Program aims to arm Bibb students with job, life skills

Some lessons are best taught outside of the classroom. At least that's the idea behind a state program aimed at equipping high school students with life and job skills.

It's called 12 For Life, and the program is run by the state organization Great Promise Partnership.

Students in the program go to their regular classes for half the day and then move to a job site. For example, students in Monroe County go to the Department of Corrections headquarters. There, they do jobs like keeping online databases and filing paperwork.

"It's a program to take students who have obstacles that they are overcoming and helping them overcome those obstacles by giving them relevant, real jobs and teaching them the value of work with a family of supporters around them," says Hilda Smith with Great Promise Partnership.

Each student gets a mentor or supervisor to guide them through the work and encourage them to finish high school and chase their dreams. To top it off, students also get a paycheck from their job site, making at least minimum wage.

Tiffany Caslin has been working at the Department of Corrections for the past 6 months. She says the program has given her a big boost of confidence in herself and in her future.

"It's really inspirational," says Caslin. "Outside of work, people judge you, but over here, instead of judging you or putting you down, they uplift you."

Some say it's not just a benefit for the students.

"We've had students who were in the 12 For Life program make major contributions to the work that we do here in the Department of Corrections," says Education Manager Steve Edwards.

After seeing success stories in counties throughout the state, Smith says Great Promise Partnership now wants to expand to Bibb County.

"We don't as of yet have employers lined up, so if there are employers out there who are interested in this program, it would be great for them to be in contact with us, but we do have the entire political leadership backing the program and in support of it and the school system," says Smith.

The goal is to have Bibb students interview for jobs by the summer and begin working in the fall. Those students will also get to attend a leadership day at the state capitol and a leadership adventure weekend at a 4-H campsite.


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