TOWNSHEND, Vt. – This past semester, 16 Leland & Gray High School students and three Twin Valley High School students earned a Windham Work Ready Credential by completing a semester-long career preparation intensive. The program was designed and implemented by Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation’s Pipelines and Pathways Program for Twin Valley students and was created in close collaboration with Leland & Gray’s Senior Survival class.
Every senior at Leland & Gray takes Senior Survival to complete their graduation requirements while Twin Valley students enrolled in a voluntary pilot program. Only students who consistently demonstrated the skills and behaviors necessary to navigate the professional world received the credential and marched at graduation with teal honor cords, denoting their achievement.
Twin Valley’s Janelle Fisher and Tanya Wheeler, and Leland and Gray’s Dylan Greenwood also received the BDCC’s 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. In addition to traditional four-year colleges, students learned about alternative pathways to postsecondary success such as credentialing programs, community colleges, and jobs that offer tuition reimbursement. Students then 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 and failure on the job and in life.
During one of the final challenges in the course, students were paired with professionals connected to their field of interest for informational interviews. Students worked with employers from sectors like healthcare, civil engineering, law enforcement, marketing, software engineering, equine therapy, cosmetology, and the electrical trades and had the opportunity to ask questions about what it is really like to be an employee in that profession.
P3 is a BDCC Workforce Center of Excellence program based on Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies to increase the size and quality of the workforce. BDCC is a private, nonprofit economic development organization that serves as a catalyst for industrial and commercial growth throughout Southeastern Vermont, and is one of 12 RDCs throughout Vermont.
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. Senior Survival will continue to be a required course at Leland & Gray next year, and P3 has leveraged the successes of the program at Twin Valley to create a credit-bearing course offered to sophomores and juniors in conjunction with their new entrepreneurship program. This holistic educational approach will ensure that every senior confidently graduates with a clear and solid plan for post-secondary success in future years.
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.