Here are some of the students from the High School High Tech program at Port St Joe High School and their work coaches this year. The High School High Tech students earn the right throughout the year of having a paid summer internship with various businesses in Gulf County. There are a number of criteria that they must meet in the program during the school year to have this opportunity. They are trained by the coaches at their place of employment, just like any other employee and are expected to “work” just like any other employee in the same job. We deeply appreciate the businesses in Port St Joe that participate in this program and give the students so much of their personal time in training them. Fairpoint Communications, for example, has participated for the entire eight years that the HSHT program has been in Gulf County. For many of the students, it is their first job experience and they literally “learn” what is expected to be a responsible employee and maintain employment. For others, it gives them a chance to explore different employment opportunities.
Melissa Behee, Program Director, of the High School High Tech Program in Port St Joe, which is run by Dyslexia Research Institute, through a partial grant from The ABLE Trust and Florida Vocational Rehabilitation, meets with the students and employers each week to make sure that both sides are having a great work experience. The students are given work evaluations each week and can earn a weekly “bonus” in additional to their hourly wage, when they have met or exceeded the requirements for doing the job, like dress code, following directions, on time, manners, etc., just like an employee is expected to do. The Grant does not include salaries for the students for summer internships so that has to be raised locally each year. The Lion’s Club of Port St. Joe and the Kiwanis Club donated partial salaries and the Autumn Action Golf Tournament in the fall raises funds for salaries. We feel that for the students to experience “real life work experience” that they need to be salaried and see that the income they take home is dependent on how they perform on the job.
The internship last for three weeks but this year at the students’ request over the years for “more time”, we have incorporated a chance to work an additional three weeks based on exemplary work performance and work ethics. It looks like a number of them are already on the way to earning the additional time. Thanks again for all the businesses participating this year.