios, principal, TDA. “Now that we are aware of it, we will be looking for additional dual-enrollment opportunities through the technical college system to offer our students career pathways that they can take advantage of prior to high school graduation.” 

This, however, is not the first dual-enrollment partnership between TDA and GNTC, according to Mederios. “We established a dual-enrollment partnership the year we opened the [high] school in 2021-2022,” he said. “We actually offered dual-enrollment Math and Healthcare classes on our campus last school year with our teachers, who are qualified adjunct professors with GNTC. Unfortunately, we did not have the student interest in those dual-enrollment classes this school year to be able to offer them again.” 

Other questions concerning supplies and transportation were addressed during the meeting as well. Justin Faulknor provided a carpet seam sealing demonstration to showcase the types of tools, supplies and techniques that students will be using and learning over the course of the 15 weeks, assuring both parents and students that everything will be supplied. Mederios explained that, for those in need of transportation, the high school will be offering a shuttle to and from the college.  

As for next steps, according to Whitener, the FCEF will continue to develop partnerships in other high schools and colleges that are interested in the program. “The FCEF will continually strive to build out pathways to present our industry to a new generation and bring new people into the industry,” she said. “What that means for the industry is a stronger future with quality talent.” 

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