01/07/11 — Job mentoring program hopes to link students with careers

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Job mentoring program hopes to link students with careers

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on January 7, 2011 1:46 PM

A new job mentoring program in development at Wayne County schools seeks local professionals and civic organizations to introduce high school students to the business world.

Doctors, lawyers, certified public accountants, government officials and others in similar fields are asked to volunteer their time guiding students in grades 9-10 through their first steps into the white-collar working world.

The idea is to give the students a taste of various jobs while providing life lessons and the encouragement of a mentor, with the goal of encouraging hard-working youths to pursue professional careers right here in Wayne County, organizer Carlyle Waters said.

"We want them to go to school and come back here," he said.

The program could also help improve students' attitudes and sense of self-worth, and encourage them to earn better grades, Waters said.

Waters and associate superintendent and county Commissioner Dr. Sandra McCullen held a planning meeting Wednesday with career and technical education lead teacher Sharon Gay and state Rep. Efton Sager to talk about developing the fledgling program.

"We want to give our students a chance to see what we have here in Wayne County," Mrs. McCullen said.

Job mentoring, as Waters envisions it, won't be for every student, but could have positive ramifications even for those not involved with the program as participants improve their own performance at home and at school.

The school system coordinates apprenticeships, job shadowing and internships, in addition to offering other programs such as the allied health class, giving students an opportunity to earn nursing assistant certification. But the job mentoring program would fill a different niche for students, particularly getting to a younger group who may not be legally old enough to pursue an apprenticeship-type position, Waters said.

By working with local civic groups and the school system, he hopes to eventually provide transportation and even professional clothing for program participants. Offering some kind of program completion certificate, or tying into the WorkKeys program or Wayne Community College offerings, could also be options, the group discussed.

The program is still in its earliest stages, and the first steps are finding a program administrator, and partnering with professional companies and individuals willing to spend time mentoring a student in the ways of the working world. The group hopes to get the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce member businesses involved with the program.

"The big thing is to be able to get the professionals on board," Sager said.

To volunteer for the program, or for more information, contact Ms. Gay at 705-6187.