Four afternoons a week, Trennessa Brown leaves school and walks across the street to work at Dr. Latimer Blount's dental office.
The 17-year-old A.R. Johnson Health, Science and Engineering High School senior helps with filing charts, answering phones, scheduling appointments and checking in patients.
"Trennessa is catching on and soon will be training in the back as a dental assistant," Dr. Blount said.
Trennessa is one of 10 Richmond County students participating in the Georgia Youth Apprenticeship program. This is the first group the county has placed in the 7-year-old state program.
The apprenticeship program, which combines classroom instruction with on-the-job training, is designed to prepare high school juniors and seniors for the working world with the goal of producing a highly skilled, technologically competitive work force.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for both students and employers," said Lawrence Bennett, the youth apprenticeship coordinator for Richmond County schools.
The students are working in accounting, turf management and lawn care, medical offices, and child care. They are getting paid while gaining valuable experience. To encourage participation in the program, Mr. Bennett said, the program tries to place students with employers near their school.
That's great for Trennessa and some of the other participants. Westside High School senior Jessika Giberson wants to be a preschool teacher. So on weekdays from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., Jessika spends her time at World of Discovery Preschool working with 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds. She reads to them, works with them in learning centers and plays with them outside.
"I have always loved kids, so when Mr. Bennett offered me the opportunity I took it," she said.
Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 823-3552.