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New Lifelong Learner Programs for 50+

lifelong learner programs

The Georgia Southern University Division of Continuing Education (CE) is expanding its offerings to include specially designed courses for the 50+ population.

The Lifelong Learner programs feature a wide breadth of travel, artistic and language-based offerings among others. The Beaufort Tour and Charleston Tea Plantation excursions are the first of their kind developed by CE since the Flying Eagles program of the early 2010s. Both educational tours explore some of South Carolina’s most beloved and historic cities, rich in Lowcountry history.

These new programs come on the heels of the Evening at Armstrong Community Lecture Series, a series of events led by members of the community designed to provide lifelong enrichment for those seeking to stay engaged after retirement. These lectures feature a diverse range of topics; past lecturers include Pat Prokop, a veteran meteorologist of more than 30 years who is also known for his green thumb and “backyard astronomy” photographs.

Deedee Southerlin, Ed.D., the program manager working alongside director Diane Badakhsh, Ed.D., and other members of CE have piloted several of these lifelong learning courses for the spring 2020 season.

“The intent of lifelong learning content is more about engaging individuals in something they find meaningful—that continues to help them develop intellectually,” Dr. Southerlin said. “The programs that are successful will match the interest of their communities.”

Those interested in learning more about the Lifelong Learning Programs through CE can view a listing in the spring 2020 issue of Advance., on the website, or contact Dr. Southerlin at or 912-478-5555.

Customized Training: An Organization’s Secret to Success

Dan Grimsley, M.A., MBB, CPM, CMfgE, teaching Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification to a company’s staff.

The world is changing more and more – and not just every year. Every month, every week, every day, there are new innovations, breakthroughs, and ideas that redefine industries and communities. Unfortunately, there are some rainy days for businesses, and while keeping up with an unpredictable landscape isn’t always easy, there are ways companies can traverse it successfully.

The workplace has evolved in the past few years more than it has in decades. Some employees only need a laptop or a tablet on a day-to-day basis, and for those working from home, commuting is a thing of the past. The tools to get the job done are always changing, too. We’re still learning new things about Google Sheets and QuickBooks. How do we catch up? Many businesses are realizing that old dogs can learn new tricks: experts are calling this reskilling and upskilling.

Reskilling and upskilling is new to many businesses, but it is proven to work. Corporate giants like Amazon and Mastercard have successfully implemented reskilling programs prior to 2020 which maximized the potential of their staff without the expense or uncertainty of hiring new employees. Career training is never finished. There’s always something new to learn.

Grimsley has been happily training working professionals for 25 years and counting.

Dan Grimsley is a master black belt in Lean Six Sigma. For 25 years, he’s trained industries all over the world to improve quality and process. We’re proud to work with Grimsley and many other professionals to provide customized training. We are fortunate to partner with many seasoned experts.

There is great demand for new and personalized training. In the past year alone, our team at Georgia Southern has provided customized training to major companies and organizations. Dan Grimsley, M.A., MBB, CPM, CMfgE, recently led a customized training Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification training for staff from Crider Foods. Fittingly, Lean Six Sigma helps to identify methods and techniques to eliminate waste from a company’s processes and value streams to boost productivity and save on resources. For many businesses, it’s essential.

Want to learn from Dan Grimsley? Learn more about Project Management Professional Exam Prep!

Introducing NYAR

Attendees standing together at one of NYAR’s opening day sessions.

National Youth Advocacy and Resilience Conference has brought hundreds of youth advocates and professionals together every year since 1990 to encourage, inspire, and provide support for educators and adults who care for marginalized and at-risk youth. Typically hosted in Savannah, Georgia, NYAR hosted their very first virtual conference in 2021, which was a huge success. Despite the challenges associated with hosting a conference during a pandemic, the hosts and participants of NYAR praised its success.

March 2022 will see the #NYAR22 conference hosted once again in Savannah, Georgia. To learn more about the upcoming conference, as well as the history and vision for the future of NYAR, Georgia Southern’s Division of Continuing Education sat down with Dr. Alisa Leckie and Dr. Taylor Norman, co-directors of National Youth Advocacy & Resilience.

Dr. Taylor Norman (left) and Dr. Alisa Leckie (right), co-directors of National Youth Advocacy & Resilience.

Q: What is NYAR?

