August 16, 2018
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
The program – Supply Chain Management – is new to Rutherford County Schools.
The instructors – Dawn Walters at Stewarts Creek High School and Lee Davenport at Blackman – are also new to the district.
However, both of them bring more than two decades of experience to their classrooms and a passion to launch a new study pathway that will provide participating students with an enormous upside of high-paying job opportunities once they enter the workforce in Rutherford County or beyond.
“We’re blazing a trail of a class that’s never been taught (in Rutherford County),” said Davenport, who later said graduates will stand apart from other applicants entering the workforce right out of high school.
Davenport added, “They’re going to come up with certifications and will have been through a three-part course. And I’ve already talked to the employers here locally and that’s what they’re yearning for — these kids who come out of these programs and already have a basis to work on because they have the core knowledge.”
The district is launching the program this year with a course called Foundations of Supply Chain Management and will offer a second course beginning with the 2019-2020 school year called Supply Chain I. Supply Chain II and a practicum opportunity for students to gain on-the-job training will then follow with the 2020-2021 calendar.
Students in the foundations class have either taken Marketing I or Introduction to Business as a pre-requisite.
The three-year program concludes with students receiving their Certified Logistics Technician certification.
Walters has 22 years of teaching experience.
She spent that time teaching Marketing I and II, Advertising and Entrepreneurship at White House High School, where she previously piloted a new business program.
Walters recently relocated to Smyrna and was planning to continue in her role, at White House, when she heard about the new positions with RCS.
“I was going to travel through Nashville every day because I was happy,” explained Walters, who changed her mind after meeting with Tyra Pilgrim, career and technical education coordinator for Rutherford County Schools.
“Upon learning about it, it became more interesting.”
Davenport brings an extensive 18-year career of workplace experience to his classroom.
He has served in various supply chain roles from logistics manager and distribution, to manufacturing to retail and eCommerce. He has sought out Dr. Cliff Welborn, an associate professor of management at Middle Tennessee State University, as a mentor.
“That’s really helping me out a lot in the classroom,” Davenport said.
Although Tennessee’s Department of Education defines the classroom standards, it is up to each of the instructors to map out their own coursework.
For instance, at Blackman, Davenport said safety is the biggest concern in the workplace, and so he is opening his course with a section dedicated to safety.
At Stewarts Creek, Walters said students will start with a class definition of “what we think supply management is” and then “learn how to create a source map.” She plans to use Starbucks as the model starting with cocoa farmers and tracing the supply chain all the way to a barista pouring a vanilla latte.
Walters said students will look at everything from growing and harvesting, to transporting, manufacturing and storing, to the final shipping and selling.
“Most students in the class do not even know what supply management is,” she said, “so that’s the first thing we have to conquer.”
Davenport added, “Yeah, it gives them an idea of what supply chain management is … from a macro perspective.”
This past summer, Davenport and Walters both participated in a five-day enrichment camp for supply chain management held at Middle Tennessee State University.
The camp was organized in conjunction with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce through its “Rutherford Works” initiative.
“They told me what a person was making with a four-year degree out of college,” said Walters, who is looking forward to recruiting more students into Supply Chain Management pathway and illustrating the high-pay, high-demand jobs available.
She jokingly added, “I asked if I could go back and get my degree.”
PHOTOS / KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT