Thanks to Glenn Neff of Hilton Head Island for sharing the story about a new summer program for youth he was involved with in Jasper County.
Glenn said the students learned about new capabilities, responsibility, accountability and reliability.
'A Hand Up'
By Glenn Neff
This was an especially good summer for 33 Jasper County high schoolers, one that makes a good news story for the Lowcountry.
The Antioch Educational Center in Ridgeland partnered with the Jasper County School District to provide summer jobs for 33 high school juniors and seniors.
This new Summer Youth Work Program gave students an opportunity to work for the school district and AEC for two months this summer.
The basics of the program look like this: The applicant and their parents are required to agree to abide by the job rules to be accepted into the program. This part was completed and the 33 students started work on June 9 and worked through July 31.
Treated as regular new employees, the young workers were assigned to 11 different divisions or departments of the two sponsoring organizations, where department managers supervised their work performance and personal progress over the summer.
The work assignments included transportation, clerical work, food preparation, athletics, and building and grounds. Each student worked from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., four days a week, for a total of 20 hours a week. They were paid $8.50 an hour, or $170 per week.
This is an outstanding opportunity for the students for many reasons:
They get on-the-job training to develop new job skills, plus they experience firsthand how the business of a school system operates. They meet new people to work with and work under the direction of a supervisor. Their work performance is tracked so they will develop a resume that can be helpful for future employment.
Every one of the students must set up a bank account with a local bank because they will receive their wages via the direct deposit. Thus, they will learn how to do business with a bank and will learn to manage their finances using non-cash methods, which is a life-learning experience.
Some of the other rules they agreed to follow included:
Never be late to work.
No cellphones in the work place.
Only one missed day was allowed.
Dress for the job was similar to how the school district staff dresses.
Their supervisors kept them aware of their obligations and helped guide them where needed.
The program was created by Jackie O'Bannon, executive director of Antioch Educational Center. Ms. O'Bannon said she "was pleased to see the students' enthusiasm for having a summer job and especially when I complemented them on doing a good job and seeing them so pleased with themselves -- it showed in their eyes."
AEC is an 11-year-old nonprofit, 501 C(3), organization helping the schools and community of Ridgeland and surrounding areas. Its mission is to assist in moving members of low-income families into a better life by providing programs and services in the areas of health and wellness, academics, technology and job preparedness.
The summer jobs program, much-needed for Jasper County, was provided though the generosity of a great couple because of their love for young people and helping them get a good start in life. While this couple wishes to remain anonymous, they should know that they are appreciated.
At the end of the graduation ceremony, each of the 33 students gave $10 toward the purchase of uniforms for students at Ridgeland Elementary School.
It was a great summer program for the students.
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