Written by Jerry Durgan, Staff Reporter   

Job Corps Center Director Sam Kolapo leaving

After two years as center director of the Bamberg Job Corps Center, Mr. Sam Kolapo will leave to become the center director of the Gainesville, Fl. Job Corps Center, his resignation effective January 25.

“It is a better opportunity for me,” Mr. Kolapo said last week, “particularly that I’ve been able to complete most of the vision I had for the Bamberg Center.”

Two years ago, at the arrival of “Sam” as the Center’s director, the Center was struggling with enrollment, bad publicity, poor student retention and low performance, a serious lack of community involvement in the Center’s goals.

In 2006, the Bamberg Center rated as number 72 of 122 Job Corps centers, 112 to 122 centers in GED completions, 36th in vocational completions, and 118 of 122 centers in job placements.

Today, thanks to the direction of Mr. Kolapo and “a very dedicated and hard working staff,” the Center is now 13th in performance, 48th in GED completions, 90th in vocational completion rates, and placements at 59th of 122 centers. “We’ve got a good start, now,” Kolapo said. “The student culture has significantly changed. When you come here you don’t leave the same person that you were,” he grinned. “Enrollment is now full and we have a waiting list for students who want to come here.

“We’ve got a good advisory council and a great community relations council in operation and working in getting the community and businesses involved in our activities.

“I’m not leaving because my job is done here,” he said, “but we have excellent staff and good students. The new opportunity (at the Gainesville Center) is a challenge for me and I look forward to it. It’s a much larger center with its own problems for me to approach. I’ve really enjoyed working in the community and with a wonderful staff…I couldn’t ask for more or better.

No decision has yet been made for Kolapo’s replacement, but “I’ve recommended that someone in the current management team here be selected as the new center director. We now have a system in place that will keep the center upstream, so my leaving won’t change things. I certainly don’t see the Bamberg Center dropping in its overall performance,” he said. “We are now one of the best in the Job Corps region and the staff is determined to keep it there.”

Regrettably, there are a couple of things that he envisioned that he won’t see before he leaves. One is the new construction that is ongoing – a new vocational training building and a new gymnasium. The other is a new vocational choice, hi-tech computer program that will be implemented sometime in March.