Upper grade students gain experience through a work-study program School news

Upper-class students improve their work experience, gain valuable customer service and business skills, and help local businesses meet their staffing needs through a vocational training and technical education program.

Kenny Wutton, a senior at Stone Memorial High School and Lane Barwell High School, Cumberland County High School, both work at Cracker Barrel of Crossville.

Barwell works as a landlord and accepts orders. Wutton works in the retail department.

Through on-the-job training, they can leave school and go to work during the school year. They also receive academic credit.

Barwell said, “It helped me get a lot of hours. And instead of working one shift every day, I had to work different shifts and change shifts.”

She works about 30 hours a week during her studies.

Wutton leaves school at about 11:30 a.m. and works with two academic blocks for study. She works about 20-25 hours a week, but is still able to participate in extracurricular activities, such as cheerleading.

“They work with my schedule,” he said of Cracker Barrel management.

She is responsible for keeping the store in order and clean and helping customers.

“I love talking to people and communicating,” he said.

Barwell has worked at the restaurant for about a year and a half. She improves her communication skills with clients, problem solving and guiding other staff.

“I’m also a coach, so I work a lot with my colleagues,” he said.

She hopes to study business management at Middle Tennessee State University next year. She learned many skills that are needed for her career – some of which are not found in books.

“It helps you learn how to manage school work, school life and your work,” Barwell said.

Wowton plans to study cosmetology next year at Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Crossville. She sees a connection between high school work and her professional goals.

“It really helps you learn to talk to people,” he said.

Lanny Vickers, retail manager, said the program also wins for the restaurant.

“It helps us develop them in their youth and some stay with us and become managers,” Vickers said.

It also helps with planning, adding the number of people available to work in day shifts.

“We need different access for everyone,” he said. “It helps us throughout the day.”

High school students can work during the day in different places and different businesses.

Robbie Castel, an educational coach at the CTE department, said the program has grown 24% in the academic year, with 140 students attending.

Students often receive academic credit while working in an area that complements their professional goals.

Employers who want to know more about job training can contact Casteel at 931-484-4769.

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