WESTERLY — The Westerly Public Schools have lined up 108 professionals to meet with elementary and middle school students as part of a career awareness and exploration initiative.
Established at the end of the last school year for high school students, Youth Employment Services allows students to learn so-called “soft skills” such as how to interview for a job and fill out employment forms.
Thirty-three students took part in the program, which began with a 40-hour “Biz Camp.”
The employment program also matched up students with summer jobs and unpaid internships.
“We actually placed eight students in actual paid employment for the summer,” Assistant Superintendent of Schools Alicia Storey said. Other students also participated in unpaid work-based internships, she said.
This year the program has been extended to the lower grades.
“We have 108 presenters from around Rhode Island, including Westerly, scheduled to come and talk with the students in the middle school and the elementary levels,” Storey said.
Storey said both programs are funded through a “Working Wonders Grant.” The grant was $85,000. The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce is participating in the Westerly Regional Real Jobs RI Partnership, and this program is part of the collaboration.
Westerly High School guidance counselor Lisa Fusaro and Owen DeMasi, the career readiness case manager with the Chamber and the regional jobs partnership, were instrumental in coordinating the summer youth employment program and year-round career exploration activities, Storey said.
“They really are making sure we have well-rounded presenters to come talk to our students about what’s out there,” she said.
Officials said that the Youth Employment Services program has produced positive relationships within the community.
“That happened by having our students go out and do internships and working for local businesses,” Storey said.