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Grant to help put students in careers
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South Effingham High School is one of 21 schools in the state to receive a $10,000 grant for work based learning in the school.

The pilot grants were awarded after representatives from other schools and the state Department of Education visited SEHS.

“We’re excited to be a pilot,” said Angela Wood, the career, technical and agricultural education director at SEHS. “It was an opportunity for our kids, for one thing, by allowing more of them to work in their areas. We also want to show off some of the things we are doing at South High by having people visiting.”

Officials will develop a model work-based learning program. Wood said the recommended model statewide is to have one work-based learning coordinator supervise all of the students participating in the various programs offered.

SEHS has offered the youth apprenticeship program for its students previously. The grant will allow the school to also offer employability skill development, internship/practicum, clinical and co-op opportunities along with youth apprenticeship.

Wood said the goal of the program is to have more students involved in work based learning, and to help all students
develop a post secondary education plan.

Becky Truluck said the program should also help students choose the classes they need to take in high school that will relate to their career goals.

“Part of what Ms. Truluck will be doing is if a student decides they want to be a game warden, we want to help the child see all of the qualifications it takes to be a game warden, how much their potential income is and what classes you need to be taking in high school to prepare you,” Wood said.

“Like construction — construction uses a lot of mathematics. When they get on a real construction site they will see, ‘I’m doing a lot of measurement here. I’d better be concentrating in my math class because this is going to transfer over,’” Wood said. “Cosmetology’s thing is chemistry. If you’re going to be a cosmetologist, you better know something about chemistry.”

There are 36 students at the high school currently enrolled in work-based learning courses, and there are more than 50 students enrolled for the spring semester. There are students working in dental offices, pharmacies, elementary schools and other career areas.

Wood said the program will allow for students as early as ninth grade to begin considering the jobs in a field they are interested in.

She said the program will help better prepare students for what will come after high school and to keep students in school.

Wood said she doesn’t want parents to think the program is designed to peg students into a field in high school.

“We just want to show them the whole picture,” she said, “as many careers as we can possibly come up with in an area they are interested in.”

Wood said the program should be used to help students decide if the area they are considering pursuing is what they really want to do.

“We have a lot of students that are currently working, and it’s related to the course they’re taking at school, and they realize through that experience that’s not really what we want to be,” Wood said. “We feel like that’s a good thing, too. Statistics will tell you that a lot of people enter college and jump around, and it costs mom and dad a lot of money, and if we can let someone know right now this is not the career for me, that’s what we want to do.”

She said it is also a tool to help keep students in school through graduation.

“We’re just trying to do what’s best and help the kids succeed and graduate from high school,” Wood said. “That’s the number one thing —  you have to get that diploma before you can have a career, and we see this grant as a tool to help us reach more students because everyone wasn’t an apprentice.”

Students participating in the program, parents, employers and Truluck all sign an agreement outlining each party’s responsibilities during the time the student is participating. Students receive a grade for the work they do.

Wood said it is important for students to look at their place of work as their classroom. She said the student will have responsibilities at their jobs that will correspond with what they are supposed to learn during the semester.

Truluck works with the students to create a class schedule that incorporates the students work schedule.

She said there are a variety of ways scheduling works. Some students go to school the fist part of the day and work in the afternoon, while other students work in the morning and attend classes in the afternoon.

She said one student works in the morning, comes to school to take a class and then goes back to work.

Truluck said for each class period the student is out of school the student must work seven and a half hours a week.