By Sarah Shurge – “Every kid’s pathway is going to be different. Some kids will jump into the workforce after highschool. Some kids will go to community college. Some kids will go to a four-year school. We want to promote all of that,” said WWCS Superintendent John Dignan. “Every kid is different and every pathway is going to be different that our kids go on and we need to support them.”
The “Wayne-Westland Build Your Future: Pathways to the Workforce” is one way Wayne-Westland Community Schools (WWCS) is supporting kids’ paths. “Pathway to the Workforce” is a Community Funding Project to provide work-based internships and job shadowing opportunities for students.
WWCS recently celebrated a partnership with Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA), United States Representative Rashida Tlaib, SEMCA Chief Executive Officer Gregory Pitoniak, and Superintendent John Dignan to bring the “Wayne-Westland Build Your Future: Pathways to the Workforce” project to life.
“This is made possible only because of the extraordinary foresight and efforts of congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. The congresswoman brought Wayne-Westland schools and SEMCA to the table and encouraged us to think big and to create an intensive career learning opportunity for the students,” said Gregory Pitoniak, SEMCA Chief Executive Officer.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib visited the William D. Ford Career-Technical Center (WDFCTC) for the partnership ceremony between SEMCA and the Wayne-Westland School District. At the ceremony, she presented a $850,000 check for the “Wayne-Westland Build Your Future: Pathways to the Workforce” project that was approved for funding by the House and Senate and signed by President Biden. She also toured the facility.
“I’m really happy that 850,000 dollars can be invested in this and let me tell you this is just the beginning,” said United States Representative Rashida Tlaib at the Partnership Ceremony.
The funding will allow for a work-based learning program to be developed that includes paid internships and job shadowing. Students 14 years and up will develop necessary soft skills and acquire appropriate clothing for interviews.
“Our kids need experience and to touch things. And even if they decide that they don’t want to do something, they’re going to save themselves money and time on the back end and they might see something they want to do,” said Dignan.
WDFCTC offers 19 different programs.
“We culminate high school here at the career tech center with high tech, high skills preparation,” said WDFCTC Principal JaCinda Sumara.
Sumara explained that career readiness rests on four question related pillars: 1) What do you know? 2) What do you like? 3) Who do you know? And 4) Will someone pay me to do that?
“When kids graduate, we want them to graduate with more than high school credit. We want them to have college credit, industry certification, and we’re going to build that here in Wayne-Westland,” said Dignan.
Placements will be made throughout the District and with partnering municipalities.
“The biggest thing is, is doing what’s best for our kids. And part of that is building relationships with the business community, skill trades, to provide opportunities to advance equity and promote student success,” said Dignan. “If it wasn’t for everyone coming together, working towards a common goal: which is our kids, this never would have happened.”
Representative Tlaib also gave a shout-out to her Chief of Staff, Larissa Richardson at the ceremony.
“If it wasn’t for her, would not have gotten over 15 million dollars,” said Representative Tlaib. “There were 10 projects throughout the district and every single request they put in got approved, including this one and renovations for the amphitheater.” Representative Tlaib recently presented the City of Wayne Council with a check for $550,000 to fix the Goudy Park Amphitheater.
“We talked about night school and votech, and those are important because we knew we couldn’t just focus on traditional acts of higher education for job access,” said Representative Tlaib. “It’s not always going to get that bachelor degree or even getting your degree at community college. It’s sometimes getting those hands in there, to use what they already know and build on that. And that sometimes is what is most inspiring for our young people. So, the fact that we’re going to be able to help 300 students, I’m ecstatic.”