MaryEllen Brocklehurst, Eaton RESA Career Preparation Center, Charlotte, Michigan
As a Student Services Coordinator at Eaton RESA Career Preparation Center in Charlotte, Michigan, MaryEllen Brocklehurst says her passion is providing guidance and support for career and technical education students by giving them a jump start into their adult lives and careers. Brocklehurst teaches career development and provides daily support for teachers in the classroom. She has an opportunity to get to know her students personally through the construction, welding, automotive collision and automotive technology CTE programs at Eaton RESA. “As a coordinator, sometimes I’m an administrator, sometimes I’m a teacher. I help them connect the dots—whether they want to continue their education, enlist into the military, or find work immediately after school,” she says.
Because the Career Preparation Center is located on the west campus of Lansing Community College, Brocklehurst’s students have the opportunity to receive direct college credit if they meet the requirements. Her students come to the college campus five days a week, two hours a day, and return to high school for the remainder of the school day.
She is proud to boast that students from Eaton RESA are heavily involved with a variety of different organizations including SkillsUSA, FFA, BTA and HOSA. They compete at local, state and national competitions—with her students competing at National SkillsUSA for the last 10 years. In fact, Brocklehurst has held a SkillsUSA state officer position for the last seven years and is currently the State Treasurer for Michigan.
As part of career development, she provides credentialing and certification opportunities including OSHA 10-Hour safety training. Brocklehurst explains that many of the programs she is assigned as a Student Services Coordinator have an OSHA requirement: “Once we found out that [CareerSafe] is the same training that students get in OSHA classes, we adopted that model.” In addition to OSHA 10-Hour safety training, Brocklehurst’s students also become first aid and CPR certified; while each CTE program receives further credentialing opportunities specific to their field.
As CTE students and competitors for many organizations, knowledge about safety is one of the most important things her students can learn. “Safety is absolutely critical for them. It gives students, even if they don’t go into a technical career, information about their legal rights and awareness about safety.” She wants them to know they have the right to advocate for themselves and others if the workplace is not up to safety and health standards. “I think a lot of teenagers, even though they are protected in the workplace, don’t know that they are.”
She explains that an industry recognized credential is valuable for her students not only because it is a lifetime credential but that it helps them even as young workers. “Some of my students are required to apply for apprenticeships and having [a credential] to take with them really helps them stand out,” Brocklehurst continues, “Having credentials gives them an introduction and that leg up over others.” Countless students from Eaton RESA have entered the job market with high paying jobs upon their high school graduation. “I have a special interest in students that are facing adversities be that family, academic or personal. Getting to see those kids excel, I’m blown away.” One student in particular exemplifies the kind of success that makes her job so wonderful. “During his senior year, he applied for an apprenticeship for a utility company. He was a kind kid with a great work ethic, and didn’t let his special needs get in the way of succeeding. He was introverted, shy and not confident, but once he found his niche he really blossomed,” she shares. Now at 21, he is a supervisor making $40 per hour. Brocklehurst says that there are many other stories of students accomplishing great things.