Progress report on high school mentoring

 It’s really nice to be missed.  Thank you to all who have mentioned you’ve missed my writings and to let you know – it’s nice to be back.  After finishing some pretty large projects I have a slight break before the next one big project rolls about in another month or so. 

            A progress report I’d like to mention – The high school mentoring, (Shadowing), project is well under way and plans to implement after the first of 2014 should run smoothly.   Speaking with all county school career counselors has been a great experience for me.  Every one of the schools are happy to see such an interest coming from the community, more specifically, the county, regarding the direction some of our youth are taking.   While speaking to leaders in the county, I have been able to establish a list of various professionals willing to allow a student spend the day with them to gain experience, hands on.   Now, mind you, we’re not working with only white-collar professionals, in fact, the opposite would be more correct.

  Statistically we realize a lot of our youth have fallen through the cracks when it comes to secondary education.  A lot of students sign up for college but for various reasons are home after one or two semesters, totally lost.  Their dream of sailing through college turned into a nightmare instead of the great experience they had imagined.  These students have found out, blaringly, for the first time, they are not college material and what’s worse, they have no secondary plan.    These are the students we seek and the problems we hope to divert.  

            A college education is a wonderful thing to have.  However, because some parents have a degree, their child is simply expected to continue the tradition.  On the other hand, some parents want their child to have a college degree because they didn’t have the opportunity to get one.  For various reasons, we’re finally coming to an understanding college is not the best thing for everyone.   Many times a vocation instead of a profession is the ticket. 

            According to Forbes and Kiplinger, some of the best jobs for the future include plumbing and electrical contractors, not doctors or attorneys.   Over the past several years we have lost several traditionally blue-collar professions such as building and landscape contractors, electricians, plumbers, and mechanics due to the push for more specialized education in medicine, law, or accounting.    We are now seeing these formerly blue-collar professions as highly specialized and an integral part of our society, and there is a huge shortage of them. 

            There’s got to be a balance in there somewhere.  Through this mentoring program in partnership with our four county schools, Heber Springs, Concord, Quitman, and Westside Greers Ferry, we hope to make the career-making process less stressful for everyone involved, especially the student.  We hope by offering some simple solutions, and some hands-on experience with local professionals, each student who participates will be better equipped after high school. 

For years, parents should have saved their money and time by insisting their child go to college.   If you don’t feel your child is ready or willing to do what it takes to get that degree, sending a child to college who is not disciplined enough at home concerning work or studies, will probably prove to be a waste of time and money in a college setting.   During this process, parents should also make sure college is not all their idea – and think about allowing your child to become an entrepreneur or attend a technical college.  Having your child spend some time with a business owner or professional could very possibly help them determine what they want to be as an adult.    “Shadowing” someone who has been there, done that, could quite possibly be the best educational experience a student could get.

 All professionals who work with students during this program will be encouraged to include the student in every action possible during the work day.   Learning the good, the bad, and the ugly now instead of after spending thousands of dollars or years in a profession only to find it just isn’t working,  could very possibly lead to a successful, happy, and profitable future for your child.  At least that’s our goal.

Students who participate in this program will be held accountable by their teachers and will be selected by the career counselor at each school.  If you feel this is something your high school student can benefit from, I encourage you to contact your school’s counselor and speak with him/her.  Parents/guardians must be willing to sign a permission slip at the school and any waiver of liability a business/company/corporation/individual might require.   

Cleburne County Economic Developer Dara Samuel of Heber Springs writes her “Let’s Talk” column on Fridays.  She can be reached at 300 W. Main in Heber Springs and at 501-362-8402.