PUTNAM COUNTY – Monterey High School (MHS) alumnus Mackenzie Randolph had an interest in nursing when she was a high school senior that led her to enroll in the work-based learning program instructed by Penny Riddle at Monterey High School. Randolph was placed in a medical clinic and gained experience that confirmed her desire to pursue a career in nursing. She now works as the school nurse at Burks Elementary School.
“It has been amazing to see how it all came full circle,” said Randolph. “Starting the work-based learning program allowed me to see many things that would later give me an advantage in my nursing classes at school and my future workplace. I have had the privilege of working with four of Mrs. Riddle’s current work-based learning students, and they get to explore having a career in nursing alongside me. I feel honored that I am able to help these girls and give them the same opportunity I once had.”
According to the Tennessee Department of Education, Work-based learning (WBL) is a proactive approach to bridging the gap between high school and high-demand, high-skill careers in Tennessee. Students build on classroom-based instruction to develop skills that prepare them for success after high school and future careers. Through experiences like internships, apprenticeships and paid work experience, juniors and seniors (16 years or older) may earn high school credit for capstone WBL experiences.
“Work-Based Learning programs are an opportunity for students to learn in the workplace,” said Mrs. Riddle, MHS work-based learning coordinator. “It is my privilege to work with industry professionals to find opportunities for our students to expose them to the career they might want to pursue. To see students gain knowledge and experience that allows them to be future-ready is a rewarding one. We can’t thank our industry partners enough for welcoming our students into their workplace.”
Cheyenne Holpp is a senior at Monterey High School and is one of the four work-based learning students who explored nursing with Randolph at Burks Elementary School.
“Work-based learning has given me a better experience on learning in the nursing industry and has allowed me to figure out if this is what I want to major in when I go to college,” said Holpp.
“This is an amazing program and has helped me tremendously in deciding what I want in my future when I graduate in May.”
All Putnam County School System high schools have work-based learning programs available to junior and senior students. These programs continue to grow, and the need for businesses to partner with students is continuous.
“My first year in the work-based learning program, I had six students enrolled,” said Riddle. “This year, we had 45. Our school has seen seven times the number of kids signing up for this program. This excites me because hopefully, long after I leave, the program will continue to grow.”