The students at Kenton High School are getting training which may pay off for them long after graduation day. Jane Ensign is the instructor of the Kenton Kommunity Konnectors program at the school, which is in its first year and was established with a state grant received by the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance. “The goal is to promote one-on-one mentoring for students to find a career path in the field of their interest,” said Ensign. “This gives students an opportunity to mentor in that field and make sure that is what they want to do before they go to college and declare a major.”
The Konnectors students are juniors and seniors, but the $128,000 Ohio Department of Education community grant secured for KCS by the Alliance also funds a mentoring program for the students in grades five through ten, said Ensign.
The Alliance applied for the grant in partnership with several other organizations, including the Ministerial Association in Kenton and Quest Federal Credit Union, she continued. Some students enter their junior year in high school thinking they know exactly what they want to do with their adult lives, she said, but others have no idea what career they should pursue.
The Konnector program will give the students a taste for the responsibilities and educational background needed to be successful in a career, said Ensign. Most of the 29 students enrolled in the program have identified business or management administration as a field they would be interested in training to join. Education and health science are also popular choices for the Konnector members, Ensign said. The school year for the students is divided into two parts. This grading period, the teens are hearing from professionals regarding their own career paths.
While that part of the training is going on, Ensign is matching up people in the community to serve as mentors to the students in the second semester. While this is the first year for this type of program at Kenton High School, Ensign has a solid background in this area. She has worked in similar mentoring/training programs in Dublin, Metro Early College High School and the OSU STEM school in Reynoldsburg.
In the classroom, students have heard from area businessmen like Kenton graduate David Haushaulter. Lt. Robert Lutes of the Kenton Police Department shared experiences in law enforcement with the students. Shawn Root told the students how the company he works for, Thomas and Marker, is designing the new ski lodge at Mad River Mountain.
“I thought this program would be a good opportunity for me to decide on what path to go: nursing or pharmacy,” said student Molly Walter.
“It has helped me a lot. The speakers are really good. They come in and discuss their jobs.”
Student Jarred McNeely said he was convinced after high school that he would enter the field of welding and fabricating, but in recent weeks in the program, he is now looking at a future in wildlife and natural resources.
While there is no requirement for the students to be compensated for their work, she said, it is her hope the students will receive a pay check when they work with companies in the second semester which they can set aside to cover college expenses.