Gov. Deal announces 2017 Technical College System of Georgia student and instructor of the year

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the state’s top technical college student and top technical college instructor for 2017. Skylar Huggett of Savannah Technical College received Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) and Ashley Strong-Green of Augusta Technical College received the 2017 Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction.

“Georgia is fortunate to have a strong technical college system that molds a workforce capable of filling the demands of an ever-evolving economy,” said Deal. “Enthusiastic students like Ms. Huggett put forth the hard work and exemplary performance that makes the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) so successful, and devoted instructors such as Ms. Strong-Green guide students on their journey to success. My congratulations and best wishes to the award winners, and I am confident that they will be outstanding ambassadors for the technical college system in the coming year.”

The GOAL program, now in its 46th year, recognizes the most outstanding technical education students at each of the 22 TCSG colleges and the technical division at Bainbridge State College. The Rick Perkins Award, now in its 27th year, highlights excellence in technical instruction. As award winners, Huggett and Strong-Green will make public appearances as ambassadors for technical education during the next year, including meeting with Deal and addressing the Georgia General Assembly.

Each year, selection for the GOAL and Rick Perkins Award begins with the naming of the top technical education student and instructor at each college, as well as the technical division at Bainbridge State College. Regional competitions follow and narrow the field to nine finalists for each award. In April, the nine finalists are interviewed in Atlanta by a panel of judges. At each step, student finalists are scored on their academic accomplishments, leadership qualities, involvement in their local communities and future aspirations. Benchmarks for instructors include teaching experience, innovation in the classroom, leadership and civic involvement.

“The passion that Skylar and Ashley have for technical education shines through, not just in their remarks and in their work, but in their lives,” said TCSG Commissioner Gretchen Corbin. “Their passion is contagious, and each has a remarkable ability to inspire their peers and motivate all of us to greater achievements. There are no better advocates for technical education than our students and our instructors, and that includes not only Skylar and Ashley, but each and every one of our GOAL and Rick Perkins college winners.”

Skylar Huggett is a welding and joining technology student from Savannah Technical College whose goal is to weld in a job that contributes to Georgia’s infrastructure. She received the GOAL program’s grand prize: a new, made-in-Georgia 2017 Kia Optima, courtesy of Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia and delivered by Ed Voyles Kia of Chamblee.

“Skylar is the perfect student to represent Georgia’s technical college students as the 2017 GOAL winner,” said Dr. Kathy Love, president of Savannah Technical College. “She represents the thousands of students who come through our doorways each year, seeking something other than the traditional pathway to higher education and find their true passions among our technical college programs. As Skylar says, because she found her love of welding, her future is on fire. I could not be prouder of her.”

Ashley Strong-Green, a general education instructor at Augusta Technical College, is the winner of the 2017 Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction and a $1,000 cash award. In her acceptance remarks, Strong-Green cited the integral role technical education plays in contributing to the economy of the state and the quality of life of Georgia citizens.

“We are very proud of Ashley. She has been a leader and an innovator since the day she was hired,” said Augusta Technical College President Terry Elam. “She is dedicated and student-centered, and she personifies the academic excellence and high standards of the Technical College System of Georgia.”

The first runner-up for the technical education student of the year was Gisella Brust, a radiologic technology student at Gwinnett Technical College. For the technical education instructor of the year, the first runner-up was Charles Avery, an emergency medical services instructor in the technical division of Bainbridge State College.

About the Technical College System of Georgia

The 22 colleges of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) are Georgia’s top resource for skilled workers. TCSG offers world-class training in 600 associate degree, diploma and certificate programs to students who are trained on state-of-the-art equipment by instructors who are experts in their fields. The system also houses Georgia’s Office of Adult Education, which promotes and provides adult literacy and education programs, including the GED testing program, throughout the state. In addition, TCSG partners with companies through Quick Start, the nation’s top customized workforce training program, and through its individual colleges, to work with local industry to provide workforce and training solutions. For more information, visit

Jen Talaber Ryan

Alyssa Botts

#1737 | April 13, 2017

Savannah Technical College serves Coastal Georgia with quality, market-driven technical education with campus locations in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties. Serving more than 10,000 credit and non-credit students annually, Savannah Tech offers nearly 150 different instructional programs in Aviation Technology, Business and Professional Services, Industrial Technology, and Health Sciences in addition to Adult Education classes, industry-specific training and continuing education. The College serves as an economic and community development partner for the region, offering corporate and customized training and assessment programs for business and industry.

Savannah Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, diplomas and technical certificates of credit. Questions about the accreditation of Savannah Technical College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (