Anchorage Student’s Hard Work Pays Off
©Urban Educator, June/July 2015. Reproduced by permission.
Julie Vincek, an on-the-job training coordinator at Anchorage School District’s King Career Center in Alaska, vividly remembers when 12th grader Preston Bolton (right) came to her and expressed his desire to join
the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) apprenticeship program. The program is highly coveted, with up to 300 people a year applying for the few available spots.
But Bolton knew that he wanted a career in construction electricity, so Vincek obtained an internship for him with a local company. After successfully completiing the internship, Bolton underwent a rigorous interview process, and then received the good news that he had earned a spot into the IBEW apprenticeship program.
“We just kept seeing this guy who kept going after his dreams,” said Vincek (right). “We didn’t know, until long after he had been selected, his life story.”
That story includes leaving Anchorage with his family and then dropping out of high school in the 10th grade to work two jobs as his family’s sole breadwinner. But Bolton soon realized that he couldn’t get anywhere in life without finishing school.
He was able to contact a relative to care for his siblings, and a friend’s family in Anchorage agreed to take him. So Bolton came back to An-chorage and caught up on all the work he missed in order to receive his diploma.
The Anchorage School District recently held a big signing event recognizing vocational students who obtained direct entry into a union. At the event, Bolton shared his story and, according to Vincek, there was not a dry eye in the room.
“He really wants to be an example,” said Vincek. “He said ‘I want other people to see me and know that they can achieve too, even if they have had hard times in their life.’”
School's out for summer— at last
Elissa L., summer school student in Mr. Spade's Intro to Welding Class, poses with her KCC masterpiece. Nice work Elissa!
Business leader got his start at KCC
|Nearly two decades ago, 17-year-old Ryan Cropper walked into the KCC Collision & Repair shop curious to see if he liked auto body work. Today he owns and operates one of Anchorage’s most successful collision repair shops. And he’s helping his alma mater train the next generation of technicians. |
Ryan is the owner of Able Body, one of Anchorage’s busiest collision repair shops. He employs anywhere from 50 to 70 workers at a time – plus a few interns from King Career Center’s on-the-job (OJT) training program.
Before an OJT intern may touch a vehicle he or she must pass an intensive orientation, which includes safety training, shop upkeep and best business practices. Each intern is paired with a collision specialist who mentors and instructs. The interns start with the easiest tasks and advance to more complex ones, until they are ready to work independently.
“Internship gives a student a view of real life,” Ryan said. “Students come to work and see other people at work who have mortgages and bills to pay, people who depend on that paycheck to live.”
“The real world is different from school. There are no excuses; just do the work. Be here on time. Don’t mess around. A good attitude changes everything,” Ryan said. More>
KCC students start apprenticeships
Five KCC students were signed as apprentices during the first week of May—two with NC Machinery, two with IBEW, and one with Alaska Laborers’ Union. Below is a letter reporting on how Alexis Gonzalez is doing as a new apprentice at the Alaska Laborers Training School:
Hello Lou- (Pondolfino—Principal),
I wanted to send you an email as we complete week 1 of our General Construction class, with our new apprentices, to let you know that Alexis has been identified as "excellent" by all of our instructors (not always an easy label to get from them). Several of the instructors have stated "we wish all our new apprentices were like him" - which is the biggest compliment that anyone can give to - not only Alexis - but his school, past instructors, principal, parents, family, and everyone who helped him become the fine young man he is today. As we have discussed, there is a negative stigma in construction industry (maybe just some of the older guys who have had bad experiences) regarding hiring the 18-year-old, fresh out of high school - that they do not understand the real working world, reliability, hard work, etc. I thank you for helping me bust that myth within our apprenticeship program. We will continue to identify those young people who indeed are ready and get them into the apprenticeship program and then directly into the work force. There are many 20+ year olds in this group that Alexis is outshining... Thanks for sending us a rock star!
I will plan to come to graduation on Wednesday to support Alexis as he makes this transition in his life. Thanks again and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
Alaska Laborers Training School
13500 Old Seward Highway
Anchorage, Alaska 99515
Film director Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success in life is just showing up.” That axiom proved true for KCC graduate Ronnel Tyson, who turned his excellent attendance record and work ethic into a well-paying job in the fiber-optics industry.
Tyson moved to Anchorage from New York about three years ago. He tried KCC’s Computer Electronics Technology class, but within a week realized that field wasn't for him. So he moved down the hall to Construction Electricity and found his niche. He took two semesters of the class. “It was the best part of school. I loved it,” Tyson said.
By the time Tyson graduated in 2012 he earned every certification he could at KCC: OSHA training, North Slope training, HILTA, SIM, Fork Lift training and NCCER training. Tyson also connected with the team in the Youth Hiring Center with the Alaska Department of Labor, located behind KCC. YHC trained him in job interview skills and helped him polish his resumé. Then he patiently earned work experience at the Home Depot electrical department. All the while he kept his eyes open for a better position.
|It's all in a day's work
Mai Chang Vue was in her third day of training at the Alaska Native Medical center when her mentor, Bonnie Bausch called. “Come quick!” Bonnie said.|
Mai dropped what she was doing and followed her mentor to the Trauma Room. A patient in the ER had gone into cardiac arrest. Mai was directed to stand on a stool behind one of the technicians administering CPR. Then the technician stepped aside and motioned to Mai to take a turn administering CPR.
Mai was ready. She worked with a team of six technicians in two-minute rotations. After about 30 minutes the patient was revived.
The experience galvanized Mai desire to become a nurse. “It was the first time [I’ve helped save someone], and it’s the best opportunity I’ve ever gotten,” Mai said.
King Career Center’s On-the-job training (OJT) program puts students into real-world employment situations. Some, like Mai, are given a chance to help save a life.
Bausch is Mai’s OJT Mentor at Alaska Native Medical Center. She asks incoming students if they are Basic Life Support certified. “I asked Mai if she would be willing to perform CPR if needed,” Bausch said. “I usually ask ahead of time so I know the comfort level of the student. Part of being a great healthcare provider is being ready when you are needed. When we had a patient needing CPR Mai was willing to rotate with our staff, and she did a great job.”
|Trains, trails and glacier ice:
students explore an Alaska they’ve never seen
|Thanks to a donation of 50 tickets from the Alaska Railroad, dozens of Anchorage teenagers visited hidden parts of Alaska not accessible from the road system. A 3-hour train trip ended with a mile-long hike to Spencer glacier, where students fished for chunks of glacier floating like ice cubes in the melt water lake.
The Chugach Children’s Forest organized the trip--a partnership between the US Forest Service, Alaska Geographic and the KCC Natural Resources Management (NRM) class. Their goal is to introduce middle and high school students to some of Alaska’s wildest places.
While exploring the Spencer Glacier area, Alaska Geographic youth leaders explained how glaciers form: Layers of snow press into mile-thick ice that becomes heavy enough to flow like toothpaste down mountain valleys. The students also learned how increased atmospheric carbon is affecting the rate of flow, and how Spencer Glacier itself has receded over the past few decades.
Over the past few years, students from KCC’s Natural Resource Management program have participated in many Children’s Forest adventures, ranging from one-day ice climbing and snowshoeing trips to 10-day kayak and horseback trips. Many NRM students have gone on to internships and jobs working in the outdoors. Guided by staff from both the Forest Service and Alaska Geographic, who act as mentors, the students explore careers working with national parks, wildlife refuges, outdoor recreation, and resource management.