The Youth Mentoring Program & Workforce Initiative is a new project being piloted at Swiss Hills Career Center. The program aims to encourage students to stay in school and graduate with their high school diplomas and career pathway certificates by implementing coaching sessions for the students. Other objectives of the project include recruiting Community Adult Mentors to offer support to the students through one-on-one weekly meetings, and to connect students to Career Pathway “field experience” opportunities through job shadowing and internship opportunities. 

There are 10 students participating in this pilot initiative. These students meet weekly with Tom Carlisi, a Certified Nonviolent Communication Trainer and Coach. The Coach Sessions focus on academic improvement, behavior improvement, Career Pathway plans, and participation in “field experience” activities. The students also work with Switzerland of Ohio Local School District’s Business Operations Manager Ms. Linda O’Connor on their Career Pathways activities. 

On March 10, SHCC hosted an “Open House” for community residents to learn about the Community Adult Mentor Program. This program is a part of the Southeast Ohio Youth Mentoring Program (SEOYM). The open house meetings were led by Dr. Jim Salzman, Executive Director of SEOYM. Not only were community residents able to learn about the program, but they were able to meet SHCC staff and the students involved in the project. Dr. Salzman will later assign Community Adult Mentors with the project “mentees.” The open house was stocked with nutritious snacks and beverages for the attendants, prepared by the SHCC Culinary Arts students. 

So far, the program has been very successful. Here are a few of the highlights: 

  • A student who wants to become a welder has been matched with a mentor who had a very successful career as a welder before retirement
  • 3 welding students went on a job shadow field trip to Washington State Community College – all students scored higher on the “Welding Simulator” than average
  • A graduating senior needed to send in her college application to study Radiology, and with the help of the Coach Sessions and SHCC staff, she completed her application in early March; she was accepted two weeks later to start college in Fall 2020

Mr. Carlisi states, “Students are feeling more motivated and hopeful due to this extra support. With a clear Career Action Plan, completing their school work, the academic year, and graduating from high school doesn’t feel too far away.” 

Like so much else, the program has been slightly stalled by COVID-19, but many students are continuing to connect with each other online, continue their Coach Sessions, and complete “home study plan” updates.