DOBSON — Surry County Schools is launching a new initiative thanks to a grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation.
Recently, SCS and Surry Community College hosted an event in Mount Airy for local businesses to talk with educators about plans for a program called Next Generation Career Academy. Dr. Travis Reeves, SCS superintendent, and Dr. David Shockley, SCC president, hosted the meeting at The Holiday Inn Express.
Dr. Jill Reinhardt is the school system’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and career and technical education. She shared the news with the group of receiving the grant from Golden Leaf.
“The foundation supports tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities working to transition to more prosperous and stable economies,” said Reinhardt. “Surry County Schools pursued this grant hoping to fill some employment needs over the next few years in Advanced Manufacturing and STEM-related fields.”
Dr. Reeves and the Surry County Board of Education has spoken the past few years of how it isn’t enough just to teach children enough to reach the standards for getting a diploma. There are businesses in the county and surrounding area that need skilled workers, so high schools have to do more to prepare graduates for a career.
Reeves detailed the plan of action for this grant from the foundation, which was established in 1999.
“Students will complete internships or apprenticeships designed with local business and industry partners that can and will lead to employment,” he said.
”Students will earn industry-related career credentials such as Career Readiness Certification, OSHA Certification, Lean Six Sigma Certification, and certificates from Surry Community College in content areas such as welding, construction, nursing, computer-integrated machining, and electronics.”
Needing a project manager for the Next Generation Career Academy, SCS and SCC brought in a career coach who has worked as a college liaison for East Surry.
Crystal Folger-Hawks talked about her new position and the timeline for implementing the strategies of the academy.
Throughout the year, SCS and SCC will collaborate with businesses to place students in extended internships, said Folger-Hawks.
She will begin meeting individually with businesses, tour their facility, and design internship opportunities. Her main responsibility will be matching students to specific careers in the partnering businesses and then monitoring and mentoring those student interns.
GLF funds will pay stipends directly to students for their work-based learning internships, as well as funding the costs of textbooks and transportation costs. SCC will provide job skills training for the student interns. Internships begin on January 29, 2018.
Reeves said that he and Dr. Shockley look forward to this partnership so they can “educate, train and prepare students for the workforce needs of the surrounding area.”
“Rural communities located in North Carolina are in the fight for their lives with the metropolitan areas that continue to experience the population and economic growth required to secure and retain business and industries,” said Shockley.
”It is critical for our educational institutions, businesses and industries to work closely together in order to meet the current and future economic development needs of our community,” Shockley said.
“This joint initiative provides the support services required to help our young men and women attain the technical education credential and real-world experience required to secure a career with substantial salaries and benefits within our community.”
There are several expected student outcomes from this program:
• All students will earn industry-recognized credentials;
• All students will participate in work-based learning opportunities based on a career path;
• It will increase opportunities for students to gain workforce training while in high school and increase the employee candidate pool for business and industry looking to fill the pipeline with qualified workers.
“Getting involved in this program is important to Smith-Rowe, but also important to our local economy,” said Jody Phillips, Vice-President of Smith-Rowe Inc. “We have the opportunity to teach young people about the good jobs in our community. This will help us grow our own. This is a win-win for everyone.”
During the partnership meeting, Phillips spoke about the importance of businesses working with students to educate them of the many opportunities. He shared two jobs where he would like student interns to work: estimator/project manager and construction carpenter. He also mentioned some courses he would like these students to take while completing internships.
“This is important work,” said John Priddy, Surry County Educational Foundation president. “The businesses, the school system and the community college all have come together to guarantee that not only will our students be successful in the workforce, but it will affect our economic development growth and make Surry County a better place to live and work.”