Sheri Samson
Gary Hamrey and Kylie Berginnis are working part time at Hawthorne Utilities as part of the Schools to Career program.

When Hawthorne Utilities was given the chance to participate in the Schools to Career program, they were thrilled to interview and receive two students ready to work.

Gary Hamrey began training in newer equipment, while developing his welding skills on dumpster and trashcan repairs. Working part time, two or three days weekly, Hamrey shared that he is enjoying the challenge as they keep him busy in the maintenance area of the utility company with basic repairs.

“I like learning new equipment and getting to train in different areas,” Hamrey stated.

Kylie Berginnis joined the office staff with her clerical skills which allowed for filing, sorting, labeling and organizational needs to be completed. Berginnis proudly shared her accomplishments in scanning the bulky, old maps into a condensed system using data entry techniques which she learned through the business administration courses at her high school.

“I have been taught how to act in a business setting and how to use the many office systems available. Now this is my hands-on experience through this program,” Berginnis shared.

Office manager, Ana Fitzgerald shared how the program was assisting not only the students, but also the overall staff members.

“To have a student that is willing to apply themselves and actually learn working skills is such a help to our overall service to our customers. These students are working beside us in a true workday setting and it has allowed our staff to accomplish more as the organizational items are getting done. Both students have great performance skills in their assigned duties.”

The Schools to Career program is part of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes which follow a three year learning path. These students are paid and there are grants underwriting these crucial opportunities. The CTE courses currently offered are administrative/business services; construction technology; consumer/health sciences; foods and nutrition. These programs involve a parent and student agreement as a clear focus and development is needed to maximize the goals.

With workplace readiness as a prime foundation, Principal Jeff Wales stated in the recent CTE meeting, “These are essential programs needed within our county. They help to establish our kids learning to live and work locally. As a community we need to identify the skills needed and create classes and programs that become a feeder program for the kids to come through.”

Director Debbie Tarleton expressed how important this program was to one high school senior student who stated that even as the youngest in her family, she was the first child to work a job. For this student Tarleton shared, “There was such pride and accomplishment being built within her; she wanted to take on a second job.”