Educator asks chamber for assistance

Published 12:03 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Central High School teacher is asking county businesses to support the area version of a program intended to help students enter the workforce.

Lena Hipps-Clarke, the high school’s transition and career and technical education teacher, asked members of the Lunenburg County Chamber of Commerce during their luncheon meeting Thursday at Mildred’s Restaurant to allow students to shadow employees, be allowed to volunteer at businesses or participate in an unpaid internship.

She and Calvin Streat, supervisor of custodians at Central, outlined the program. They started a custodian-in-training program this past year for two 19-year-old seniors.

The Virginia Chamber Foundation and other chambers from across the state are partnering with schools on the effort.

Hipps-Clarke said the program is needed.

“Research has found that 70 percent of the jobs that are in demand are jobs that do not require a college degree,” Hipps-Clarke said. “However, the jobs require skilled labor. This is where we at Central High School will need to work with industry partners to build a pipeline in high-need occupations.”

The experience would allow students to work on soft skills such as being on time, wearing appropriate attire, following written and verbal directions and working with customers, she said.

“This opportunity will allow the student real-world work experiences that will allow him or her to decide if this career path is the appropriate path for him or her,” Hipps-Clarke said.

Hipps-Clarke said her responsibility would be to supervise the students attending various job sites.

“I will work with the students in the classroom focusing on soft skills, safety issues and requirements for that position,” she said.

The county would transport the students to the business.

“This service is a win-win for all,” she said.

Hipps-Clarke noted high school students are making fliers and programs for chamber projects.

Chamber President Mel Payne said his organization is already looking forward to having the students help out with the Christmas concert and the talent show, which will feature local children. The chamber is planning both events for later this year.

“The way we can help the kids is to go out and spread the word,” he said.