South Rowan High School Students “Shadow” N.C. State University Faculty & Staff at N.C. Research Campus
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Two South Rowan High School students are part of a new program that N.C. State University has implemented at the N.C. Research Campus to expose local teens to the many possibilities when it comes to the work world. The teens were selected to “shadow” or spend at least one and one-half hours each week for a semester with N.C. State faculty and staff at the campus.
William Lambert and Jasmine Hollis, both 18, have the opportunity to learn about office responsibilities such as interpersonal and organizational skills, time management and problem solving. They currently spend most of their time with bookkeeper Susan Stirewalt and facilities technician Randy Keller. William has an interest in horticulture and helps Keller water plants that are used for research. He also is learning troubleshooting skills and how to keep equipment running smoothly. Jasmine is learning office skills and has organized the filing system. The students are accompanied by a job coach from South Rowan High School, Leticia Earnhardt, at this and other work sites they visit.
As the program progresses, students will have the opportunity to learn more about the faculty research at the campus. They will start by visiting the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury on May 15 with Stirewalt, Keller and Dr. Jeremy Pattison, the new strawberry breeder with the N.C. State University Plants for Human Health Institute. The students will visit the high tunnels, a new technology for North Carolina farmers, and the greenhouses to learn about the latest research.
Stirewalt graduated from South Rowan High School in 1979. During a conversation with former high school classmate Melinda Fuller, who is now a teacher at South Rowan, and another teacher at the school, Traci Anderson, the three decided that a South Rowan and N.C. State partnership would be “great way” to provide opportunities for local teens.
Anderson and Fuller teach in the Occupational Course of Study program at South Rowan. The program offers academic, functional and vocational training. The goal of the program is to expose students to different opportunities and equip them with skills and training so they graduate with diverse employability skills. Anderson said that the students are learning new skills working with N.C. State University at the N.C. Research Campus.
“Ms. Stirewalt has given them a great variety of job skills training,” Anderson said. “We hope to expand this in the fall and maybe include other students.”
Stirewalt wants the students to learn what it’s like in the work environment and she wants to help them develop skills to assess different situations and to know where and how to find resources they need to be successful.
“Midgie Dial was the office occupations teacher when I was in high school,” said Stirewalt. “She always said, ‘You don’t have to know everything, you simply need to know where to find it.’” Stirewalt wants to build on this advice to help local youth learn about opportunities open to them. Both Stirewalt and Keller said they see the teens’ self confidence and self esteem blossom as they learn new skills.
The program with South Rowan High School is the first of its kind for high school students with N.C. State University at the N.C. Research Campus. College students frequently serve as interns for faculty members, and N.C. State is looking at how to further involve students of all ages at the campus.