MCHS and Norquest partner for Administrative Professionals program

From left: MCHS principal Don Hinks, teacher Michelle Receveur, and Vice Principal Wade Michael stand in the computer lab that will be converted to the Administrative Professionals Program room.

by Stephen Dafoe

Morinville Community High School will be offering students some real-world job skills thanks to a partnership with Norquest College. The 11-month program, the only one available in Sturgeon County, is a tuition-free dual-credit program, giving participants high school and post-secondary credits simultaneously.

The Administrative Professionals Program will teach business office procedures, business communications, event management, and professional relations. Additionally, students will learn their way around a variety of software, including Microsoft Word, Outlook, and Excel, as well as keyboarding, and accounting.

“I think everything that these students are going to learn is going to teach them how to be good workers,” said MCHS teacher and program instructor Michelle Receveur. “We’re going to talk about that community relations, the hands-on tech stuff they are going to need while they’re working. This [program] is absolutely going to work for them in whatever job they have.”

Receveur sees the program as valuable for students not planning to take up business administration as a career.

“Whatever they do decide to do – everything they learn in this program, they’ll be able to bring to the table as part of their skills,” Receveur said.”

The instructor points out that students will find the program is different than a high school class regarding attendance, work ethic, and even dress code.

“It’s not going to feel like a high school course,” she said. “Hopefully, that will excite students that it is a college course in a high school. You’re taking your education to the next level.”

Principal Don Hinks said the program’s 18 spots would be filled primarily by the school’s returning Grade 12 students.

“This is a $6,000 program that kids get for free,” Hinks said. “Because we’re bringing Norquest in here, all we are asking is a $500 deposit. If they pass the course, they get their money back.”

Hinks said the school is investing more than $100,000 into the program through its budget and a $30,000 grant from Alberta Education grant funding. They will convert a computer lab at the school to the program room. The funding will be for the conversion, computers, wiring and tech, as well as textbooks for the program.

“What our surveys told us is that students want real-life, practical skills they can use in the workforce,” Hinks said. “Well, it doesn’t get any more practical than this.”

The 11-month program includes a one-month practicum at the end. Hinks said the school’s work experience lead would set the students up with a local business in town to gain experience.

“The retention rate in a lot of these programs is about 90 per cent,” Hinks said. “So if a person gets on and does a good job, chances are the business keeps them on. It gets their foot in the door and gives them a different set of skills they might not otherwise have.”

Vice Principal Wade Michael said the dual-credit program would also give students the opportunity to get their feet wet with post-secondary education before actually entering it.

“We’re now throwing it [the program] out there to parents,” Michael said. “There’s lots of interest. Parents are really interested because they are seeing an opportunity for their son or daughter; especially the kid who doesn’t know what they’re doing next year. This [program] is being offered to them for free, so that has really caught the eye of a lot of people.”

As of the writing of this article, five of the 18 spots have been taken. There is a $500 deposit held until course completion. Hinks said families that find the $500 deposit a struggle can contact the school for arrangements.

For more information, contact MCHS at 780-939-6891.

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