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Cross Keys High School

Advisor: Glenda Bonds

SkillsUSA members from Cross Keys High School in Atlanta, Ga., mentored at-risk eighth graders at Sequoyah Middle School. Their goal in mentoring these students in Career Awareness and Exploration was to generate interest in school and keep the middle school students from dropping out.



Champions at Work

Involving the construction, automotive service technology, nursing, computer science, cosmetology, engineering and dental science programs, the mentoring program had four main goals:

SkillsUSA member's first goal was to provide middle school students the opportunity to find out what their interests and abilities were relating to career and technical education (CTE). To reach this goal, the high school students provided a personal interest inventory to the younger students. This helped link the middle school students individual interests and aspirations to career options.

The next goal was to promote CTE opportunities to students in the middle school. This was accomplished by the middle school students attending Cross Keys High School technical classes and engaging in hands on activities with their mentors in each technical class such as cosmetology, nursing, dental, construction, computer science and automotive technology. The high school students wanted to show the younger students the relevance and application of their education.

The next goal was for SkillsUSA members to mentor the younger students by tutoring them in goal setting; identifying personal interests and personal qualities; and providing a SkillsUSA overview by using the Professional Development Program (PDP). They then had the middle school students attend the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) Career Expo at the Georgia Skills Leadership Conference where they got to explore different occupations in that industry. They were also able to observe their mentors in different competitions. This served to expand the mentees knowledge about high school CTE options and future career options.

The final goal was to start a SkillsUSA Chapter at Sequoyah Middle School. On January 6, 2012, a SkillsUSA Chapter Charter was presented to the middle school by the Georgia State Association Director, Gayle Silvey.  Once the middle school chapter was established, they elected officers and also completed Level 1 of the PDP. 

High school participants and SkillsUSA advisors all agree that when the middle school students now reach high school, they will be prepared for SkillsUSA and CTE. They say that the presence of a SkillsUSA chapter at the middle school with the promise of participation at the high school level greatly impacts their community. The sponsors have seen a significant increase in the desire of the middle school students to go to high school and finish high school.

The impact on the high school chapter was that the student SkillsUSA members gained more knowledge of their own course content. By working with the middle school students, they became "deliverers of information" and effective mentors. Many of the high school students came away from the experience feeling wanted and appreciated. Students and advisors say this experience also strengthened their speaking skills, leadership skills and their desire to be competitive.