State School Superintendent candidate Allen Fort, left, chats with Dougherty County School System Director of Instruction and Curriculum Ufot Inyang at the DCSS administration building on Friday. Fort, the Quitman County superintendent of schools, is running to replace John Barge, who is stepping down to run against Gov. Nathan Deal. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — State School Superintendent candidate Allen Fort says part of the process of education is learning what you don’t want to do in life.
As a masters candidate at Valdosta State University, Fort earned money as a part-time grave digger. The lessons learned? When you reach a certain point, quit digging, and always carry a stool with you so you can climb out of the hole.
Currently the superintendent of the Quitman County School system, Fort said his experience is just another example of life itself as an education.
A native of Americus, Fort finds himself in a crowded Republican Primary field to replace State Superintendent John Barge, who is stepping down to run against Gov. Nathan Deal. That primary is set for May 20.
“I am a career educator and I understand education, teaching and finances … I have walked the walk” Fort said, who was stumping Friday in Albany, said. “I’m from Southwest Georgia and I have been around the state. But If I get a call from Pelham, I’ll know where it is and that I care about it.”
Fort began his teaching career in the Lee County School system in 1975, and taught later at Blackshear and Westover high schools and later at Valwood School. He then moved into administration, serving as principal at Rabun County, Statesboro and Gordon Central high schools. He worked as a school improvement specialist with the Georgia Department of Education for five years before taking over the Quitman school district in 2011.
“It is incumbent upon us to always support teachers to be steady in providing consistent, rigorous instruction, following norms as set forth by high-standard curricula and practices, yet be encouraged and spirited in finding new and innovative ways to make teaching fun, varied and exciting,” Fort said. “The ultimate goal is to create an enthusiastic learner who sees purpose in the curriculum, a valid reason of why I am here and who sets a path toward success and achievement upon graduation.”
Fort asserts that education should be a collaborative effort among schools, business, and economic development officials.
“We need to work closely with local colleges, tech schools, government organizations and economic development officials to find jobs for our young people after they graduate. We need to ask ourselves ‘what skills are we teaching and do they translate to the work force?’” Fort asked. “Look at the demographics of Southwest Georgia. A lot of our graduates need to go to work immediately to provide for their families. The question is are we actually providing them with the necessary skills to get those jobs?”
Fort then expanded that line of thought
“Upon graduation from high school, every student should have skills and be prepared for moving forward in their young life. No student should graduate from high school without a destination, whether it is the military, work or some type of college,” he said. “Every school, at every grade level, should feel a compelling responsibility to prepare a child to move up, move forward and move on with a real opportunity to be able to improve their lives daily.”