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Summer Youth Employment teaches life skills

by Kate Gardner

Dori Draper is making it possible for teen-agers in this area to live their version of the American Dream: make money for doing something school-related.

Draper is in charge of Douglas County School District’s Summer Youth Employment and Training Program.

“It’s a chance for kids who are ‘at-risk’ to get out in the community and learn skills that they will need in life,” Draper said.

The 22 students met with Draper to discuss what they enjoy doing and what skills they already possess. Draper has helped students get internships at businesses such as Grand Auto, The Jitterbug, Minden Montessori, Carson Valley Veterinary Hospital, Finishing Touch, Douglas County Public Library, Washoe Smoke Shop and in the Douglas County School District.

This is the first year for the program in the Valley, but a similar program has been running through Job Opportunities In Nevada (JOIN). The Private Industry Council opened up grant proposals for such a program, and Draper jumped at the opportunity.

“So far it has been very successful. A couple of the students have been or will be offered to work throughout the school year,” she said.

The internships only last through the summer and Draper said that the school district will need a grant to continue next summer.

“We should be able to get the grant again if the Private Industry Council feels that we did a good job with,” Draper said.

Students get paid and they also receive credits for school, according to Draper. The program also pays for any summer school the students may have to attend and helps them earn hours toward summer school.

Charlie Walker, Jr., 18, has spent the summer interning with the janitors at Douglas High School.

“I worked with the janitors during the year and they asked me to do it through the summer. It’s fun and I get paid. I probably wouldn’t do it if it was a volunteer thing,” Walker said.

Walker works from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. He usually cleans classrooms, takes gum off the tables, vacuums and shampoos rugs, cleans cabinets, sweeps and mops.

“You know, usual janitor stuff,” Walker said.

Walker plans to go to culinary school and then go into accounting.

Another student involved in the program is Crystal Husman, 16, who will be a junior next year. Husman works at the Minden Montesorri.

“I got in the program because it really is a good job opportunity, it helps you get ready,” Husman said.

“No, you did it because I hounded you,” Draper said with a laugh.

“I think it’s awesome though,” Husman said. “I really like working in child care.”

Husman likes it so much, that her plans after high school are to go to community college and then work in a child care facility.

“I also wouldn’t mind being a teacher for pre-schoolers or kindergarten,” Husman said.

Husman got her start in child care last year when she volunteered at the Recreation Department.

“My mom signed me up and I loved it. We would go to the beach and stuff like that. It was a lot of fun,” Husman said.

“Hopefully, we will continue this next year,” Draper said. “The response has been wonderful and it really is a great experience for the kids.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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