BRATTLEBORO—During the spring semester of the 2020-21 school year, 16 Leland & Gray Union High School students and three Twin Valley High School students earned a Windham Work Ready credential by completing a semester-long career preparation intensive.
According to a news release, the program was designed and implemented by Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation’s (BDCC) Pipelines and Pathways Program (P3) for Twin Valley students and was created in close collaboration with Leland & Grays’s Senior Survival class.
P3 is a BDCC Workforce Center of Excellence program based at Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) to increase the size and quality of the workforce.
Every senior at Leland & Gray takes the Senior Survival class as a graduation requirement, 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.
Janelle Fisher and Tanya Wheeler of Twin Valley and Dylan Greenwood of Leland & Gray also received the BDCC’s Windham Work Ready Scholarship. They were honored for “exemplifying the accountability, initiative, professionalism, positivity, and resilience needed to excel in the professional world.”
Students started their journey in January 2021 with an overview of growing employment sectors in Windham County, throughout Vermont, and nationally.
In addition to traditional four-year colleges, students learned about credentialing programs, community colleges, and jobs that offer tuition reimbursement.
They 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 (including how to tie a tie), how to effectively resolve conflict, how to talk to a supervisor, and how taking initiative and being resilient can make the difference between success or 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 health care, civil engineering, law enforcement, marketing, software engineering, equine therapy, cosmetology, and the electrical trades. They asked what it is really like to be an employee in that profession.
P3 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 in the 2021-22 school 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,” according to BDCC.