An open house was recently conducted to celebrate the move of the Barbour and Taylor County Strategic Planning in Occupational Knowledge for Employment and Success.
SPOKES moved in May from Alderson Broaddus University to the Tygart Valley Conservation District building in Philippi. The new facility was open Monday to educate the public about the SPOKES program, which prepares adult students for employment through its various courses and certification opportunities.
"It's a really good program," SPOKES instructor Anna K. Benner said. "The goal is to not only get them employed, but to help them retain employment."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Many attended the SPOKES open house in Philippi Monday, celebrating the organization’s move in May from the campus of Alderson Broaddus University to the Tygart Valley Conservation District building. Pictured from left, front row: students Lilly Cottrell, Kayla Jenkins and instructor Anna Benner; middle row: West Virginia Department of Education Coordinator Debi Conrad, student Brittany Rhodes, Assistant Instructor Kelly Benner, Career Development Consultant Debra Adams, Barbour County Family Support Specialist Olivia Lewis and Taylor County Family Support Specialist Alicia Lyons; back row: student Ryan Cutright and Region III District Family Support Supervisor Susan Pomp.
Students in the program are usually referred to by West Virginia Works. Students come into the program with various levels of education. Some of the students have high school diplomas, some of them have General Education Degrees and others have completed some college courses. Once in the program, they take a 12-week course that is individualized to help each student prepare for his or her future.
"We try to address each person as an individual," Debra Adams, the career development consultant, said about SPOKES.
Students in attendance also said they think SPOKES is helping them prepare for the job market.
"I feel that they help more than a high school," student Kayla Jenkins of Philippi said. "I feel like I'm learning more here in the short time that I've been here."
Ryan Cutright, another student from Philippi, said the classes were not overcrowded. He said he believes the smaller the classes, the better. Jenkins and Cutright were among a small number of students who attended the open house.
"They help you one-on-one," student Brittany Rhodes of Belington said. "They get you prepared for everything."
Students work on their job-seeking skills, interview skills, time management, work ethics, goal-setting and learning their rights and responsibilities as an employee. The classes are geared toward improving each student's reading, applied math and language skills. Students hone their writing skills by composing cover letters and thank-you letters. Students also may take career assessment tests and learn how to file for federal student loans.
The SPOKES program also helps students create an employment portfolio that includes their resume, cover letters and the certifications they have earned through the program. Computer certifications opportunities exist and can be specific to programs like Microsoft Word, Excel or Access. Those certifications can be obtained on the specialist, expert or master level.