​Work Based Learning at GCHS: an Opportunity for Adventure

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Beginning this fall, Grundy County High School (GCHS) students have the opportunity to serve as interns and shadow career professionals as part of their high school curriculum in conjunction with a unique Work Based Learning (WBL) program made possible by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Education (TDE).
“Work Based Learning gives students an opportunity to see firsthand what they might want to do after high school while preparing them for what is expected on the job,” said Natalie Nunley, Transitional Case Manager for the new program.
Seventeen students have enrolled in GCHS’s two WBL classes which meet daily. In the classroom, students take career assessment tests and participate in mock interviews. Career professionals who visit the classes talk about what they do and what is expected of a good employee.
Just two weeks into the school year, the owner of a local bakery and an officer from the Unites States Army have already visited the classes.
Key to the WBL program’s mission is reinforcing academic, technical and social skills through collaborative activities with industry.
“We want all the WBL students to be placed in either a paid or unpaid position,” Nunley said. “We’ve had quite a bit of support from the community, especially for unpaid intern positions.”
“A student interested in cars might have a shadow job with a mechanic,” she explained, “observing what a mechanic does and what the job involves.”
“Interns work about four hours a day,” Nunley said. “Students with good attendance and good grades can leave school early.”
“An employer offering a paid intern position is eligible for tax incentives up to $9,000,” Nunley stressed. She urged employers and community members wanting more information to contact her at nnunley@grundyk12.com.
Two GCHS teachers recently received certification qualifying them to teach the WBL classes. WBL Instructors must hold a Tennessee teaching license and have non-teaching work experience.
“GCHS had a program similar to this years ago,” Nunley said. The TDE introduced updated WBL policies and resources beginning in the 2015-16 school year. Renewed interest in WBL grew out of Governor Haslam’s “Drive to 55” commitment to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025.
“For students work based learned serves as a transition to full-time employment or further education,” Nunley said.
What students learn can be as simple as knowing tank tops are generally not appropriate attire for a job interview or as intriguing as finding out what goes on behind those doors marked “Authorized Personnel Only.”