Vestavia Hills Living

2017

Official magazine published by the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce for the City of Vestavia Hills which details the quality of life, education, shopping and lifestyle of Vestavia Hills.

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powerful partnership. "Work experiences provide many lessons for students to help them become better equipped for their future experiences with college and career," Goodwine says. "Business owners sometimes need staff to assist, but not necessarily another full-time staff member. My students have been able to fill that gap for business owners. In fact, the support my students have provided in some businesses have become a way of business for employers." B U I L D I N G P A R T N E R S H I P S While the work-based learning program has long been in existence at VHHS, the state Department of Education made changes to program requirements in 2014, around the same time Goodwine took over the program. The changes included new requirements for entrance into the work-based learning program, as well as new options for paid and non-paid work environments, which paved the way for growth of the program. Each year, the Alabama State Department of Education requests that the work-based learning program report its wages and economic impact. In 2014-2015, the economic impact of the program was $210,000. The following year, it was $750,000. With almost $2 million in 2016-2017, the program's economic impact is expected to continue growing. Goodwine says her involvement in the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce and participation in Leadership Vestavia Hills have been instrumental to the program's success. She has reached out to business leaders through those organizations and spent time dropping by to meet managers and owners and tell them about the program. "It is amazing how much our community is willing to help our students," Goodwine says. "Now that relationships with employers are being developed, I am beginning to see word of mouth discussions take place. Employers are contacting me because they are aware of other businesses that have benefitted from the students in the work-based learning program." B O O S T I N G E D U C A T I O N A L O U T C O M E S While the program has become an important driver of economic activity in Vestavia Hills, it also continues to meet the educational needs of students. "Most students get their first opportunity to intern towards the end of their college experience," Goodwine says. "This is too late for students to know if the field is the right fit for their interests and abilities. By having an opportunity to work in work environments in their field of interest, students are better equipped to plan their college curriculum. Also, working opens the student's eyes to career possibilities that they may not have considered otherwise." Students don't just get workplace experience; they also gain experience in the process of getting a job, as they are required to apply and interview for positions. "As I become aware of job opportunities, I provide that information to students," Goodwine says. "The job market is competitive; therefore, the students must be qualified and be a good fit for the business. I look for win-win situations for the student and the employer." When she started with the program, Goodwine's goal was to find apprenticeships and internships in as many professional environments as possible for students. Today, with so many local businesses on board, she is often able to match students with work experiences that fit their interests. "Although all work environments help students gain soft skills, teamwork skills, and interview skills, it is great to find opportunities for students that are aligned with their career goals," she says. And growing numbers of students are taking advantage of the opportunities. Three years ago, eight students were enrolled in the work-based learning program. The next year, 35 students enrolled, and this year, more than 50 are in the program. Next year, almost 80 students are expected to be involved. Through the program, Vestavia Hills doesn't just gain economically now: the city is also preparing future citizens to come back and contribute to the city's growth. "I want students to be able to learn more about the work environment in order to prepare them for what they plan to do after high school," Goodwine says. "There are many skills that need to be acquired." " By having an opportunity to work in work environments in their field of interest, students are better equipped to plan their college curriculum. Also, working opens the student's eyes to career possibilities that they may not have considered otherwise. " D E A N A G O O D W I N E H E A D O F T H E C A R E E R A N D T E C H N I C A L E D U C A T I O N D E PA R T M E N T A T V H H S . 24 v e s tav i a h i l l s l i v i n g 2 0 1 7

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