Students earn post-secondary experience through program

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

A joint effort between the Jackson, Cape Girardeau and Scott City school districts has given special needs and at-risk students at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center a rare opportunity to hone important job skills.

Representatives with the school districts involved in the CTC's Work Enhancement Program presented an overview of the program to the Cape Girardeau School Board during their meeting Monday night.

Four years ago, the cooperating schools teamed up with Holiday Inn in Cape Girardeau to develop a program that would allow disadvantaged students to gain post-secondary experience.

Eligible students spend half a day, Monday through Friday, working with a mentor at Holiday Inn. Every six weeks, they alternate to different stations -- laundry, lobby, kitchen, dining room and housekeeping -- so they receive experience in a variety of areas.

Students are graded on their work, but do not receive wages. Judy Holshouser, guidance and placement counselor at the Career and Technology Center, said several students have found permanent employment through the program.

Joining forces

For the first two years the program was funded through a grant. When the grant ran out, the three participating districts decided to finance the program themselves.

"Most of the students in this program are looking for job experience and have no way of getting it," said Linda Tallent, vocational resource educator at the CTC.

Tallent said the program is generally open, but not limited, to juniors and seniors who are disadvantaged academically or economically.

"Those are the students who seem to need this program more than anyone else," she said.

People who have graduated but are having problems finding work may also be eligible, Tallent said.

"These kids are so proud and so happy," she said. "It really makes a difference in their lives."

The Jackson School district currently has two students participating in the program.

Jackson's special education director Beth Emmendorfer said the program is just one way that local school districts are preparing students for post-secondary life.

"It's a great program, and we feel fortunate to be a part of it," Emmendorfer said.

For more information about the program, contact Holshouser or Tallent at 334-3358.

335-6611, extension 128

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