NEW LEXINGTON – New Lexington Schools Credentialing and Employability Coordinator Chuck Byers welcomed 30 community members of the Business Advisory Council to a meeting about what has been accomplished in the 2020-2021 school year. A free breakfast awaited all those who attended the meeting that started promptly at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

Byers greeted the crowd and then gave a brief history of how the Workforce Development Center went from the planning stage to reality. Saying, “you can’t snap your fingers and make it work,” Byers thanked those in attendance for being so patient in the early days of creating the Workforce Center.

Ryan Lewis and Penny Murray were next to make brief presentations. Lewis is the student advocate for New Lexington Schools. He told the crowd that 500 New Lexington students had been placed in part-time jobs and 36 in full-time positions through the efforts of the Workforce Center. He described the various employment locations from restaurants to home healthcare where students were shadowing employers, doing internships, and being employed.

Penny Murray is the transition to work coordinator who also works closely with special needs students. She told the audience that special needs students have the potential to be great employees. Murray also doubles as the site coordinator for the After School Program. She described the success of the driver’s education program that saw 81 New Lexington students receive their driver’s licenses.

Following Murray’s presentation, Angela DeRolph, the commissioner of the Perry County Health Department, gave a brief but very informative report on the need for healthcare providers in Perry County. She described internship opportunities within the health department that offer a student a look at the many career opportunities available there.

One program she stressed was the COVID-19 vaccination clinic being held at the Workforce Development Center on Wednesday and Thursday. Students have been able to work alongside Perry County healthcare nurses as well as student nurses from Ohio State.

DeRolph cited the New Lexington Job Fair as an outstanding program to assist young people entering the job market, and recognized the importance of the mock interviews conducted there.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders” stated DeRolph. She concluded her presentation by saying, “this has been an amazing partnership,” referring to New Lexington Schools Business Advisory Council.

Byers concluded the meeting with a rundown of the year’s successes and COVIC-19 related shortcomings. He touched on plans for next year that include adding Aviation to the Welding and Culinary Arts programs the school has been conducting.

Parents, before you deluge the New Lexington schools with calls about your children flying airplanes with Chuck Byers, understand that he is talking about aviating with drones. More and more companies, including the Perry County Sheriff’s Office, now incorporate the use of drones.

Casey Coffey, New Lexington Superintendent, has recognized the vocational needs in our community and has assembled an outstanding cast to convey this message to the community’s students. Chuck Byers instituted an introductory welding class for third, fourth, and fifth graders by being very intentional with the expected outcome.

“We’re not just throwing something against the wall to see if it sticks,” stated Byers, “we want the nation to come to New Lexington to find welders.”

With the cooperation and partnership between community businesses and New Lexington schools, the Business Advisory Council is pouring an employment foundation for today’s students who Angela DeRolph so aptly identified as tomorrow’s leaders.

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