ON EDUCATING LARUE: Students may find permanent employment through school program

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By Ron Benningfield

 This school year, 11 LaRue County High School students – six seniors and five juniors – are spending the last two periods of their school day exploring the field of work by actually receiving training at local worksites.

They are participants in the Community Based Work Transition Program, designed for students with special needs to help them transition smoothly from classroom to the workplace.

“The goal of the CBWTP is that 50 percent of the seniors graduating are permanently employed before graduating,” said Sue Hines, in her seventh year as student employment coordinator. “My personal goal is 100 percent of the seniors are permanently employed.”

In the past six years, she has had only one student not to obtain employment after completing the program.

Teachers refer to Hines students who do not plan on attending college or entering the military. She meets with them and their parents to explain the program and to see if both parent and student are interested. 

“If interested, the parent signs a consent form to share school records with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation who determines eligibility,” Hines explained.

The first year of the program is designed to be an exploration phase. Hines talks with the students, parents, teachers and others who know the students well to learn their strengths, weaknesses, interests, gifts and qualities. 

“We then job shadow at different business to see first-hand what the vocation is like,” she said.

Business owners or managers share information and answer students’ questions.

“Sometimes students realize that the job isn’t at all what they expected,” said Hines. “Other times, students have explored a vocation in which they had not expressed an interest and have ended up choosing it as their vocational goal.”

During the exploration phase students volunteer at the workplace to gain valuable training and work experience, things that help them determine how well they like the vocation.

“LaRue County is fortunate to have businesses that take such an interest in the success of LCHS students,” Hines said. “I have taken students job shadowing to most businesses in town, sometimes several times during the school year.”

Many businesses would like to hire, but due to the economy are unable, she added.

“They will give their time, to allow students to gain work experience and skills, however, to assist them in obtaining permanent employment elsewhere,” she said.

The jobs, thanks to the willingness of businesses to volunteer, are as varied as the students’ interests. This year, worksites include dental offices, childcare, senior adult care and restaurants. Nineteen businesses have volunteered as training sites; another 30 have agreed to employ program participants.

Most juniors are in nonpaid training sites, according to Hines. During the senior year students may remain in training until an employment opportunity is obtained. Currently, all six seniors are permanently employed.

Hines gives Kristie Wright, LCHS guidance counselor, a list of the seniors participating in the CBWTP and Wright schedules their elective classes for fifth and sixth periods. 

Once paid employment has been obtained, the elective classes are switched to Career Options and Career Networking. Students receive a credit for the classes as well as a paycheck. Each student’s grade is determined by his work evaluations.

Any business interested in employing or offering training may contact Hines at 270-765-9728.