Dr. Leckie: NYAR was founded over 30 years ago when the superintendent of Savannah- Chatham Schools, several community leaders, and faculty members from Georgia Southern got together to find a way to bring professionals together to meet the needs of youth in communities. Since then, it’s had an amazing and robust impact on the community and educators from around the country.

Dr. Norman: We wanted to bring a group of professionals together who serve youth and give them the space to professionally develop their craft and share stories with each other.

Dr. Leckie: It’s more than just schools. In order to really impact youth and the communities in which they live in, we have to look at all of those influences on a child’s life.

Dr. Norman: The 5-H strand was incorporated into NYAR because we wanted to make sure the holistic wellbeing of all children were served by the adults who advocated for and worked with them.

We’re NOT out there to fix the youth, we’re there to ADVOCATE for and SUPPORT the YOUTH.

Q: What does Advocacy and Resilience mean?

Dr. Leckie: The conference’s original name, “National Youth-At-Risk” was revised last year for a number of reasons. We had been in conversation as professionals and faculty members of Georgia Southern for a long time about the deficit label of the “At-Risk” portion of our conference.

Dr. Norman: While we were having conversations with the students and youth who we serve through the conference, we came to find out that they took issue with the “At-Risk” title. And that made us start thinking about why we call them that.

Dr. Leckie: While we don’t want to sugarcoat the realities that many of our youth live in, we really want to focus on and recognize the resilience that our students and our youth have and the advocacy work that the adults do to serve and support the youth that they work with.

Dr. Norman: So we took those large steps to show that resilience and that advocacy is what the conference is all about.

Dr. Leckie: We’re not out there to fix the youth, we’re there to advocate for and support the youth, many of whom are doing amazing things in their communities.

Dr. Norman: The change in the name is also connected to a vision that we have to take the conference proceeds and the wonderful research we collect at the conference and bring it into the communities and make sure that those adults who serve those youth are not only supported for three days in Savannah, but 365 days of the year.

Attendees meet exhibitors, keynotes, featured presenters, and many others at NYAR.

Q: What impact does NYAR have?

Dr. Leckie: It’s really challenging to quantify how NYAR has impacted the local and regional communities. Even in the state of Georgia and our local areas, like Savannah-Chatham, the number of teachers and professionals to attend our conference every year is astounding, and we have found some ways to take proceeds from the conference and re-invest them into the communities which we serve, from drive-through community care fairs, to bringing in speakers to work with youth and adults. We really want the impact of the conference to last beyond the conference.

Dr. Norman: We were also able to find a way to create a critical resource award that we’ve been able to invest in several school corporations just here near us and we hope to bring that nationally within the next five years.

Q: Are there any specific programs you’ve started that re-invest into communities?

Dr. Leckie: The Critical Resource Award really builds on the work that we’re already doing to recognize schools. Our High Flying Schools awards are a national recognition for schools that are making big impacts with traditionally marginalized student populations.

Dr. Norman: This year, we decided to launch a new sort of award where students will be able to submit their artwork, about their resilience and their advocacy for themselves, and we’re calling that NYARt.

Dr. Leckie: I can’t wait to see this year’s winners and all the submissions that are sure to come in.

Q: What does NYAR mean to you?

Dr. Leckie: I still remember my first NYAR conference. It was such a dramatically different experience than the traditional professional conferences that I had attended. The energy level, the positivity, the excitement, and the engagement from practitioners from all over the country were inspiring.

Dr. Norman: And as two adults who did serve youth in our former professional lives, it means so much to me that we are able to give back to adults who serve the youth as we did.

Dr. Leckie: We’d leave each conference engaged, excited, energized, ready to tackle the rest of the school year and beyond.

Dr. Norman: Thinking about the end of the virtual conference last year, everybody still signed on for that final meeting, just to say goodbye to each other. You even see that energy in virtual space too.

Q: What can attendees expect from NYAR?

Dr. Leckie: I think we also want our attendees to leave with that sense of connectedness. That is always one of the outcomes of the conference: from the hugs, and the cheers, and the smiles, and that engaged collaborative spirit; we are all part of a community that is out serving and advocating for you and we want people to leave knowing they are part of something bigger and not solely operating in their individual spheres.

Dr. Norman: And even if that connectedness looks like we’re under masks and we’re not hugging but instead fist bumping, we are still together, sharing in that feeling of being together, after having entered three days prior, feeling separated.

