By Brandon D. Oliver
Palatka Daily News
A program at Putnam County high schools is helping students learn job and life skills to help them give back to their community, and a teacher and guidance counselor involved with the program wants to make local businesses aware of it.
This is the second school year Jobs for Florida Graduates is at Palatka, Interlachen and Crescent City high schools.
According to the program's website, Jobs for Florida Graduates is a "school-to-career program" that will help students graduate, build confidence and successfully move on to gainful employment and/or post-secondary education.
Becci Motes teaches the course at PHS and is the guidance counselor for students enrolled in the program. Motes, who has worked at PHS for 16 years, said the program teaches organizational skills, how to set and accomplish goals, how to greet and get along with people and other life skills that aren't taught in other classes in school.
"All through high school, they learn academic skills," she said. "This is about being able to survive in the world. And not just survive, but thrive."
On Thursday, Motes had her second-period class working on writing resumes and next week, students will practice interviewing skills.
In addition to students graduating and finding post-secondary jobs or work, a major priority for Jobs for Florida Graduates is finding jobs for students while still in high school and having them interact with businesses in the field students want to work, Motes said.
"Most of the students have jobs or have gotten them within the last three weeks," she said. "A lot of (businesses) don't know about it yet. We've only had it in place for one year, so we're trying to put this in place (in the community)."
On Wednesday, 17-year-old Emanuel Robinson, a senior, got a job at Sonic Drive-In in Palatka, a job he said he might not have landed had he not learned job and life skills in the program.
Robinson said he wants to join the Army after high school and attend college to study business or criminal justice, but the foundation for the plans will be learned this school year.
"(Motes) helped me get (the job)." said Robinson, who also works at the student-run VyStar Credit Union at PHS. "She helps out a lot. She helped me with my resume. I feel like this class is going to prepare me for anything I do after high school."
Another senior, Roland Constantineau, 17, said he wants to use the program to become a mechanic. He said he plans to attend the University of Northwestern Ohio, where he hopes to get certification in specialized areas of the automotive industry.
"I want to go to an automotive college….that's going to help me get through my first year of automotive and help me get my diesel technician degree," said Constantineau, who has already completed the high school's three-year automotive program.
For more information about Jobs for Florida Graduates, visit flgraduates.org/jfg or contact Motes at 329.0577, ext. 497, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.