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High School High Tech students have busy summer

Robyn Rennick Special to The Star
The Star

Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School students in the High School High Tech Program have had a busy summer engaging in Zoom Workshops and working at summer internship and other jobs.

Through this career mentoring program, students were put to work with different employers and businesses in town. Our businesses partners gave a number of students the opportunity to learn how to be effective employees this summer with job training and exposure to the work environment. In addition, our local High School High Tech paid them a stipend for their internship, and based on their skill improvement and meeting some “good employee” standards they received bonuses.

Eric Langston and Dianna Harrison of Gulf County ARC mentored Nigeria Russ and she learned receptionist skills and also worked on crews sanitizing different sites around town. This was Nigeria’s first formal job and she rose to the occasion having 100% attendance and always being early to work.

Getting up before the sun rose, two of our students interned with the Florida Coastal Conservancy.

Jessica Swindall has mentored High School High Tech students for several years. This year she worked with Alayna Willis and Chasity Kaleta-Gonzalez.

“Both girls did a great job. They walked with the turtle patrols and helped set up nests and they also worked in the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Center, greeting visitors and helping with the animals at the center.” Swindall said.

J.T. Mork worked at two sites.

Amanda Lucas, at The Humane Society, mentored him as he worked with the dogs and learned many of the other skills and activities needed for maintaining a humane shelter. J.T. also worked with Crystal and Tim dePuy of Pristine Pools.

“He has been great! He learned the routines quickly and has begun taking the initiative on helping in cleaning the pools,” Tim dePuy said.

The St. Joe Golf Club and Jordan Arnold worked with Timmy Connell throughout the summer. Arnold has been impressed that Timmy not only does his assigned jobs thoroughly but then seeks him out to find out what more he needs to do when he is finished.

Kelly Houk has worked at the Gulf County Library with Mimi Minnick.

“We have been closed to walk-in clients, but have had a big on-line ordering of books. Kelly was invaluable in helping me to process books and to fill orders,” MInnick said.

Kelly discovered she really liked being a librarian. She may have found a career track.

“Working with these mentors is invaluable for the students as they develop their skills for employment. We so appreciated the business mentors’ willingness to not just hire our students but to really mentor them and teach them good work habits.” said Robyn Rennick, program director of HSHT.

High School High Tech is a program of Dyslexia Research Institute and is partially funded by the Able Trust and Vocational Rehabilitation and the Alfred I. Dupont Foundation. HSHT is designed to give high functioning kids with disabilities work/job skills and exposure to different occupational options while they are in high school. Through participation in the meetings and community volunteer service, the students earn the right to be in the paid internship summer program.

The students’ stipends for the internship program and other activities is raised through local funding by the sponsorships from local businesses in the Autumn Action Golf Tournament. The Autumn Action will be held at the St Joseph Bay Golf Club, Oct. 11. Please consider a sponsorship or come out and bring a team and help the kids.

None of the accomplishments of this program is possible without the fantastic support of our local businesses who participate throughout the year. Our deepest appreciation goes out to each one of them for their time and effort working with our HSHT students throughout the year.

Patricia Hardman, PhD is the Director of HSHT. Rennick is the Program Director and is looking forward to working with Port St Joe High School, our business partners and the students to make our 14th year of this program the most successful ever. If you are interested in being involved, please contact Robyn at 229-8989 or come by our office at 1934 SR 30 A in Simmons Bayou and talk with us.