Port St. Joe High School students in the High School High Tech program have had a busy summer driving tractors, crawling under houses, chasing children, planning displays for the library and more during their summer internships.
Through this career mentoring program, students were teamed with different employers and businesses in town. These business partners gave the students the opportunity over the summer to learn how to be effective employees, with job training and exposure to the work environment.
In addition, the local High School High Tech paid them each a stipend for their internship. Based on their skill improvement and meeting some “good employee” standards, they also received bonuses.
Wesley’s Electrical Services mentored J.T. Mork, who learned how to build electric poles, put in fans, and even run a Kubota tractor to dig a trench.
“It is so crucial we show our young people that there are great opportunities in the technical trades,” said Dr. Patricia Hardman, director of the Dyslexia Research Institute/High School High Tech Program.
Cameron Lindsey interned with Miller Heating and Air, where he discovered that “You can get real dirty working under a house.” Cameron helped with installing ductwork and many other jobs. The guys at Miller A.C. and Heating who worked with Cameron were able to teach him a lot.
Two of the students worked in the childcare area. Nigeria Russ enjoyed her time at The Learning Center, where she worked with children from infancy to 6 years old.
“Nigeria was great at troubleshooting with students on solutions when needed before coming to a teacher,” said Courtney Knox, director of The Learning Center.
Chasity Kaleta-Gonzalez interned at the Florida Child Development Center. She enjoyed working with the kids but learned that childcare was not a career path she wants to follow.
“That’s the importance of interning in different areas. Students find out what they really like or do not like to do. They refine their career interests,” said Robyn Rennick, program director.
Daylon Hunnings thoroughly enjoyed working at the library, where he put together displays and came up with a way to showcase the many local brochures brought to the library.
“I enjoyed going to the Historical Society Meeting in Wewahitchka and hearing them discuss how to use a grant they have received. I can see myself writing grants one day,” he said.
“Daylon came up with great ideas,” said Mimi Minnick, coordinator for the Gulf County Libraries. “He is going to lead a Shakespeare Club for students this fall at the library.”
The St. Joe Golf Club and Jordan Arnold have worked with Timmy Connell throughout the summer. This is the second summer that Timmy has worked at the golf club. He has continued working with the maintenance and distribution of the carts and has expanded to learning how to maintain the pool.
“Working with these mentors is invaluable for the students as they develop their skills for employment. We so appreciated the business mentors’ willingness to not just hire our students but to really mentor them and teach them good work habits,” said Rennick.
High School High Tech, a program of Dyslexia Research Institute, is partially funded by the Able Trust and Vocational Rehabilitation, The Alfred I. duPont Foundation and the Murphy Family Foundation. The program is designed to give high functioning kids with disabilities work/job skills and exposure to different occupational options while they are in high school. Through participation in the meetings and community volunteer service, the students earn the right to be in the paid internship summer program.
Much of the students’ stipends for the internship program and other activities are raised through local funding by sponsorships from local businesses in the Autumn Action Golf Tournament, which will be held at the St. Joseph Bay Golf Club on Sunday, Oct. 3. Please consider a sponsorship or come out and bring a team and help the kids.
“None of the accomplishments of this program is possible without the fantastic support of our local businesses who participate throughout the year,” said Patricia Hardman, PhD, director of High School High Tech. “Our deepest appreciation goes out to each one of them for their time and effort working with our HSHT students throughout the year.
Robyn Rennick, program director, is looking forward to working with Port St. Joe High School, business partners, and the students to make the 15th year of this program the most successful ever.
If you are interested in being involved, please contact Robyn at 850-229-8989 or come by the office at 1934 SR 30 A in Simmons Bayou and talk with us.