High school students in the TSC’s Interdisciplinary Cooperative Education (ICE) program have an opportunity to spend part of the school day receiving on-the-job training with a local employer. Some students that are deemed essential workers are playing an important role supporting the community during the pandemic. They are working in construction, banking, agriculture, health care, food service and other areas.
McCutcheon senior Taylor Mathers was helping with a childcare program at Woodland Elementary School until it closed March 13. Taylor volunteered to be reassigned to the Lafayette Family YMCA where it provides childcare for the children of hospital workers.
“Working with children is what I love to do, and is what I’m going to continue to do through my future career,” says Taylor. “Although this pandemic is scary I feel safe with the precautions we are taking.”
Assistant School Age Childcare Director Alexis Martinez says Taylor has really stepped up to help meet the need. “She has been working with our children ages six to 13,” says Martinez. “Taylor is loved by our parents, children and other employees.”
Harrison senior Makayla Wilson is a Certified Nursing Assistant at Mulberry Health and Retirement Community. Makayla says she is grateful to be deemed an essential worker and to help the residents.
“Working during this time has been a little scary, but it has made me more grateful for the job I have and the people around me,” says Makayla. “This pandemic has only reinforced my passion for working in health care. I still plan to pursue a career as a registered respiratory therapist.”
McCutcheon Work-Based Learning Coordinator Jeremy Bloyd says while many essential care workers receive accolades and thanks on social media, the reality is they are dealing with a frustrated and panicked general public. “By the time they read a ‘thank you’ on social media, my students, along with various other essential workers are likely feeling beaten down and exhausted,” Bloyd says. “I hope our students know how proud the teachers at McCutcheon, and all of TSC, are of them and their commitment to keeping our nation going during this unprecedented time.”
Harrison senior Kolton Fuller says even though his job at Menards is mostly outdoors, he wears a face mask and gloves at all times. He is grateful for the opportunity to help others who want to do home improvement projects. “In my role with the courtesy team, I tend to work independently and occasionally help customers load their cars,” says Kolton. “My goal for the future is to work in the farm animal industry, which I can do independently. My job at Menards has taught me the importance of hard work, which will be needed in my future career.”
McCutcheon senior Connor Sutton is working for Arni’s Restaurants. “We have made significant steps to limit customer interaction, as well as overall making the restaurant a cleaner and safer place,” says Connor. “In this pandemic the restaurant is not only providing food to our customers, but also a sense of normalcy.”
Harrison Work-Based Learning Coordinator Kim Howat says students deemed essential are learning valuable skills. “When video conferencing with the students, many of them discuss customer interactions at the workplace,” says Howat. “The students are learning how to respond appropriately to all types of customer interactions, positive and negative, during these unprecedented times. The ability to manage such interactions will better prepare them for their future careers.”