05/25/09 — Grant will make jobs program possible this summer for some at-risk students

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Grant will make jobs program possible this summer for some at-risk students

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 25, 2009 2:04 PM

Wayne County Public Schools has received a $146,063 "Summer Youth Employment Program" grant that will allow at-risk students to obtain jobs over the summer months.

The program will last seven weeks, June 22-Aug. 7, and provide jobs for up to 40 participants between the ages of 16 and 21, said Ken Derksen, public information officer.

It is being promoted in all eight of the public high schools and the Employment Security Commission, targeted toward getting teen parents, students with disabilities and high school dropouts into jobs.

"The grant pays their salaries," Derksen said, which equates to $7.25 an hour for a 40-hour workweek at no cost to participating employers.

Broken down further, students will actually work 32 hours, with the other eight hours, or one day a week, being spent in a classroom.

The program requires students to spend those eight hours working on subjects such as math, literacy and even job skills, Derksen said. Officials are hoping the initiative will pay off in terms of creating life-long learners and productive citizens.

"When someone receives a paycheck for their work, they develop a sense of pride for a job well done," said Dr. Steve Taylor, superintendent of schools. "They also develop a better understanding of the value of a dollar. These life lessons carry over into future jobs, as employees seek to better themselves professionally through continued education of training."

The grant was highly competitive, and one the district was fortunate to receive, Derksen said.

Applications for candidates are due by Tuesday. Candidates must meet some income requirements and have at least one of the following barriers: Deficient in basic literacy skills, school dropout, homeless, a runaway or foster child, pregnant or parenting or have a disability.

Erlene Brogden, career and technical education lead teacher, wrote the local grant application. Its receipt is just one more example of the ways the district is trying to provide work-based learning opportunities to students.

"Our district's career and technical education department works to help prepare students to be globally competitive in the 21st century economy through programs such as career academies, chapter organizations and the apprenticeship program, to name a few," Ms. Brogden said. "We hope this summer employment program will encourage student participants to take advantage of other WCPS programs that can better prepare them for work or post-secondary education."

Applications for the program are available online at www.waynecountyschools.org, and can be turned in at Goldsboro High School, to the attention of Dr. Wilber Brower.

Individuals selected will also be required to take an assessment to measure math and reading levels.