Jordan Acton is learning about law enforcement at the Syracuse Police Department.
And Courtney Flannery is learning about child care at Teen Parents Succeeding in Syracuse.
These three Wawasee High School students, and many more, are part of the work-based learning program at the high school. Work-based learning has been revamped and given new life this year, said Trish Miller, coordinator of the program, as the program dates to at least the mid-1990s.
The program allows mostly WHS juniors and seniors to have internships for one trimester at a business off campus, at the high school or at another school in the Wawasee district.
Students are placed in mostly unpaid positions (some are paid) for two hours daily working with professionals in various fields for one trimester, which is a 12 week period. For the current trimester, there are 20 students working off campus, but more than 100 overall also working in either the high school or in another school in the Wawasee corporation.
Those who work in a school can be peer tutors, office assistants, lifeguards, teachers assistants or cadet teachers, those who work with elementary teachers and students and more.
“The overall goal is for students to explore a career area they may be interested in,” said Miller, who is also a teacher at WHS. “It gives students a more realistic look at career choices.”
Miller credits Mike Schmidt, assistant principal at WHS, with being a strong encourager of work-based learning and helping to revive it. She said Schmidt feels strongly students should be given a chance to realistically explore career fields.
Work-based learning fits in with an increased emphasis at Wawasee of giving students opportunities to experience, firsthand, various career fields. Another example is the geometry in construction program where students learn hands-on how geometry principles are used in building construction.
As much as possible, students are matched with career interests in work-based learning. But exceptions have to be made if too many are interested in the same career field.
Miller said work-based learning allows employers to test a student’s work ethic and abilities. And it has the potential to increase the number of young people who will choose to stay in the local area after completing college.
Students can also build networks with potential employers, she added.
“I’m always seeking companies to accept students,” Miller said. She can be reached by phone at (574) 457-3147, Ext. 274, cell phone (574) 238-0975 or by email at [email protected].