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Wood's Mill gives students a head start on careers
Partnerships with Kubota, Goodwill provide real-world experience
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Wood's Mill High School is looking to give its students a leg up on the competition for local jobs and is seeing immediate success.

The school has partnered with Kubota Manufacturing of America Corp., headquartered in Gainesville, to provide a handful of students an opportunity to get real-world experience while under the structure of education.

Through its work-based learning program, Wood's Mill is placing some students in internships and apprenticeships with Kubota, promoting readiness for college and careers.

"What we would like to see is Wood's Mill become is a conduit to these types of opportunities," said Gay Maehrlein, a program coordinator at Wood's Mill.

The school has also partnered with Goodwill Industries of North Georgia to provide these students, and hopefully some future students, career opportunities through its Youth Employment Services program.

They pay for the student's wages, gas and uniform, allowing Kubota to treat the program as a true internship.

Program coordinators say Wood's Mill is the only high school the YES program works with in the state.

"It's been an excellent partnership and we want to continue it," said Wendy Cherrybone, a program coordinator with Wood's Mill.

The group reached out to Kubota which, they say, jumped at the opportunity and has not been disappointed, asking when the next round of students will be available.

"(The students) are doing an incredible job and have made a big impression on the company and the rest of the school," said Cherrybone.

The group presented their program to the Gainesville City School Board on Monday night, with many of the participants in attendance as well.

"With other high schools, they just give you a diploma and you're out on your own, but with Wood's Mill you learn to work in a place you're not used to," said Leim Le, a Wood's Mill student participating in the program.
"So I'm learning how to communicate and use my skills (in this program)."

Students take on rotating positions within the company over the 12-week program, switching jobs about every four weeks.

The students handle anything from welding to processing to inventory.

"You give a kid a goal and they reach it," said Maehrlein.
The participating students can even receive class credit for their work.

Maehrlein and Cherrybone look to continue the program with the same success, attempting to break from the norm when it comes to traditional education.

"The mission of Wood's Mill is to cultivate caring and successful community members who have completed their education," said Maehrlein.

"We want to give them every opportunity."
Students participating the program will receive a certificate, which they can take to future employers if they do not move on to a post-secondary education.