Local schools give update on Whitley Works program

Staff Writer

In 2017 a series of meetings took place at the Eagle Glen Event Center. There business and community leaders alike came together to discuss the skills they felt students needed upon graduation. These skills were used to make the guidelines for the Whitley Works program, and this past year the program was put into practice at all of the Whitley County school corporations.
On Wednesday, business leaders returned to the event center to receive an update about how the program went in its first year and the plans for the future.
“Whitley Works is a county-wide initiative, and we appreciate your involvement, and the involvement of all our partners, locking arms and working together for our youth in our schools,” said Dr. Patricia O’Connor, superintendent at Whitley County Consolidated Schools.
The idea to develop some sort of an initiative for these students began several years ago.
“When we were having conversations on graduation day with our kids and asking many of them what they were going to be doing after graduation, many of them had plans of college and work, but it was unbelievable when I talked to kids and they told us ‘I don’t know’,” said O’Connor.
In order to bridge this gap, as well as meet the needs businesses were saying they had, the local schools partnered together to apply for a four-year Lilly grant, which they received.
The program was built with the idea in mind that businesses would have the chance to support students in developing these skills, whether this be as a mentor, by providing work site tours, offering job shadows, internships and more.
“The mission is that every student in Whitley County will graduate prepared for and accepted to a post-secondary opportunity,” said Lori Heuer, talent development director for WCCS. “This is for every student no matter what they plan for after high school.”

To read more about how the program has impacted local students this past year, grab a copy of Thursday's edition of The Post & Mail, available at newsstands and convenience stores throughout Whitley County.