Students earn career skills
West Nassau’s Jasmine Corbett cleans the glass counter at Gator’s Discount Outlet.
That’s part of her day’s assignment as a Career Experience student.
“I wipe windows because that’s the best thing to do,” Corbett said.
Her classmates also pitch in to move merchandise and straighten products on shelves while teacher Jennifer Helbert leads students with assistance from paraprofessional Teresa Newby.
Career Experience students are exposed to social interactions in the workforce and practice job skills they will need after high school.
The students require extra assistance in learning those skills. They study core classes and an elective in addition to the Career Experience class they take. As part of the class, students participate in practical exercises to raise awareness of living expenses, shopping for bargains and other issues related to adulthood.
“The goal is for them to be as independent as possible when they leave and they’re able to hold a job,” Helbert said. “We try to give them as many skills as we can when they’re with us and we hope they’ll go to the Transitioning Adult Program.”
Students can participate in the TAP program until the age of 22, working four days a week. Helbert’s class serves as a bridge to TAP, which assists students as they enter the workforce.
Gator’s store clerk Destiny Sorrells appreciates the students’ help at the Callahan store.
“It keeps things organized and they get to interact with other people outside of the school as a group,” she said.
Marisa Madore learned how to operate a vacuum cleaner and other work-related skills. She was busy pushing it across the carpet in the main travel areas.
“It’s fun to learn new things and to get out more,” she said.
In addition to working one hour each Monday at Gator’s Discount Outlet, the teens help out at Nassau Funeral Home on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, they collect recyclables at school. Each Thursday, the teens stop by the Record and other local newspapers and distribute the new issues to classrooms. The students assist at Circle 6 Ranch, the home of Jeff and Cami Lucovsky, each Friday.
The teens help care for chickens by collecting eggs, changing the chickens’ drinking water, refilling feed and replacing hay in laying boxes.
“They also get to learn about gardening,” Cami Lucovsky said. “They pick fruits and vegetables, pull weeds, weed eat, pull up dead plants and replant. Some are learning to mow. They also learn retail skills by helping customers.”
Son Max Lucovsky joined his classmates at Gator’s as he vacuumed an area near the front windows. He also worked at the store this summer as part of a project where students complete 40 hours, working one-on-one with business owners.
“The summer program is awesome,” Lucovsky said. “My only complaint would be that it was too short and Max wanted to keep working. He worked at Gator’s and learned all aspects of retail. He unloaded merchandise, stocked the shelves and rung up sales. He greeted customers and helped some to their car with their purchases.”
Store co-owner Gator Collins is pleased to collaborate with the students.
“It’s always enjoyable to help anyone, especially someone like Max because he and his family appreciate the help,” he said, adding that he also learned lot from Max.
“I enjoyed his interactions with our customers and how his vocabulary grew from day one until the end of the program,” he said. “It was rewarding to see everyone adapting to him. It was exciting. Max helps other people more than they realize. Max does more for me than I do for him. It’s changed my views on a lot of things and made me more patient.”