Ignite College and Career Academy 903 South Georgia Tech Parkway, Americus, GA 31719 (229) 931-8500

Ignite College and Career Academy fuels the dreams and future career prospects for our high school students in Sumter County, Georgia. Ignite helps them assess their passions, determine career pathways that will enable them to turn passions into careers, and give them the skills they need either to start work upon graduation from high school or to get a head start on post-secondary studies.


Our College and Career Academy (CCA) Steering Committee kicked-off its efforts in March 2017 in Sumter County. This partnership between Sumter County Schools, One Sumter (Sumter County’s nonprofit Economic Development foundation), South Georgia Technical College, Georgia Southwestern State University, the Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, and the Sumter County Development Authority supports a new model of experiential learning that accelerates the development of a quality and capable workforce.

The Steering Committee visited CCAs with strong track records in Newnan-Coweta County, LaGrange-Troup County, Albany-Dougherty County, and Macon-Bibb County. Industry leaders and educational professionals began the rigorous process of identifying career pathways for students, understanding financial mechanisms and governing structures, and pursuing the critical relationships with Sumter County’s business community to create the backbone of this new education model.

Our Mission

Ignite’s mission is “to ignite the aspirational spirit of students, inspiring and empowering them to become leaders in a world-renowned workforce that will impact generations of learners and workers.”

By December 2018, the Technical College System of Georgia approved a
$3 million grant to establish Ignite CCA, and in June 2019 there was a groundbreaking ceremony for Ignite College and Career Academy and the new Sumter County High School. In June 2020, Dr. Don Gilman was hired as the CEO of Ignite.

Ignite’s new facility is expected to open in Fall 2021.

Ignite College and Career Academy is a dedicated, 120,000 square-foot facility being constructed
on eight acres shared with the new Sumter County High School campus.

The School

Our initial location is a dedicated wing of the new Sumter County High School, across the street from South Georgia Technical College and surrounded by Sumter County’s industrial park. Ignite will open in August 2021.

Career Coaching

70 of Ignite’s business partners have already volunteered to support middle school and high school students through organized career counseling and mentoring programs. Ignite is actively recruiting additional volunteers who will undergo appropriate training.

This career coaching program allows students and their families to have access to all relevant documents and options for each student – including YouScience results – on a smartphone.

The result is one-stop access to see and improve a student’s 10-year college-to-career plan.

Skills Development

Ignite College and Career Academy’s business partners worked with Ignite to determine at least 87 major job titles that drive our region’s economic need and the skills those job titles require. Ignite actively trains high school students for these in-demand careers, such as welding, construction, automotive repair, culinary arts, engineering, agriculture, and many others.

In some cases, students may be able to earn certification from South Georgia Technical College, making them instantly employable. In addition, students have the chance to become industry certified in some careers.

Dual Enrollment

Ignite College and Career Academy partners with both South Georgia Technical College and Georgia Southwestern State University to provide students with the opportunity to earn college credits for FREE while still in high school. Dual Enrollment allows students to save tens of thousands of dollars on college costs and potentially reduce the time it takes to earn a post-secondary degree by one or more years at no cost to students or parents.

Board of Directors

  • Eshonda Blue (Chair)
  • Innovative Senior Solutions
  • Brandi Lunneborg (Vice Chair)
  • Phoebe Sumter Medical Center
  • Rene Smith (Secretary)
  • Sumter EMC
  • Chris Saunders (Treasurer)
  • NEOS Technologies, Inc.
  • Matt Berry
  • CB Farms, LLC / Dixie Lix Industries, Inc.
  • Josh Drew
  • Sumter County Schools
  • Andrea Ingram
  • South Georgia Technical College
  • David Jenkins
  • Georgia Southwestern State University
  • Tammye Pettyjohn Jones
  • Clay Jones Builders, Inc.
  • David Kuipers
  • South Georgia Technical College
  • Don Porter
  • Georgia Power Company
  • Dr. Neal Weaver
  • Georgia Southwestern State University

Our Staff

Dr. Donald Gilman, CEO



Teacher Name Email Phone Extension Pathways Taught
Sumter County Schools
1SG Seth Howell showell@sumterschools.org 8783 JROTC LET1 and 2
Barbara Baisden-Mitchell RN bbaisdenmitchell@sumterschools.org 8789 Patient Care Fundamentals, Pharmacy of Operations, Work-Based Learning
Alicia Green agreen1@sumterschools.org Marketing Management
Nancy Green ngreen@sumterschools.org 8790 Culinary
Ethel Morris-Shaw etshaw@sumterschools.org Engineering Technology
Pamela Harvey pharvey@sumterschools.org Business Management and Administration
Frederick Mohl fmohl@sumterschools.org 8594 Maintenance and Light Repair (Automotive)
Amanda Sumner asumner@sumterschools.org Digital Design, Web Design, Introduction to Digital Technology
Ben Pope bpope@sumterschools.org 8594 Agriculture Mechanics Systems, Horticulture/Mechanical Systems
Tamara Coley tcoley@sumterschools.org Business Management and Administration
Dr. Keywa Mathews kmathews@sumterschools.org Business Management and Administration
Sekemia Caldwell-Johnson scaldwell@sumterschools.org Early Childhood Education
Sarinda L. Woodson swoodson@sumterschools.org Culinary Arts/ Early Childhood Education
SFC Marshall kmarshall@sumterschools.org JROTC LET1
LTC David Cook dcook@sumterschools.org 8782 JROTC LET 3 and 4
Shaquita Ingram singram@sumterschools.org Allied Health and Medicine
Josh Drew Jdrew@sumterschools.org 8510 Career, Technical, Agricultural Education Director
Dr. Donald Gilman dgilman@sumterschools.org 8542 CEO Ignite College and Career Academy