(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Governor Mike Beebe announced on Jan. 13 the second expansion of Arkansas Works, the governor's strategic initiative to coordinate education, training and economic development in Arkansas communities. The new initiative is a pilot program that has hired and placed 43 full-time college and career coaches in 21 of Arkansas's most economically challenged counties.
The college and career coaches will work in the high schools, alongside guidance counselors, to prepare students for success in postsecondary education, training and their careers.
Manila High School Counselor Angie Gipson said she is very excited about the Arkansas Works program.
"We are very happy to have Richard Bowden to work with our young people," Gipson said. "The program is a great opportunity for our students."
Bowden graduated from Manila High School in 2002 and is a 2006 Arkansas State University graduate.
Bowden will be working two days a week at both Manila and Buffalo Island Central. He had his first day on campus in Manila Thursday, Feb. 4.
The goal of the program is to increase high school graduate rates and increase enrollment in the Smart Core. This is also a tremendous opportunity for students to receive more assistance with career development.
Governor Beebe said the career coaches will help students discover the full range of educational and career opportunities available to them.
"Getting students involved in planning for their future and excited about their possibilities will mean great things for them and for Arkansas," Governor Beebe said.
Arkansas Works, available at http://arworks.arkansas.gov, was introduced in November to help the unemployed and underemployed with career planning and exploration of additional educational job training opportunities.
While the Arkansas College and Career Planning System is available to all Arkansans, the college and career coaches will specifically target high school students.
It is designed to inform Arkansas students and young adults about the education, skills and training required for today's 21st century jobs. It will allow students to explore their own career interests and develop their personal education and career plan and connect students to colleges and universities that offer training and degree programs meeting their interests. It will enable colleges and universities to recruit candidates with stated career goals and assist business in finding job candidates who meet their workforce needs.
"This is a wonderful opportunity provided to us through Arkansas Northeastern College and the Governor's office," Manila Superintendent Pam Castor said. This will help us better prepare our students for college/career training. We are very happy to welcome back one of our own graduates. This is a very positive thing for our students."
Bowden said he is looking forward to working with the students and staff at Manila and Buffalo Island Central.