Thursday, July 31, 2014

Features
Glendale Mentoring Program
by Jessica Tighe


They're too young to have a real job, but some local middle school students sure feel like they do. The students are part of a mentoring program put together by the Glendale-River Hills School District and the Bayshore Town Center Foundation.

Emily Janicik and Kaela Lawrence are only eighth graders, but they already know they're interested in working in the food industry. Now they're getting hands-on experience at Devon Seafood & Steak.

"You get to do the backstage pass pretty much. You get to go in the kitchen, meet all the staff and you get to see what jobs they do. First I started off as a hostess," Lawrence explains.

These students signed up for a unique program at Glen Hills Middle School. It pairs them up with a business at Bayshore and immerses them into the work world and just like a real job, they had to work for the opportunity.

"The interview was a little scary, but I thought it went really well and putting together the resume was a bit of a challenge because I had to track all of the things that I've done so far," Janicik says.

It was a little tough to start, but it's resulting in tremendous experience. The mentors say they love seeing the kids learn.

"It's a way to show them how to present themselves and go and get that type of job they want and really figure that out. High school is all about a learning experience and really understanding who they are so if we can help them starting a little bit earlier, I think it's great," Danielle Fetzer, Devon's Director of Sales says.

The team at J. Jill where Nikayla Adams is shadowing agrees. Adams wants to be in the fashion industry and is learning everything from the perfect fold to superb customer service.

"I learned how to be gracious with customers. I learned from watching Lindsey, how she interacts with customers and I learned from Laura how she handles the business of the store," Adams says.

She's learning quickly and impressing her mentors.

"I said if she would have been 16, a few years older, we definitely would have hired her," Laura Blankenburg, store manager of J. Jill says.

And when Adams is 16, Blankenburg may hire her! The school counselor says the students often go back to the businesses and do get jobs.

"I'm just thrilled for them because we want all of our students to be successful in their life and choose the career path that they want. To be mentored in that before they even get there is just, I can't even tell you how valuable that is for our kids," Brenda Humphrey, Glen Hills Middle School Counselor says.

The students have to spend at least five hours at the business they're paired up with. More than 30 kids signed up for the program this year.