Julie Stone began working with LearningWorks’ Youth Building Alternatives program 3 years ago, in October of 2015. She found the opportunity through Jobs For Maine’s Graduates, a non-profit that has been partnering with LearningWorks for many years. As the resident JMG specialist, Julie serves as an educator and a mentor to students, providing them with job readiness skills and educational support. In addition, she is also the YBA program’s culinary arts teacher. “I remember getting my hopes up really high that I would get the job, because it combined two of my passions- cooking and teaching.”
Julie puts these passions to great use in the classroom, where she works one-on-one with students who come in to the YBA program. Youth Building Alternatives serves teens and young adults who have struggled to find their way in the traditional education system. Of her students, Julie says, “The students are amazing! There is something refreshing about working with this group of young adults. Many of the students have overcome some of the greatest challenges and barriers, yet they continue to shine and overcome their obstacles.”
The partnership between LearningWorks and JMG gives students a unique opportunity to overcome these obstacles. With the help of teachers like Julie and the rest of the YBA staff, students receive the support of two organizations in one place. Executive Vice President of JMG, Kim Lipp notes, “JMG’s longstanding partnership with LearningWorks is one of our most effective. In integrating our organization’s approach, we have seen students gain the skills and confidence needed to keep taking more steps toward post-secondary education and training after they graduate from YBA.”
Julie not only gives her students her own unwavering support and enthusiasm, but she enjoys bringing in community partners to engage each student’s interest as well. From chefs to local business owners, Julie is always looking to find a student’s passion and bring in talented and influential individuals to work with them and teach them ways to turn that passion in to a marketable skill.
As a teacher (and newly appointed Master JMG Specialist), one of Julie’s greatest joys is seeing her students come back after graduation to fill her in on their current successes. “It is so amazing to see students come in with so many barriers to education and work and to now see them living a full life and making something of their future.”
Photo by Molly Haley Photography