Schools will drive the future economic success of community - North Atlanta Business Post
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Updated Jul 21 @ 11:21AM

Schools will drive the future economic success of community

By Geoff Smith

Those who know me know that I am passionate about improving our education systems. Those who know me well understand that the passion was initially born out of necessity and not choice: My wife, Brenda, is an art teacher. Her sister was an elementary school principal and now serves in an administrative position for Gwinnett County Public Schools. My mother was an elementary teacher for a time. It's no coincidence that when Greater North Fulton Chamber President and State Sen. Brandon Beach was out recruiting businessmen and women to join the Chamber's education committee, I jumped at the chance.

Today I serve as the committee's chairman and we work hard helping our local schools any way we can. Having a great school system is one of the strongest marketing tools our community can have when recruiting top businesses. I'm told it's one of the first questions asked by prospective corporations considering a relocation. Those businesses want to know that their community will continue to produce a strong and talented workforce. And they like the advantage they have when recruiting top executives from around the country who want their children to go to good schools. Here in North Fulton, we are truly blessed with the state's strongest set of schools.

U.S. News compiles an annual list of top high schools in the country. In Georgia, North Fulton's public schools pretty much dominate the top 10. If you take out the charter and magnet schools, the top six public high schools in the state are in North Fulton: Milton, Northview, Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Chattahoochee and Roswell.

For officials trying to lure businesses to the North Fulton area, that is a pretty strong list to throw on the table. Most of you who are reading are wondering why I think these schools need help. They need help because, when our state officials are out recruiting businesses to relocate to Georgia, we are not competing with other state schools — we are competing with the best schools in the country.

Our North Fulton schools are not resting on any laurels. The principals here are some of the hardest-working people in our community. They are always looking for ways to improve and they look to businesses for extra help. Sure, they like donations, but they also want volunteers to help tutor, businesses to sponsor and help with after-school clubs, businesses to lend their expertise so it can be directly folded into a class's curriculum, and businesses to lend their expertise in actually helping to run a school. It's important for a business to get closer to our students so they can see what all the studying and work is for. It's too easy for a student to see the subject matter and testing as an abstract activity. Letting them see what's going on in the workforce helps to root their learning in reality.

So wherever your business is located, try to find some time to reach out to one of your local schools and see how you can pitch in. If nothing else, it's a great marketing plan: Do good in front of your community. Many of these schools are great at promoting their businesses' good deeds to their parents and teachers.

Ultimately, improving your community's great schools makes your community stronger. More large businesses will want to move here, which will give small businesses here more opportunity to be successful. Our property values will go up because people will want to move here. Which means retailers will fight over space to be near us.

Personally, my reasons are more selfish. I have two elementary-aged boys. I just want them to learn the skills that will enable them to more easily compete and win whatever future opportunities they decide go for.

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