New Eagle County schools program gives students experience |

New Eagle County schools program gives students experience

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Not every Eagle County student can or wants to go to college after high school, which is why the school district is hosting a program to help those students find their ways before and after they graduate.

The school district is participating in the statewide School to Work Alliance Program, known as SWAP. The program is a collaboration among the school district, the state’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and local businesses.

The school district’s special-education department runs the program, which focuses on getting students with disabilities ready for the transition from school to work. Students who just want some help figuring things out are welcomed to the program, too.

“Our goal is to transition kids into jobs or, hopefully, careers or transition them into the college community, as well,” said Bonnie Pottorff, the school district’s director of special education.

The school district had SWAP for a while a few years ago, but students weren’t as interested, Pottorff said.

She thinks there’s a better understanding now of what the program can do for students, and the sluggish economy probably doesn’t hurt, either, she said.

“I’m thinking the economy might force some kids to look at (the program) as well,” Pottorff said.

Patti Kravitz, the school district’s coordinator for the program, said she’s been working all summer to get local businesses involved.

“I’m having a field day educating our businesses that we have employable individuals here,” Kravitz said.

Kravitz said businesses are really supportive – she has commitments from many businesses throughout the valley that will take in students and teach them work skills during the school year. She’s hoping to find as many businesses as she can.

“The goal is that we the school district to eventually have a vocational program with our community businesses participating in it,” Kravitz said. “I’d love to see the old Battle Mountain High School become a vocational-technology school.”

Kravitz is going to meet with high school students in coming months to teach them things such as resume writing, interview skills and basic life skills such as balancing check books, she said. She hopes to not only get the students interested in their futures, but also the community.

“We’ve got a bunch of really neat kids in our school district who are interested in careers,” Kravitz said.

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