Career and Technical Education is celebrated nationwide during the month of February. The Washington County Career Center joined in the celebration by hosting an Annual Career Fair for the county’s sophomores. In addition, the Washington County Career Center Board of Education honored outstanding contributors to career and technical education as part of the celebration.
During its February meeting, the board recognized Sandy Doudna, Jim Gilmore, David Hubbard, Kristin Meeks, and Loura Rinard, for their substantial contributions to the technical education programs at the Career Center – High School and Adult Technical Training.
Sandy Doudna is the Career Pathway Specialist for Ohio Valley Educational Service Center (OVESC). The OVESC is an educational service agency that serves 12 school districts and two career centers within four counties in southeastern Ohio – Guernsey, Monroe, Noble, and Washington counties. The OVESC has office locations in both Cambridge and Marietta, covers 2,200 square miles, and serves over 20,500 students. More than 50 types of services are provided to its member districts, with a majority being focused in preschool services, school improvement, and special education.
Doudna is a 1998 graduate from Shenandoah High School and a 2008 graduate of Ohio University where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Services. She has been employed with the OVESC since October 2015, when the Career Pathways program was first implemented. This program helps to support the OVESC’s high priority on building the workforce and economy in southeast Ohio through partnership with business and industry, and preparing students for college and career. Doudna provides career development services to students, teachers, administrators, and staff of partner school districts. She also connects business and industry partners and education to decrease the percentage of students who are not workforce or career ready by setting up job shadowing or tours so students may explore and identify which career path they may wish to take. To date, Doudna has over 103 local businesses, and numerous manufacturers, college, and career centers, who take part in letting students in the community have work-based learning opportunities through real-world and career-relevant experiences.
Jim Gilmore began working for the Human Resource Development Foundation, Inc. in July 2017 as the Career Specialist with the Adult/DW WIOA program. He works daily with customers that are either dislocated from a job and eligible for unemployment benefits or customers that are underemployed. Gilmore commented, “The most rewarding aspect of working as a Career Specialist is assisting customers to go from low or no income to a successful career. I’ve experienced many success stories over the years!” Gilmore began employment in the WIA program in October 2003. He came to the program as a DW from Corning/Schott Glass, a local plant that closed in 2001.
The HRDF was incorporated in 1967, as a social arm of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, for the purpose of providing economically disadvantaged West Virginians the opportunity for self-sufficiency and improved living conditions. Gilmore has made it his mission to learn as much as he can about the programs offered at the Career Center, as well as what each program provides and the jobs available after training. With that knowledge, he has been a powerful advocate of the school and understands the concept of hands-on training, by experienced instructors, with the goal of providing students the knowledge and skills needed to obtain employment in a short period with little cost. Recruiting & Marketing Specialist for the Career Center – Adult Technical Training commented, “Strong partnerships at our local WorkForce West Virginia offices are key to our continued success as a training provider in the Mid-Ohio Valley. We are fortunate to have someone of Jim’s caliber providing support, guidance and resources to those that need it most.”
Rev. David Hubbard is a United Methodist pastor appointed to the Cutler Chapel Methodist Church and the Belpre St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. He has served churches since 1980 and been a pastor in Washington County since 1988. Hubbard earned a BA from Kentucky Wesleyan College and a Master of Divinity Degree from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Additionally, he has served as the Executive Director for Belpre Area Ministries, is a volunteer for Harvest of Hope, and was recently named to the Board of Eve, Inc., which is an organization that provides shelter and resources for victims of domestic abuse.
Ohio’s Options/ASPIRE Coordinator for the Career Center – Adult Technical Training, Ella Bogard-Benedict exclaimed, “The St. Mark’s United Methodist Church is a wonderful facility with an elevator to the second-floor classroom, which makes it fully handicapped accessible. They encourage individuals to grow and gain the education needed to improve their lot in life along with their community. They are a most valuable asset to the ASPIRE program!”
Kristin Meeks is the owner of WV Social Media Consultant, LLC, which provides consulting and training in digital marketing to businesses and nonprofits across the United States. Meeks is a graduate of Marietta College and has a Master’s Degree from West Virginia University in Integrated Marketing Communications. After six years working in higher education, she left to begin her own business in 2010. She serves her community as a board member of the Belpre Chamber of Commerce, a member of Downtown PKB, and a member of Firefly – A Spark of Hope. Meeks is a past honoree of the Generation Next, WV State Journal’s 40 under 40, MOV Chamber, Young Business Leader of the Year, Women Owned Business of the Year, and Entrepreneur of the Year from the Belpre Chamber of Commerce.
In 2016, the Career Center commissioned Meeks to help create their Digital Marketing program, which launched in the fall of 2017. The Career Center’s Digital Marketing instructor, Lynette Snyder, commented, “Kristin’s experience and expertise has been vital in preparing for our new career-technical program. She has provided direction in establishing the new curriculum, helped with the recruitment process of our first class, and continues to give advice and guidance through this first school year.” Meeks has worked with both the high school and adult center in giving advice in content planning and recommendations for improving our presence on existing social media platforms and adding new ones.
Loura Smith-Rinard has been employed with St. Mary’s High School since December 2012 as their School Counselor. Previously, she was employed with Westbrook Health Services in a couple of different capacities beginning in 2005. She started as a Substance Abuse Therapist in the Outpatient Substance Unit, serving as an individual and group counselor. From there, she moved into the position of Mental Health Therapist in the Pleasants County Schools for two years before becoming a full-time employee with the school system as a counselor serving grades 11 and 12.
Rinard is a graduate of West Virginia University where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in 2004 and a Master’s Degree in 2006 in Social Work. In 2012, she earned her Master’s in Education from American Public University. Rinard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and an Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Recruiting & Marketing Specialist, Lori Smith, commented, “Loura never ceases to amaze us with her dedication to her profession and her students. She knows each student and works tirelessly to provide them with a sounding board and the resources needed to succeed after high school.” Smith further adds, “Loura ensures the Career Center – Adult Technical Training is a participant at the high school career day, college registration weeks, and provides informational sessions for us to speak with students.”
PHOTOS: Sandy Doudna, Jim Gilmore, David Hubbard, Kristin Meeks, Loura Smith-Rinard