Work-Based Learning

Dresden Students Get on the Job Skills Development
Posted on 12/09/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Dresden Students Get on the Job Skills DevelopmentSome business leaders might call it “leaning in” or “hands-on.” Others might go with “earn while you learn.” But no matter how it is described, the growing numbers of students engaged in work-based learning are experiencing, -- rather than simply reading about it on the page -- what it means to provide customer service, manage time, and communicate effectively.

Pat Phillips, one of Dresden High School’s certified work-based learning instructors, sees the growing interest and success thus far this year as an indicator that Weakley County Schools is on the right path.

“All 18 of the Dresden students are doing well in the workplace,” she noted. “They don’t realize they are learning the skills they are. And we have no complaints from the employers.”

Phillips is overseeing the program in Dresden that the state revised in 2015 and Weakley County implemented more formally in 2019. Students must meet required standards in such areas as written communication and resume development, provide weekly time sheets documenting the required 10 hours, undergo evaluations by their employers every six weeks, and, in the spring, present on lessons they’ve learned. Short online courses provide the content. Phillips also works with students during the year on building resumes.

“We are pleased that we have teachers who are taking the time for the necessary certification to increase work-based learning across the county,” said Lindsey Parham, Career and Technical Education Director for Weakley County Schools of the additional online interactive learning coordinators must complete. “We’ve already seen examples where being able to work and attend high school meant the difference between dropping out and graduating. We want to continue to improve the program to provide not only credits and pay but also opportunities to explore options in their anticipated career fields.”

Dresden has the highest number of participants among the four high schools. In a recent interview, Grant Kelly, a Dresden senior, pointed to the business acumen he has gained as he works his ten hours (and more) each week at West TN Automotive in Dresden.

“I like learning about the business. I’ve learned a lot like how to deal with customers with situations, turning a negative into a positive,” he noted of his time in the office, cleaning cars, and running errands. “I detail cars on the side and like having the knowledge to run my own business.”
Kelly readily admits he wanted something active to do rather than sit in a classroom. Jacey McClure, a cheerleader, and third in her class academically, agreed that the active nature of the opportunity was a draw.

Also a senior, McClure says expanding her hours at Sonic in Dresden helped her in ways beyond the financial. “I’m definitely learning how to deal with people, especially angry people,” she said. “When people are hungry, they are not the sweetest. I already had the customer service voice. I knew what to say to not make them upset, but I now know how to fix an issue really quick.”
Phillips says she also uses short online courses to help them meet educational standards required.

While McClure will be able to apply skills she’s developed in her planned future career in elementary education, both she and Kelly would have liked to have had work-based learning options in their chosen paths. Kelly said had an opportunity to work at the electric company been available, he would have eagerly pursued it since he has hopes of becoming a lineman once he graduates in May.

As in business, feedback on new endeavors is important, and Phillips is collecting input from both employees and employers. McClure suggests that students who are interested in work-based learning be given the necessary paperwork in the spring before taking the class in the fall to avoid delays. Signatures must be obtained from employers on documents dealing with such things as safety and liability. Students must complete a safety training log and sign a contract. A parental consent form must be notarized.
Phillips points to matching career desires with opportunities, expanding the number of jobs and internships, and having instructors rather than students set up the relationships as ways to further improve the program.

Currently the students involved in work-based learning at DHS include Shaun Dunning, Jerry’s Service Station, Dresden; Annika Jolley, Jolley’s Embroidery, Dresden; Grant Kelly, West TN Automotive, Dresden; Paige Mallon, Neotech, Dresden; Kelsey Spann, Dresden EW James; Leeanne Morefield and Jacey McClure, Dresden Sonic; Landon Gallimore, A to Z Pet Supply, Dresden; Trent Lewis, Martin Sonic; Haley Dick, Cook Out, Martin; Madison Taylor and Nolan Pittman, Cine Theatres, Martin; Ty Prince, Sharon Furniture and Appliances; Spencer Davis, Davis Farms, Sharon; Anna Lackey, Sharon Furniture and Appliances; Brady Bell, Bell Farms, Gleason; Paige Ganoe, Bancorp South, Dresden; Parker Ferrell, BJ Potts Timber Company, Latham/Dresden.

students participating in work-based learning seen in their work sites
Students at Dresden High School currently enrolled in work-based learning include: (top, left to right) Leanne Morefield, Dresden Sonic; Landon Gallimore, A to Z Pet Supply; Kelsey Spann, Dresden EW James; (middle, left to right) Jacie McClure, Dresden Sonic; Hailey Dick, Cook Out; Grant Kelly, West TN Automotive; (bottom, left to right) Brady Bell, Bell Farms; Anna Lackey, Sharon Furniture and Appliances; Anika Jolley, Jolley’s Embroidery. Photo credit: Pat Phillips

more students taking part in work-based learning
Weakley County Schools remain grateful for local businesses investing in students like these currently enrolled in Dresden High School’s work-based learning: (top, left to right) Ty Prince, Sharon Furniture and Appliances; Trent Lewis, Martin Sonic; Spencer Davis, Davis Farms; (middle, left to right) Shaun Dunning, Jerry’s Service Station; Parker Ferrell, BJ Potts Timber Company; Paige Mallon, Neotech; (bottom, left to right) Paige Ganoe, Bancorp South; Nolan Pittman, Cine Theatres; Madison Taylor, Cine Theatres. Photo credit: Pat Phillips

Jacey McClure at Sonic

Jacey McClure extended her hours at the Dresden Sonic by enrolling in the work-based learning class. She’s studied about communications and customer service online for the class while getting practical experience as a car hop.

Grant Kelly at West Tennessee Automotive

Grant Kelly has his own business detailing cars and has added to his knowledge of business because of the ten-plus hours he spends each week at West TN Automotive as part of work-based learning.
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