• November 7, 2023

Global Impact Academy, Fulton County Schools

Georgia CTI’s mission is to provide meaningful transition activities through leadership and employability experiences for students with disabilities in grades 9-12 identified through career, technical, and agricultural education courses in order to increase postsecondary outcomes. Many incredible Coordinators throughout Georgia are living this mission every day. Ms. Kathryn Shirey at Global Impact Academy is just one of them. With a focus on excellence in education, innovative leadership, and building employability skills in her students, Ms. Shirey is guiding them to reach their goals within her flourishing Georgia CTI program.

Ms. Kathryn Shirey is a seasoned professional with an impressive eight-year tenure as a CTI Board Advisor and nine years as a CTI Coordinator. Her educational journey is equally inspiring, holding both Bachelor's and Master's degrees from West Georgia, specializing in Special Education. Currently, she's furthering her academic pursuits in the School Improvement Doctorate program, focusing on Special Education and CTAE.

The Global Impact Academy itself opened its doors in the Fall of 2021, and under Ms. Shirey's visionary leadership, the CTI program is thriving. In fact, GIA proudly hosts not one, but two of our State Officers – Mekyelle and Malia, who serve as the President and Secretary for Georgia CTI. Keep reading to learn more about Ms. Shirey and how this young program is helping pave the wave for students like Mekyelle and Malia- the leaders of tomorrow.

Listen along to this blog post
Kathryn Shirey

Ms. Kathryn Shirey:

What made you want to work in special education?

I am a student with learning disabilities. I experienced 1st hand how pivotal a special education teacher can be, both positively and negatively, so I wanted to add to the positive special education teachers. I also wanted to show others with learning disabilities that they can achieve and be successful.

What led you to become a CTI Coordinator? How long have you been in that role?

The position came open at the school I was working at. The Principal, CTAE director, and the special education assistant principal asked me to consider the position based on my transition plan experience and track record of teaching the whole child. I fell in love with CTI and saw the positive impact it has for students with disabilities.

What is your favorite part of your job (as an educator and/or CTI coordinator)?

Seeing students gain the confidence to step outside of their comfort zone and grow as an individual.

What are some of the successes you’ve seen because of GeorgiaCTI?

The most impactful and obvious success I see is students who graduate, who were at risk of dropping out! Several parents and students tell me they honestly do not know if they would have walked across that stage if it had not been for CTI.

What are your favorite events that Georgia CTI hosts?

Without a doubt, my favorite event is the State Leadership Conference! Watching the students grow when preparing and participating is incredible! The connections formed during the event are second to none! I get to see the students present their work and participate in the interviews with industry professionals and I also get to see them just be teens. We play basketball, we eat together, we roast marshmallows, and even dance!

Which events will your students be attending this year with Georgia CTI?

We will be attending any and every event that Georgia CTI holds! So far, we have attended Emerging Leaders and the Fall Rally. We are registered for FLC (Fall Leadership Conference) and are already planning for a day at the Capitol, a day with the Hawks, and of course, the State Leadership Conference.

Which careers have your students entered into after high school?

My students have gone into nearly every sector of employment: Firefighter, 911 dispatch operator, nurse, home health, automotive tech, manufacturing, small business owner, working in human resources, education, and childcare, to name a few.

Is there a quote that motivates you?

““Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston Churchill

What are you reading right now?

Right now, I am reading, well, listening to the audiobook ADHD 2.0 by Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey.

Mekyelle, CTI State President

Mekyelle, CTI State President:

What made you want to run for CTI State Officer?

Because I love people, and I wanted to share my goal of people being treated equally and accepted as they are! I also wanted to help spread the message of CTI and help it grow!

What made you want to run for CTI State Officer?

Because I love people, and I wanted to share my goal of people being treated equally and accepted as they are! I also wanted to help spread the message of CTI and help it grow!

What has been the most fun part of being a State Officer?

Getting to meet and know more people from across the state of Georgia, other students with and without disabilities, people from industry, business, and legislation.

What has been the most challenging part?

Managing my school workload and my state officers' duties.

Who do you look up to in your family and why?

My mom. She has shown me that she can do things that people told her she couldn’t do. Not only does she do those things, but she goes above and beyond! That shows me that I can do hard things too!


Malia, CTI State Secretary:

What’s your favorite book or what are you reading right now?

My favorite book is Hidden Figures by Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi, and Margot Lee Shetterly. Right now, I am only reading college applications, scholarship prompts, and my school work lol.

What do you think other people (students and teachers) should know about Georgia CTI?

Georgia CTI is an organization that helps students with disabilities become successful in anything that they put their minds to and achieve their goals!

Is there a quote that motivates you?

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” - Harriet Tubman