Staffing shortages within the Dalton Public Schools School Nutrition Department have created an opportunity for several students to gain valuable experience through on-the-job learning.
“It’s been great for the students and a great partnership” with school nutrition, said Larry Tripp, workplace learning coordinator for Dalton Public Schools.
Dalton High student Trinity Mouzon started working in the kitchen at Blue Ridge School a few weeks into this school year. Mouzon’s mother manages this kitchen
“They were understaffed in the kitchen, and I knew how stressful that was,” the Dalton senior said earlier this year. “I really like it here, and I will for the rest of the year if I can.”
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She worked with her counselor at Dalton High, Rachel Cobb, to arrange a schedule that allowed her to work three or four hours at Blue Ridge five days in each two-week period, helping out three days one week, then two the next, she mentioned. Although she takes care of children and drives cheers, it’s “my first real job”, and responsibility is the biggest thing she learned from this experience, she said. .
“Given a task, you have to do it,” because others rely on everyone to do their weight, she said. “If you’re not doing your thing, it’s hard for us to move forward.”
Working for her mother, Jonita Mouzon, is also an interesting dynamic, but “she makes me work and doesn’t treat me differently,” she says. “I like it, because I don’t want any special treatment.”
“She’s there to do a job like everyone else, but she’s used to me and knows how I work,” Jonita Mouzon said. “She’s been really, really good.”
It’s “great that she’s here, and she’s a very good worker with a good initiative who is happy to help others”, added Jonita Mouzon. “It’s a good first professional experience.”
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Depending on the day, Trinity Mouzon may be on the service line interacting with students or in the back preparing meals, and she is often tasked with cleaning efforts like washing dishes, she said. She plans to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to study nursing and become a nurse. “My favorite thing is seeing the kids, because they’re so funny and cute.”
A college student once noticed how young she was, so she said, “You’re young too,” and they both laughed, she said. “They always compliment me, and they’re so sweet.”
She receives credit for her work in her work-based learning course at school, and she also appreciates the paychecks, she said.
“I’m saving for a car, that’s my goal,” she said.
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Wyatt Brackett had previously participated in the Dalton Public Schools summer nutrition program — his mother, Wimberly, is director of nutrition for the school system — but “it’s more rigorous, because everyone is really in a rush at lunch “, did he declare. “In a way, it helps you deal with the pressure.”
Wyatt Brackett works several hours each weekday at Dalton Junior High School, where he can see his sister, Georgia Grace, and her friends, as well as several of his former teachers, he said. His former instructors “think it’s cool that I’m here”.
He started working in college on the first day of this school year, and he puts a portion of each paycheck into a savings account to pay for some of his college expenses at Lee University, where he will be part of the golf team, he said. The rest is “play money, (which) helps”.
“It’s a good opportunity and a good place to work,” he said. “I consider it to be very productive, and you always have to do something, go from one task to another.”
“You also have to work together and help each other,” he said. “Everyone works in sync.”
“I really like it, (and) it prepares me for future work,” he said. “Working with people different from me and responding to instructions and criticism builds character.”
Working in her school kitchen gave Dalton High senior Andrea Fraire a new perspective on serving meals.
“I learned here that it takes a lot of work to prepare meals for students,” said Fraire, who plans to enroll in Dalton State College’s nursing program after high school. “It’s something you don’t appreciate from the outside, but from this side it makes a lot more sense.”
She also honed her interpersonal skills in this environment, she said.
“It (requires) teamwork, so you have to be able to communicate with all the different people.”
Fraire started her job a few weeks into the 2021-22 college term, and she was better prepared for a cafeteria role than some other students might be because she already had a job at a local butcher shop, a- she declared.
“It made things a little easier.”
She works in the cafeteria two to three days a week for a few hours per shift, and “it’s pretty good,” she said. “Everyone is really nice here.”
The only downside is “sometimes I have less time for lunch” for itself, but the pros far outweigh the cons, including the fact “you get extra food for yourself”, she said with a smile. “I get credit for the class,” and because she earns money for the job, “it’s like I get paid to go to school.”
Fraire has been asked by several students about how they can work in the cafeteria, and she plans to continue in her role until she graduates, she explained earlier this year.
“It’s just a little time, but it makes a big difference.”