Intro by John Ahmann, President & CEO, Westside Future Fund

This week’s guest column is by Sandra Bush, a longtime resident of the Booker T. Washington neighborhood. Earlier this year, Sandra provided the devotion for the January 18th Transform Westside Summit where she touched on her family’s rich history in the Booker T. Washington neighborhood – including her home which has been in her family for more than 80 years. You can watch Sandra’s remarks via a replay of our Facebook livestream, starting at the 4:00 minute mark. []. Sandra is an active leader in her neighborhood community association, and I personally came to know her during the planning process for the Westside Land Use Framework Plan []. 

Besides her commitment to her neighborhood, Sandra cares passionately about how career technical education can offer individuals a pathway to self-sufficiency and to building a better life. Cradle-to-career education is one of the four impact areas that informs Westside Future Fund’s holistic strategy to help revitalize the Historic Westside and help improve the quality of life for residents. Atlanta’s strong economy is making more technical education jobs available and that’s great news for Westside residents who are looking to upskill their training for better paying jobs. I am grateful for Sandra’s leadership and the insights she shares as a retired educator who has seen first-hand the difference that a career technical education can make for students and their families. 

Don’t forget to register to and join me at the next Transform Westside Summit on July 19 with the Atlanta Police Foundation. []

By Sandra Bush, Retired Family and Consumer Science Professional and Westside Resident

The Westside, the southside, the SWAT… we have been defined by others. Who are “the others”? Non-governmental agencies, non-profits, Federal, State and local governing bodies, etc. My statement is made in love for a community of legacy residents, their heirs, and newcomers to the city and State. Our communities contain beautiful green spaces, lovely tree canopies, parks and recreational spaces, lovely homes, whimsical homes, historical homes, postsecondary institutions, libraries, churches, financial institutions, HBCU graduates, Ivy League graduates, corporate employees, retirees, educators, family-owned businesses, and yes, blight and crime. The last two descriptors are not limited to just the westside of the city.  Just view the local news each day.

The Westside Future Fund is to be commended for addressing major impact areas affecting educational¸ housing and career opportunities for the residents in these communities. However, yes there is always a “but” or “however” in projects like these.  Community engagement becomes the focal point of addressing despairing statistics within the neighborhoods. Citizen input is crucial; democracy cannot exist without the citizens expressing their points of view and taking appropriate steps to solidify action. Community resident inclusion is crucial to the Westside Future Fund mission and its long-term impact on the Westside neighborhoods.

What are the choices to uplifting a community fighting challenges to economic well-being? Consider Career and Technical Education (CTE), a tried and true pathway to economic well-being. The CTE pathway had its beginnings as early as 1876, coming of age in 1926 “The first mass acceptance of career and technical education came after World War I and the movement spread in the years that followed. Career and technical education expanded to include adult education and retraining citizens to re-enter the workforce. World War II caused a surge in career and technical education as technical skills were needed for defense purposes. “In conversations with adults that completed high school in the 60’s and 70’s the remarks always include poor academic performance in urban schools. “They, meaning school systems, should bring back Vocational Education into the classroom.” I inform them that Vocational Education never left, the name was just changed to meet the demands of a global economy. CTE continues a transformation today, at multiple levels, to meet the needs of a global workforce.  As a Family and Consumer Science Professional I have witnessed the transformation of families, single and two-parent, that received Career and Technical Education training at the high school and postsecondary levels. Thanks to strategic partnerships and our advisory committee members the training led to economic improvement in their lives, providing a nonsubsidized income. The examples are too numerous to mention in this article.

CTE is not the only pathway to economic self-sufficiency, but it is a start. It is a discipline that serves in school students as well as dropouts. During my active days as a CTE professor at Atlanta Technical College my FACS colleagues and I taught consumer education classes to students enrolled on campus and at most of the correctional half-way centers in the city. We also taught culinary arts and interior decorating classes that launched small businesses.  Residents that take advantage of learning a career ready skill set, retooling a skill set, improving literacy levels, engaging in positive relationships, and practicing good health habits and family relations can make a difference in their communities.

Finally, a brief definition of a Family and Consumer Science (FCS) Professional: ” Family and Consumer Sciences is more than a program area within CTE-it is a global discipline and profession that extends into multiple practice settings including cooperative extension, business and industry, government, and health and human services. There are FCS colleges, schools and departments in postsecondary institutions across the country offering degrees in human development, nutrition, food science, counseling, fashion merchandising, interior design and more! Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Bronfedbrenner’s Ecological Systems theory provide a foundation to the work of FCS. It is from these theories (and others) that four concepts emerge as core components of the body of knowledge; basis human needs, individual well-being, family strengths, and community vitality. “ 

A Westside Future Fund partnership with a CTE training entity adds promise to the success of their mission


 Palombit, Reno A.  (2019) “A Framework for Leveraging Family and Consumer Sciences in CTE”, Techniques.. Connecting Education and Careers   

www. (2019)  “History of CTE “

 Recommended web sites:

Georgia Department of Education, Career Pathway Clusters

Technical College System of Georgia

 National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity

Association for Career and Technical Education 

Did You Know 2019?

Sandra Bush, Retired Family and Consumer Science Professional and Westside Resident

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