DeKalb aims to expose, prepare students for growing logistics industry

A group of DeKalb County teachers toured Schneider Atlanta facilities as part of the MADE In DeKalb fellowship.

Credit: Decide DeKalb Development Authority

Credit: Decide DeKalb Development Authority

A group of DeKalb County teachers toured Schneider Atlanta facilities as part of the MADE In DeKalb fellowship.

When preparing DeKalb County students to enter the job market, teachers might focus a little more on the county’s fast-growing manufacturing, logistics and transportation industries going forward.

Several teachers are participating in a fellowship that highlights those sectors as vast employment opportunities for students. The inaugural MADE in DeKalb Educator Fellowship, a partnership by the Decide DeKalb Development Authority and WorkSource DeKalb, allows teachers to tour these facilities, talk to hiring managers and learn what skills they’re looking for in potential employees.

“It was awesome to be able to see firsthand the industries that are right here in DeKalb County where I work, where I live and where I teach students,” Tasheika Mason, a Stone Mountain High School teacher, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Teachers are given facility tours and then participate in collaborative meetings throughout the year. Mason, who has taught language arts and English as a second language for the past 12 years, is among three Stone Mountain High teachers to participate in the fellowship’s first cohort over the past week.

The site visits included Georgia Piedmont Technical College, WinCup, Hermeus, Sugar Bowl Bakery, Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute and Schneider National. Todd Jaden, Vice President of Associate Relations for Schneider, said logistics companies like his have a bevy of career paths.

“I think most people hear Schneider and they think the only opportunity is tied to truck driving, and that’s not the case,” he said, adding that drivers must be 21 years old.

In addition to long-haul trucking, Schnieder has large office, warehouse, maintenance, customer service and sales opportunities in addition to multiple STEM-based career paths, which often require further education after high school.

“It really is about exposing (students) to the variety of things that exist within the logistics industry and helping to, quite frankly, recruit folks for us,” Jaden said.

It's Day #3 for the MADE IN DEKALB Educator Fellowship, and the cohorts visited Schneider Atlanta. Known for their...

Posted by Decide DeKalb Development Authority on Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Home Depot announced three new distribution centers that would come to DeKalb this year, creating roughly 1,000 jobs. Chamblee is also poised to get a large Amazon package storage and delivery warehouse next year. Sugar Bowl Bakery, which recently expanded to Tucker, also hired hundreds of people for roles in production, sanitation and maintenance.

Mason said she can incorporate her experience into her lesson plans, specifically her school’s senior capstone project.

“I can now create a scenario and say you’re an employee at Sugar Bowl Bakery and you have to write a memo to your fellow coworkers to explain what the procedure is going to be for packaging the madeleines,” Mason said. “And then use that to help them learn how to write an expository text or an information text. It’s something real.”

MADE In DeKalb is an abbreviation for Manufacturing, Automation, and Distribution Emerging in DeKalb. Jaden said those emergency industries will remain employment opportunities for young professionals in DeKalb for decades.

“Logistics isn’t going anywhere. This business has been around (since) the horse-and-buggy days, and it’ll be around as we move toward autonomous vehicles,” Jaden said. “It is a longstanding industry and there will be employment opportunities for people going forward.”