TAYLOR — Northern Arizona Academy in Taylor recently applied for and received a grant from the government to begin an internship program involving NAA students and area businesses.

This is how the grant works: NAA will pay a business $2,000 to accept a student intern and train them in two separate positions within the business.

Chaz Cardwell and Nichole Sellers are the internship coordinators, working diligently to get this program up and running.

The prospective business is asked to sign a contract that details what is needed.

The student is required to complete 120 hours of training at the business within one trimester, which is about a three-month period.

The business will train the student in two positions, so that they can learn two different sets of skills.

The business will then complete weekly evaluations, with a final evaluation, verifying that the student completed their 120 hours.

This gives NAA a little more information on what the experience was like for the business with the internship. All of the paperwork is provided.

Sellers said, “What really sets our internship program apart from others is that we pay $2,000 to the business to provide training for our students.

“The business can then choose to pay the intern or not, it is totally up to them. The money is helpful because the business has to do extra work to provide that opportunity and train the students.

“We want to make sure that they are compensated for that. Then it’s up to the business to decide whether to pay the student for an internship.

Cardwell said, “We cannot dictate what the company does for the students; we leave that completely up to them.

“They can take the $2,000 and pocket it or they can take it and pay the minimum wage with it or provide different supplies. It’s completely up to the company’s discretion.”

Sellers explained that they are really interested in working with small businesses, for which that money would be very impactful.

She said, “Not that we aren’t open to the bigger businesses, but that can be a little more tricky, forming those types of partnerships.

“So the smaller ones, that’s a big deal to them. That goes directly to families in our community who are running businesses.

“We have about nine prospective businesses lined up for this trimester, which will be starting Feb. 28.

“The students are right at the edge of graduating. These are 17-to-19-year-olds, so providing for themselves, finding a job is a very big reality for them, especially when they’re at that stage of high school where they’re looking at graduating.

“This is our way of giving them an opportunity to enter the workforce, with our support. Rather than just throwing them out there and saying, all right, you’re graduated, go find a job, this is our way of helping them to bridge that gap in finding a possible career.”

Students were surveyed about the types of jobs they were interested in pursuing, like secretarial work, real estate, social services, day care, professional writing and nursing home care. Construction was at the top of the list for the boys and mostly health care for the girls.

Sellers said, “A lot of these students who qualify, have the flexibility to leave campus during the day to fulfill work hours.

“So that is a question that we’ve gotten from our students, ‘how’s this going to work because I have these kinds of hours.’ These students have the credits to be able to leave school and they do earn high school credit for doing this internship.

“It’s up to the student how to get there and rearrange all of the hours and agreements.”

Cardwell said, “We definitely work as a team with the company, with the student and ourselves to make it work. This program is a privilege for the students.”

Northern Arizona Academy, in Taylor, was founded in 1998. This is a small charter high school that focuses on individualized instruction. Outside of areas like Tucson or Phoenix, Northern Arizona Academy is the only A-rated alternative school in the state. Accreditation is a voluntary method of quality assurance and is designed primarily to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards. The accreditation process is also known in terms of its ability to effectively drive student performance and continuous improvement in education.

For more information call the internship coordinators at 928-536-4222 or email nsellers@naacharter.com.

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