FHS Students Get Workplace Experience
February 27, 2017
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Flushing High School students have the opportunity to work in day cares, pharmacies, and police stations and school credit for it. They learned about this and other aspects of Career Technical Education (CTE) during February 24th assemblies. Nicole Lord, Flushing’s Career Development Facilitator/ CTE Director/ Work-Based Learning Coordinator, led the assemblies and explained the diverse program, which consists of classes meant to prepare students for the workplace through hands-on experience. These classes include Accounting, Business Management Administration, Marketing, Computer Animated Design, Engineering, and the Work-Based Learning Program through which students are released from school early to gain credit by working real jobs. Lord’s PowerPoint explained the merits of various programs, and the finer points of Work-Based Learning (encompassing Unpaid Learner and paid Co-op), but she says the principle really isn’t that complicated. “CTE, to me, is just an extension of opportunities for students that is open and available to any type of student,” Lord synthesizes, “We have everything from Advanced Placement students to special needs students. It’s truly open and available to anyone.”
Though CTE in general may be open to all students, Lord can be pickier with who she lets into her Work-Based Learning Program, only accepting 40 students a year. She looks for students “who are wanting to work. They might not have all the employability skills, but they have to have the basics; they have to demonstrate attendance, work ethic, and dependability… Then (employers) can teach them the other skills needed.” Many students do not realize they possess those skills, or work experience, Lord says, but “Babysitting, that’s the workplace. Mowing lawns, that’s the workplace. Taking care of siblings, that’s the workplace.” Anything demonstrating reliability, dedication, and work ethic can impress employers and help Lord place students in jobs, which can range from restaurant host to Police Department receptionist.
To find Work-Based Learners the best job possible, Lord tries to look at the qualities of individual students, as she did with her daughter, FHS senior Mackenzie Lord. Mackenzie works both as an unpaid learner in the CTE office and, through Co-op, as a receptionist at Flint Area School Employees’ Credit Union. As a receptionist, Mackenzie greets clients and performs various clerical task, an experience she describes as “amazing.” She has not only gained work experience, but says “(CTE) made me a more outgoing person; I was never able to talk on the phone and now I don’t have a problem with that or talking face-to-face with strangers. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without this job.” Because of her experiences, Mackenzie plans to pursue a career in marketing.
Mackenzie’s fellow senior Erika Whitcomb is also certain of her career plans due to CTE. Erika is one of two participants in the brand-new Teacher Cadet Unpaid Learner program which, after two weeks of book work, sent her into real Flushing classrooms to learn how to be a teacher. She will be switching classrooms every four weeks to get a sense of different ages and subjects and is currently in Alyssa Fotenakes’s classroom at Seymour Elementary. Erika works with individual students, helps create lesson plans, and even teaches the class; Teacher Cadets are essentially co-teachers, she explains.
Erika tried a different teaching program last year, but “it was not what I signed on for, but I’m really enjoying (Teacher Cadet)… it’s more hands-on and the work seems more beneficial.” Lord agrees not every program or placement is perfect, but students are made to complete the semester for the sake of the skills they will learn. “They still get those transferable skills,” Lord explains, “There are skills you need no matter where you’re working; you’ve got your teamwork, your communication skills, your problem-solving. I can take those with me wherever I work.”
Lord encourages all students interested in Career Technical Education to contact her with any questions.