The new generation finds work experience with grant

Dec 17, 2013
Photo by: Donated photos REAL LIFE WORK EXPERIENCE — Pictured is Logan Arrington, 20, now a temporary full-time employee with Town of Waynesville, due to the grant.

Sometimes a young person needs is a chance to exhibit their work skills, their gifts and talents. Logan Arrington, a 2011 high school graduate from Haywood County School’s Alternative Learning Center found that opportunity by participating in the New Generations Careers student internship program provided through a grant from the NC Rural Center.

“I wouldn’t have had a chance after high school if I had not been selected to try out the job through the internship with Alternative Learning Center,” said Arrington, who participated in a paid school to work experience with the Town Of Waynesville.

After high school graduation, Arrington soon realized that due to financial needs and his housing situation, he would not have the funding to attend college right away and would need to work. Arrington graduated from high school, but did not have funding to attend college right after high school graduation. Alternative Learning Center, a recipient of the NC RURAL’s New Generations Career grant, thought Arrington would be a good candidate to put to work.

“The initiative encourages young people 16 to 22 years of age to experience their career interests through internships and also by providing employability skills training,” said Caroline Williamson, Alternative Learning Center program coordinator, who spear headed the project. “By giving students an opportunity to participate in student internships with local businesses, they learn not only what opportunities are available here in their own hometowns, but hopefully will make Haywood County their home, and contribute to our community.”

ALC was one of the only high schools in the state to receive the grant out of 13 recipients across North Carolina. The program, which gives disengaged students an opportunity to earn credits to graduate with a Haywood County high school diploma, received $100,000 in September 2012 to provide career exploration through paid internships and employability skills training.

“Work experience, paid or unpaid, provides students with opportunities to apply and test things they learn in school in a real-life environment,” said Kyle Ledford, director of Alternative Learning Center Director. “Helping them to understand the relevance of their school work and to ultimately see that what they do in school is important.  Bringing students to a place where they can understand that critical connection between school and work was our goal for the New Generations Career grant.”

Over the past 18 months, the grant has helped students by giving them the opportunity to both learn and to earn. Since September 2012, the students have earned nearly $45,000 participating in grant sponsored work experiences, and for some, this money has helped sustain them, allowing them to come to school while providing for their needs at the same time.”

“The Alternative Learning Center partners with over 52 businesses in Haywood County who are willing to place a student to experience a “real life work environment,” said Williamson.” We have placed students in businesses such as local physician’s offices, pharmacies, retail, fast food establishments, restaurants, and Town of Waynesville’s recreation center, maintenance, and purchasing.”

Another unique aspect of the grant is the Youth Leadership Team formed to give students an opportunity to discover what businesses are here and what future jobs might be available to them after graduation from high school and college.  Mayor Gavin Brown chaired the group, which meets monthly with students and young people who live and work in Haywood County at Town Hall. Students from Alternative Learning Center, young business owners, and other high schools participate. Brown talks candidly with the students at the roundtable discussions and encourages them to find their own gifts and talents to find the job that will not only help them stay in the area but support them.

Students who have participated in the New Generations Careers grant also practiced interviewing skills with a panel of department heads with the Town of Waynesville, toured local industry including DELTEC Manufacturing in Asheville, and attended workshops in Work Ethics and resume writing during the 18-month program at ALC.

The Alternative Learning Center is a program through Haywood County Schools, which serves students 16 to 20 years of age, who have withdrawn from Tuscola High, Pisgah High, Central Haywood High School and are enrolled by a referral from their principal. Contact Ledford or Williamson for more information at 454-6590.

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