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Garyville/Mt. Airy puts 100 of its students to work

STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / November 11, 1998

GARYVILLE – Job training has been integrated with academics to equip local students with workplace skills and experience.

Garyville/Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet School hired 100 seventh- andeighth-grade students to serve in designated job positions for the duration of the school year as part of the school’s new School-to-Work program. Available job positions include file clerk, mail clerk, officecourier, receptionist, computer data processor, office machine operator, and editor, reporter or graphics designer for the Garyville Gazette staff.

School-to-Work was developed and instituted by Finessa Parsons, an employee at Garyville Magnet School.

“Not all of these kids are going to go on to college, and it’s important that they start developing job skills that they’ll need later on,” Parsons said.

Prior to being hired, each student was required to fill out a job application form, submit a completed resume, sign a contract, submit a parent permission form and a teacher letter of recommendation and be interviewed by school principal Michael Coburn. Every student whofulfilled these requirements was hired.

An orientation program and job training was held for the student workers prior to their first days on the job. Vince Russo with Minolta Copiers ofDonaldsonville hosted a session for students hired as machine operators.

“The hiring process gave them an idea of what to expect when they go to apply for a job, and they had to be responsible,” Parsons said.

Of the 100 students who began working at their designated job positions approximately six weeks ago, more than 90 have showed up for work on time and dutifully fulfilled their work requirements, Parsons said.

“They’re getting better each week as they get more comfortable with the work,” Parsons said. “I feel more comfortable leaving them alone whenthey work as I see them progressing.”The goals of the program, as stated in Parsons’ School-to-Work Program Proposal, are to offer a structured learning environment to explore the application of reading/language arts in a school office program, introduce career opportunities in journalism, computers in the office and a variety of clerical skills and form a program that will incorporate language arts and computer/scanner skills necessary for publishing a school newsletter and flyers needed in a school office.

“To establish a strong school-based learning component that will become a work-based learning experience” was also a goal stated in the proposal.

The one-year program provides student training in a variety of areas, including the use of Microsoft Office 97 and 98 Microsoft Publisher along with the scanner. Student workers oversee the weekly publication of theGaryville Gazette as the students collect, edit and publish the newsletter.

Students are also trained in office skills, including filing, copying, data entry, mail sorting and receptionist. They work at various locations in theschool, including the library computer room, library, school office and science lab.

“It’s been such a big help to have the students work here in the library, and it’s been a good experience for them,” said Librarian Glendora Grant.

“The students check books in and out on the computer, shelve books, help with filing and things that will help them when they use the public library.”Parsons said she hopes other schools and community institutions get involved in the School-to-Work Program by making available similar job opportunities for young students.

“Even if it’s just for the summer, these kids could apply their job skills at other businesses,” she said. “It needs to be a collaborative effort.”

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