Managers are still Becoming Managers

Joe Carrico, Vice President of Human Resources and Safety at Crider Foods

A human resources executive moved up the corporate ladder. Now he’s helping everyone else come up with him.

Gallup found that for every ten employees at a large company, there is approximately one manager. Management is the backbone of any organization, and a good manager position is easily sought after. A manager’s role isn’t necessarily a picturesque corporate playground as your typical Hollywood movie may present it. You’re not locked away at the top floor of a penthouse office suite signing your name on paperwork for 40 hours a week, nor do you want to be. A manager has the unique opportunity to bring a team together, support the individuals that use their elbow grease from nine to five, and keep the workplace fair and healthy.

The traits that make up an ideal manager aren’t natural-born gifts or learned overnight. A manager plays by an ever-changing book and uses their experiences (both good and bad, old and new) to empathize with their team and lead by example. You may be a manager by title, but the goalpost to become a good manager always moves further away from you. To reap the rewards of being a manager, you have to keep running toward it, constantly evolving your methods to manage and updating your definition of leadership. Joe Carrico, the Vice President of Human Resources and Safety at Crider Foods, not only practices this, he teaches it.

Joe Carrico teaches Management Training to a class of seasoned and upcoming managers.

“I’m originally from Brazil, and I came to this country with very little English. I was fortunate enough to come with a retailer that brought me into the country, and I worked the back of the house in retail.” Joe Carrico’s goal was always to be in human resources. He knew he had to learn operations and work his way up. With over two decades of experience and high-end training from both Harvard and Cornell, Carrico has provided thousands of hours of practical real-world training for industry executives, managers, supervisors, and front-line employees for publicly traded and private companies. He believes every company’s greatest asset is the same thing: people. Twenty years of experience later, he was ready to pass on his experience.

“I was able to partner with Georgia Southern to come up with a program that will give you the skills necessary, whether you’re an experienced manager or a new manager, to lead: how to understand the different cultures and how to understand what their needs are in order to make them successful.” In the fall of 2021, Joe Carrico put his experience and his mentality to the test. He planned and taught a new twoday course on Georgia Southern University’s Statesboro campus: Real World Management Training. “You did a phenomenal job, you get promoted. Once you’re promoted, the question is: Now what? What do I do?”

Carrico’s course was designed to cover every critical aspect of management: effective communication, team building, handling complaints and frustrations, dealing with change. A room full of current and aspiring managers took Real World Management together in September of 2021, learning expertise from Carrico’s experience, taking notes from guest speaker and former Assistant Secretary of Labor Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., and sharing stories and ideas with fellow students.

Former Assistant Secretary of Labor Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., attended Management Training in 2021 as a guest speaker.

“The attendees in the class had something to contribute, and I really liked that I learned a lot from others,” said an attendee with 30 years in a utility background. A recently promoted manager who took the Real World Management course told us, “The class really taught us how to get to know employees. They’re not just with Georgia Southern to the person in the position. It’s enhancing my awareness of how to communicate with others.”

I was able to partner with Georgia Southern to come up with a program that will give you the SKILLS NECESSARY to LEAD.

The course wasn’t just a chance to reflect. It was a resource for new strategies to implement, as a director at a college told us. “Absolutely, I would utilize this in my business. It’s been refreshing, and I’ve learned many things.” Attendees praised Carrico’s experience, humor, and presence. There was never a dull moment with Real World Management.

After the success of Joe Carrico’s first Real World Management course, Georgia Southern University’s Division of Continuing Education is partnering with Carrico again to offer it in 2022. This time, the training will take place in Savannah, Georgia, one of the top travel destinations in the country. The two-day course will have a new afternoon reception where attendees can network and enjoy Savannah’s atmosphere before beginning their training. Registration for the next Real World Management course will open on Georgia Southern University’s Division of Continuing Education website.

LEGO Robots Come Alive

Instructor Dakota Paradice helps a camper program a LEGO robot.

LEGO® bricks are an all-time classic toy for both children and adults. Rated the number one toy by TIME magazine and many parents alike, the plastic toys are known for inspiring creativity and developing problem-solving skills in children. But did you know that LEGO bricks can be used to make robots?

