​Carrie Brkich, first Workforce Development Manager of THINC

February 3, 2015

Formerly the Director of Workforce Development at the Troup County Center for Strategic Planning, ​Carrie Brkich​was hired in September by THINC College & Career Academy as their first Workforce Development Manager.

“The college and career academy was the first project I worked on more than three years ago when I started at The Center for Strategic Planning, so I’m very passionate about this program’s success. Everything I learned as the Director of Workforce Development reinforced my opinion about how vital a college and career academy will be for the future of our community”, says Brkich.

The Work­Based Learning (WBL) program Carrie now manages allows students to leave school early each day to work in a job that is related to their academic studies after high school. The students receive course credits for their work and participation. Previously, teachers at each high school ran the WBL program, but with the coming of THINC College & Career Academy, the Troup County School System transitioned to a regional WBL model with the Workforce Development Manager serving all three schools.

The students’ first official WBL meeting took place in October. Since then, the students have worked to further shape the program. They evaluated homework samples and identified five standards they adopted as their work standards.They wrote reflective essays about why they think those standards are important to uphold and made suggestions for how they should be rewarded for exceeding the minimum standards. They also identified five criteria that should be used to evaluate their work and progress in the program.

Carrie says, “the work standards exercise in October was a baseline test. I needed to know what the students expect from themselves, from their peers, from employers, and from me. I was pleased to learn they have very high standards and want to be evaluated in practical ways.”

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Callaway High School, Work-Based Learning Class 2015

WBL students meet with Brkich the first week of every month at their base school for 30 to 45 minutes. They discuss employability skills and work­related issues such as demonstrating appropriate work behaviors, communicating effectively, and building essential work relationships. They always engage in some sort of interactive exercise related to the topic. Each exercise has a purpose and the students are assigned an essay to reflect on how the topic and exercise relate to their work experience.

“I inherited a great program. The former coordinators did an excellent job building student interest and developing relationships with employers. We had 66 WBL students and more than 45 employer partners when I came on board in September. It tells me we have unprecedented support and that we all want education and training to be connected to work and practice. We’re going to build on that philosophy.”