TEEX joins effort in dropout prevention program

10/6/2003 12:00 AM

Keeping kids in school is not only an initiative for San Antonio Mayor Ed Garza; it's a priority for TEEX as well. This summer marked the first year for TEEX to join forces with the city of San Antonio and the Alamo Community College District to provide Xtreme Training for at-risk kids, giving them the opportunity to learn a marketable trade and stay in school.

Sixty-three students from San Antonio’s Southside, Southwest and East Central School Districts went through a rigorous selection process to be able to learn the important skills needed in the fields of carpentry, electrician’s assistant, air conditioning and heating, computer repair and clerical medical assistane.

“The courses we offer to these kids give them the chance to receive the same certification the adults get when they go through our original program,” said Rusty Cooper, instructional coordinator with TEEX’s Career Advancement and Applied Technology Training Division (CAAT) in San Antonio. “Those certifications make these students employable.

“The goal of this program is to give these kids a trade and make sure they stay in school, and the training they have received is only the beginning,” said Cooper, who the kids affectionately called the ‘principal’ for this Xtreme Training program.

The students who went through the program and graduated will return to school and mentor a young girl or boy from a middle school in their district. They will also participate in a co-op arrangement, which will give them actual work experience.

Through the co-op program, the students will eventually go out and work for a company during part of the school day, earning up to $8 an hour, said Cooper. But before the company can offer them full-time employment, they will need to earn a high school diploma, he added.

Funded by a grant from Alamo Workforce Development Inc., the partner institutions are currently in the process of organizing a future Xtreme Training program to reach more high school students.

“The reason the mayor was doing this program ties in to what TEEX is all about,” said Cooper, “to help young men and women and get them out into the workforce. We do just what our charter tells us to do. We train them to go to work—bottom line.”

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