In Summer 2020, Georgia Southern University’s Division of Continuing Education teamed up with Dakota Paradice to host a LEGO Robotics camp in Statesboro, Georgia. Elementary and Middle school children enjoyed learning the principles of robotics and programming, as well as putting these principles to work with the hands-on application of building and programming their own LEGO robot. Through development, field testing, and even competing in battles with the durable plastic computers, students learned practical applications of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) in a fun and interactive way. Boys and girls enjoyed this two day retreat from the hot summer sun to grow their minds and play with LEGO toys.

“I think the BIGGEST TAKEAWAY is a sense of PRIDE and a FOUNDATION of where they want to go forward with ROBOTICS.”

“We talk about how important it is for them as people to learn to use their senses, to get information, and what that information does to tell them to do something,” Paradice LEGO Robotics said about the course. He went on Instructor Dakota Paradice to draw a comparison between the plastic “skeleton” and computer “brain” of a robot and how it is similar to a human and how we interact with the world.

“The kids learn to talk to the robots through the programming language; they learn how to build the skeleton of it; and they learn how to manipulate different buttons to make different things happen.”

Two campers work together on their LEGO creation,

Next summer, Paradice hopes the new LEGO robots will encourage children to develop a greater interest in STEAM, saying, “I think the biggest takeaway is a sense of pride, and a foundation of where they want to go forward with robotics.”

A Jewel Retires from CE

It is bittersweet that we announce the retirement of Ms. Jewell “Judy” Hendrix, executive assistant to the director and an all-around amazing woman, effective Aug. 1. Over the past 30 years with the Division of Continuing Education (41 with the University), she has positively impacted countless lives—student, instructor and coworker alike. 

Whether working with the National Youth-At-Risk Conference, the Governor’s Conference and Model UN, among others, her favorite part of work has always been the people that she’s met along the way. “[It’s] the clients you get to work with, the partnerships and friendships you form.” Hendrix said. “As the years have passed, you see their families grow and change and you celebrate the happy times and mourn the sad times. I always enjoy the feeling of knowing that I have done my best and when a customer walks away with a smile on their face.”

Judy Hendrix, far right, at the 30th Annual National Youth-At-Risk Conference

Before joining the Division of Continuing Education in 1990, Hendrix served as senior secretary for the Department of Management in what was then the School of Business, where she began in 1979. In 1988, she was acknowledged for her outstanding contributions by then Georgia Southern Vice President, Harry S. Carter, and again in 1989 as one of Today’s Women in Bulloch County. “The Georgia Southern of 1979 is very different [from] the Georgia Southern of 2020 and we are living in unprecedented times. It is encouraging to see the way that our administrators, faculty and staff have come together to support the University and the community.”

This community—Statesboro and Bulloch County—is one that she has called home since she was 14 years old, when her family decided to move back to her parents’ hometown. She currently is involved with her church, working in their nursery, and has assisted with weeklong camps she says have “shaped and changed the lives of many young people.”

Judy Hendrix, age 6 (or 7).

Before calling Statesboro home, Hendrix spent her early years in the countryside of Acworth, Georgia where she and her family belonged to another tight-knit community. She fondly recalls swinging with her siblings on the neighbor’s giant tire swing, helping her parents tend the gardens, and taking care of the cows—especially Betsy—using the milk to make homemade butter.

Now, a few weeks before her retirement is official, she says she’s excited about the future. “I’ll continue to be faithfully involved in my church and its ministries. I’m looking forward to turning the page and following the path that the Lord has for me because he has promised that he will guide me and will never forsake me, and I can trust him in the sunshine and in the storm.”

Before she leaves Georgia Southern and settles into retirement, Ms. Judy wants to leave just one more nugget of wisdom. “Take time to enjoy the occasions, really enjoy time spent with parents and family, the joy of a child’s laughter, the wonder on their face, listen to the birds singing, smell the flowers, take a photo, enjoy a hug, share a whispered prayer, really listen, smile at a stranger, help when no one is looking, read a verse and savor the Lord speaking to you. Sing to your heart’s content, feel the sun’s rays on your face, enjoy the journey, you are never going to say, ‘I wish I would have worked more.’”

The mission of the Division of Continuing Education is to support Georgia Southern University’s commitment to extending the learning environment beyond the classroom to the communities it serves, promoting lifelong success by delivering multi-modal, multi-site and empowering opportunities for the individual. Our offerings are available online and in-person, designed to meet various cultural and generational learning needs and provide traditional and non-traditional learners with the flexibility needed to maintain a work-life balance.