SRTC Opens New Doors for City of Thomasville Employee

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In the spring of 1995, Jimmy Smith graduated from high school in Thomasville, Georgia. In the fall of the same year, he climbed on the back of a garbage truck, working for the city of Thomasville. 22 years later, he’s still going strong with the Solid Waste Department. Now a senior foreman, he’s quick to point out that he’s proud of the work that he and his team do. “I could easily be doing something else, but I choose to do this. I like what I do, it has taken care of my family and me for a long time. And, I’m good at it.” He may have moved into an air-conditioned office, but he still gets out and rides the collection trucks with his team. For him, it’s a chance to take care of the city that he loves. “It’s a service, and we treat it just like other services. We interact with our customers. We take care of people. Folks might tend to discount our job and think that we are ‘just’ picking up trash, but we are out there to make our city more beautiful, and the people of our town happy.”

Jimmy’s warm laugh, quick wit, and magnetic personality make it easy to see why he is well-liked by the people who work for him. When he’s out running routes with his team, he’s always listening to them. ”My mind is always on how I can make the experience more exceptional, both for the people we serve, and for the people I work with. I’m looking at our job from a worker’s point of view, also from a customer’s point of view. You never know where that next innovative idea can come from. The guys and gals on the ground see things that I can’t see from an office. They notice things and suggest changes that make all of our jobs more outstanding, and the service that we offer our customers even better.”

Now, Jimmy’s sights are set on growing in his profession again. “Manage, budget, plan, organize, lead… I know how to do these things because I’ve learned from the best. I have a great teacher in the Solid Waste Department’s longtime director, Nate Tyler.” As Mr. Tyler began nearing retirement, Jimmy started to understand that his experience and commitment would only take him part of the way to advancing in his career. “I am ready to move forward. Yes, I have 20+ years of experience, but I need the paperwork to back me up.”

Being out of school for over half his life, Jimmy took the daunting task of choosing a school very seriously. Weighing several deciding factors, including cost and convenience, he decided to attend Southern Regional Technical College at the Thomasville campus. “After two decades of being away from school, Southern Regional broke me in and have been very gentle with me!” Being able to take classes locally and in-person was important to Jimmy. He has been able to continue to work full time, take classes, and spend time with his wife and four daughters. “Besides marrying my wife and growing our family with her, choosing to go to SRTC feels like the best choice I’ve ever made. I love this school to death.”

Jimmy is pursuing an AAS degree in Business Management, and looks to complete his classes by the end of this year. Because of his years of experience in customer satisfaction, he recognizes SRTC’s commitment to their students. “As a student, you are customer, and they give you the best service possible. But they also treat you like a friend. You build a relationship with the faculty and staff. These teachers are not just here to get paycheck. If a student is struggling in a class, teachers will work after hours to help them pull those grades up. You don’t get that same attention from a huge college.”

Mr. Neil Clements is Jimmy’s college advisor, and he recognized something unique right away. The first time I met Jimmy, I knew that there was something that made him stand out from the crowd. He was easy to talk to and very outgoing. He is also a good student in the classroom. He asks questions, he answers questions and has become a leader in the classroom. He is a natural when it comes to speaking in front of a group. I have enjoyed very much working with Jimmy and I feel that he is going to be very successful in his career. People just seem to be drawn to Jimmy. I have seen Jimmy walk into a room and very quickly, he has introduced himself to the group and is able to add to their conversation.” Mr. Clements so believed in Jimmy’s potential that he nominated him to be this year’s SRTC GOAL student. GOAL, or Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership, is a high honor, but not one that Jimmy was seeking out. He remembers asking Mr. Clements what he was being actually nominated for. Once Mr. Clements began talking to him about the award, Jimmy was thrilled. “I realized that this was another chance to help others. I would get to be an ambassador for this school. I promised Neil that I’d give it my best, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Jimmy feels very confident about his education and his career these days. “I’m achieving and reaching levels that I never thought I would. Experience plus education will make me a very powerful team player. I know that having that degree will make the fireworks go off on my resume!” His servant’s heart is guiding him towards even more public service in the future, with his eye on a seat on the Thomasville City Council. He has, however, already won the approval of the six women in his life that mean the most to him. “My wife is ecstatic for me, I’m able to provide a positive example for my daughters, and my mama is proud of her oldest boy. And man, that means the whole world to me!”

SRTC offers over 148 degree, diploma, and certificate programs that are designed to get you quickly into your desired career, and 27 general education courses that transfer to University System of Georgia institutions and 19 private colleges and universities in Georgia. SRTC has instructional sites located in Ashburn, Cairo, Camilla, Moultrie, Thomasville, Tifton, and Sylvester for the convenience of our students. The College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. For the most up-to-date information on registration, class dates, and program offerings, log on to www.southernregional.edu or call (888) 205 – 3449. For more information about the GOAL recognition, please visit the TCSG website: https://tcsg.edu/goal.php