Chattahoochee Chatter: Saban visit slows traffic downtown

May 7, 2014 

Let's start this week's Chatter with a little traffic jam.

If you were briefly stuck in traffic Tuesday afternoon on the south end of downtown, blame Coach Nick Saban.

The Alabama football coach was in Columbus to speak to a leadership group at TSYS.

It was top secret and closed to the public, though some of the folks in the room report the coach was an outstanding motivational speaker.

But the coach's movements were very public as he was brought to the Columbus Convention & Trade Center via a motorcade and left about 4 p.m. via police motorcade.

That's a pretty nice way to come and go. And I'm sure Auburn fans didn't mind if they got held up for a second or so.

•••

Something is missing right down the street. And we're not talking about the trees …

Something is missing off the old Iron Bank building at the corner of Broadway and 11th Street.

The unique four-sided clock at the corner of the building has been taken down by owner Buddy Nelms. Don't worry, it's coming back after it is refurbished, Nelms reports.

The clock is currently at a metal shop being repaired. There is no time frame for the work to be completed.

•••

Speaking of time. It's that time of the year again …

Here's some good news if you're graduating next Monday from Columbus State University or receiving a diploma soon from any other school of higher learning -- your odds of landing a job have gone up.

A new study from CareerBuilder and CareerRookie.com finds that 57 percent of employers say they plan to hire new college graduates, up from 53 percent last year and sharply higher than the 44 percent in 2010.

Still, the survey found, 24 percent don't believe academic institutions are adequately preparing students for positions needed within their companies or organizations.

The reasons:

• Too much emphasis on book learning instead of real world learning - 53 percent

• Their company needs a blend of technical skills and "soft" skills gained from liberal arts -- 35 percent

• Entry level roles are growing more complex -- 26 percent

• Not enough focus on internships/apprenticeships -- 16 percent

• Technology is changing too quickly for academics to keep up -- 16 percent

• Not enough students are graduating with the degrees their company

needs -- 10 percent

No matter: Good luck to all of you graduates out there in Chatterland.

•••

And don't forget, it's Teacher Appreciation Week.

Here's one teacher who has gone above and beyond for her students …

Kim Lester was named the 2013 Teacher of the Year in the Muscogee County School District when she taught at Britt David Magnet Academy. Now, she teaches at the St. Elmo Center for the Gifted. She has been one of the more outspoken Teachers of the Year, and her farewell speech at last week's Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation gala, where Brandy Sipling of Midland Academy was named the 2014 winner, was another example. Here's an excerpt:

"As you are well aware, the Muscogee County school system is undergoing dramatic realignment, and I've got to be honest with you. I'm not sure I understand the big picture yet, but that's OK. I trust. My focus is on my students and especially my friends who find themselves in professional limbo, not knowing where or what they will be teaching next year. But … every single time I ask one of my friends about the impending changes that are impacting them personally, they carry a positive attitude. One friend told me, 'If I go back into the classroom, I'll be perfectly happy, as long as I'm helping the kids.' Another told me that she didn't really want to leave her school, but working with other pre-K teachers as a team would certainly improve what she can offer her kids. You see, for teachers, it's all about the kids, and I'm so very proud of my friends for facing these changes without malice, because their priority is our children."

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