This past semester, Twin Valley High School Students Janelle Fisher, Tanya Wheeler, and Shelbea Fournier completed a semester-long career preparation intensive designed and implemented by BDCC’s Pipelines and Pathways Program (P3).
This pilot course was offered to every senior at TVHS during information sessions in November and December, but participation was voluntary. Asking students to participate in a virtual, 17-module, weekly course during the last semester of their senior year, during a global pandemic is asking a lot. But these three young women completed the course and earned their Windham Work Ready Credential by consistently demonstrating the skills and behaviors necessary to navigate the professional world.
This past weekend the young women marched at Twin Valley graduation with teal honor cords, denoting their achievement. Ms. Fisher and Ms. Wheeler also received the Windham Work Ready Scholarship for exemplifying the accountability, initiative, professionalism, positivity, and resilience needed to excel in the professional world.
Students started their journey in January with an overview of growing employment sectors in Windham County, throughout Vermont and nationally. Then they explored their passions through interest inventories, research, and goal mapping. Throughout the course, they learned optimal practices for applications, resume writing, and interview preparation. They learned about professional body language, verbiage, and appearance, how to effectively resolve conflict, how to talk to a supervisor, and how taking initiative and being resilient can make the difference between success or failure on the job and in life.
P3 believes that launching kids from high school with a better understanding of employment and training options is critical to making informed decisions for themselves that lead to gainful employment, financial security, and personal fulfillment. Some student pathways may follow a traditional route, such as a four-year degree. That decision may be right for many, but P3 is keenly aware that lifelong learning happens in many ways. The intensive highlighted alternative pathways to postsecondary success such as credentialing programs, community colleges, and jobs that offer tuition reimbursement.
One of the final challenges in the course were mock interviews. Students interviewed with volunteers from The Deerfield Valley Rotary Club and received feedback and advice to help improve their interview skills. To wrap up the course, students were paired with professionals connected to their field of interest (engineering, cosmetology, and equine therapy) for informational interviews where they could ask questions about what it’s really like to be an employee in that profession.
“I loved the program and all the skills I learned from you!” – Janelle Fisher, Twin Valley 2021
“I wish we had this type of opportunity when we were in high school. A program like this is so important.” – Robert Brody, Rotary volunteer
The course was designed in response to local employers and college recruiters who identified the need for enhanced employability and soft skills among their new hire and freshman cohorts. They believe that a greater focus on improving these skills will increase the likelihood of young people making it through their probationary periods at work or their freshman year of college. P3 has leveraged the successes of the program and next year the course will be credit bearing and offered to sophomores and juniors at TVHS. This holistic educational approach that allows students to start exploring career pathways earlier in high school will ensure that every senior confidently graduates with a clear and solid plan for post-secondary success in future years. P3 is thrilled to be a part of TVHS’s inspired commitment to improving postsecondary outcomes for all of its students!
Many thanks to The Deerfield Valley Rotary Club for helping fund this program and for providing mock interview volunteers including Sarah Shippee, Bob Brody, Diane McCormick, and Deb Amazon. Thanks to Amber Thibodeau of Southern Vermont Therapeutic Riding Center, Jennifer Beckwith of The Village Beauty Shop, and Spencer Brown of Data Dog
Funding for P3 is provided by the McClure Foundation, Vermont Training Program, Vermont Community Foundation, the Windham County Economic Development Program, the Thomas Thompson Trust, the George W. Mergens Foundation, People’s United Bank, Tom Smith & Omega Optical, and the Whitney Blake Company in Bellows Falls.
BDCC’s Pipelines and Pathways Program (P3) provides employment oriented career-planning for the region’s high school students. It brings training in 21st Century skills, work-based learning, and personal learning plan (PLP) engagement opportunities to all four public high schools in Windham County. The program assists in developing workforce-oriented curricula, expanding classroom relationships, and growing work-based learning through opportunities with local employers. It also supports teachers working face to face with students to implement personal learning plans and seize the myriad opportunities presented by Vermont’s Flexible Pathways Initiative under Act 77. Pipelines & Pathways a BDCC Workforce Center of Excellence program based on SeVEDS strategies to increase the size and quality of the workforce. For more information please visit https://brattleborodevelopment.com/workforce/