Career readiness opportunities continue with Crawford AuSable School District
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Jeff Branch took three months off after retiring from the Crawford AuSable School District, but still with a desire to help guide the future of students, assumed a new position at the Grayling High School.
Branch retired in June after serving the school district for 30 years. He spent 24 as a school administrator as the Grayling Middle School principal and served his last year as the Grayling High School assistant principal.
Under the direction of retired superintendent Joe Powers and Grayling High School Principal Donna Boughner, Branch was tasked with establishing a work based learning program at the Grayling High School.
He established partnerships with companies and businesses interested in participating with the program.
Branch let school officials know that he was still interested in keeping the program moving forward, and was hired as the school district’s career readiness coordinator in mid-August. The job is on a part-time basis.
“I really enjoy this new position,” Branch said. “I was looking for a change.”
Last year, Branch placed nine students in jobs or apprenticeship opportunities in the community.
Starting this week, as a new trimester gets underway, 19 training agreements have been made ranging from work based learning to job shadowing.
The companies involved so far include J&J Heating and Cooling, Monarch Millwork, Springs Window Fashions, Feeny Ford of Grayling, and Airway Automation.
Job shadowing opportunities have been made with Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital and the Grayling Animal Hospital.
A student interested in the criminal justice field will be at the Crawford County Courthouse, job shadowing at the sheriff’s office, the juvenile court, the probate court, and the Michigan State Police Crime Lab.
A student will be working as a CNA at the Brook of Grayling, while another will be doing packing and shipping and receiving at Deane Systems.
A student is placed at Alro Steel doing front office work, and another will be at the Grayling Middle School, learning about becoming a teacher.
A student will be learning job skills at the Family Fare in Grayling, while training agreements have also been made with Xpress Copy, and SMK Construction and Beatification.
“We want to build this program with any company, business, or municipality to try to give students an opportunity to see about a certain profession or career choice that they have an interest in,” Branch said.
In addition to job shadowing and work based learning placements, Branch has added taking students to job fairs to expose them to career opportunities.
On October 3, 25 students visited and toured the Weyerhaeuser Grayling mill to continue the company’s involvement with the work based learning program.
On October 11, 50 student from the Grayling High School and Grayling Middle School traveled to Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City for a Construction Trades Career Fair titled “Building Tomorrow.”
The students were exposed to HVAC, different facets of construction trades, heavy equipment operation, and working as a lineman.
“Anything involving construction trades, students were able to rotate every 20 minutes and got to talk with professionals in those trade areas and to ask questions about the field and those areas of work,” Branch said.
On October 17, students toured the Arauco North America Plant in Grayling Charter Township, and Kirtland Community College’s Wood Technology Institute.
Exposing students to emerging career opportunities is part of “Growing Your Own” to fill the gap for the need for jobs in skilled trades fields.
“I can be that connection between the school and the community and the students,” Branch said.
Branch is at the school three days a week working with students and their parents as well as paying site visits to companies.
“There is lot of behind the scenes paperwork and arrangements that need to be made because every student has got a different situation, but it’s fun and I really enjoy it because the students are excited about it,” he said.
Branch credited Jessie Trumble and Alayne Hansen from the Michigan Works Office with helping with job fairs, job placements, and job training for the students.
“They have been outstanding partners to work with,” he said. “Michigan Works has been a huge help.”
Any individual, company, or business seeking to forge a training agreement with the school district is encouraged to contact Branch at (989) 344-3500 ext. 3427.