“Each semester, we gear up for a full roster of programs and excitedly think about all of the opportunities and hands-on experiences our youth will have thanks to our team and the amazing volunteers that help make our programs possible.
But this past fall was extra special because we were back in the classroom with our youth!
“It was so wonderful being back in person,” Kerry Morgan, our High School Program Coordinator said. “After a year and a half of virtual programming, it’s been amazing seeing our youth come back and reconnect with each other and with folks from On The Road.”
Our Founder and President, Brent Holsinger, agrees.
“Being back in person with our youth has helped us re-connect and foster deeper relationships with each of them. And it meant we were able to get back to providing our 10-week Career Enrichment Courses led by our extraordinary Community Teachers.”
After our team navigated a series of pandemic related challenges in September – from staffing and bus driver shortages to changes to the school schedule – we successfully launched in-person programs at all three of our schools on October 4, 2021.
In addition to having some of our favorite staples, including Police Academy, Fishing is Fun, and Emerging Chefs, among others, we had some new classes and Community Teachers, including Cartography and Stock Market!
“Last semester was a huge success, and the feedback we received proved how much the youth enjoyed returning to in-person programming.” Emani Morse, our Director of Middle School Programs and Data, said.
Take a look at some of the highlights from both our middle school and high school programs below!
Middle school youth in our Emerging Chefs course.
Our middle school students had the chance to take some of our long-time favorites, including Emerging Chefs, Fishing is Fun, and SPCA, among others.
They also had the chance to explore various career paths and connect with our community during Aviation, 911, and Fire & Rescue.
Youth during Fishing is Fun (left photo) and Aviation (right photo).
Youth during our Fire & Rescue Career Enrichment Course.
Our wonderful middle schoolers also had the chance to explore their strengths and passions during Find Your Grind, where youth have the chance to learn how to prepare for their future by learning more about themselves, where they want to be, and how to get there.
Emani said some of the classes our middle school youth also seemed to enjoy this semester were Cosmetology and Playwriting.
As we start to prepare for next semester, Emani said the excitement is growing already!
“This spring semester, we hope to bring even more exciting Career Enrichment opportunities to each school,” Emani said. “I’m personally looking forward to having Mock Trials return, adding Magic to the list, and seeing what Hospitality is all about!”
Our high school youth also had the opportunity to explore various career paths last semester with their own Career Enrichments, including Emerging Chefs and Earth Club!
“Emerging Chefs continues to be one of our most popular programs and they were always cooking up something delicious and often new to them,” Kerry said, adding that having everyone back together for our 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grade Academies was also a blast this semester.
“I just really valued the connection that we were able to foster with our youth and see them create and tackle new goals.” Kerry said. “I hope that we were able to provide some sense of normalcy and stability in a time where things feel anything but normal.”
Kerry said she’s also really looking forward to next semester.
“I am so excited to tackle the new semester! We have some really cool career enrichments and partnerships, like with Molson-Coors and Sentara, and of course our cornerstone programs will be back like Emerging Chefs and Voices. We’re also still planning to take our Academy youth on the three day college trip over Spring Break.”
Our youth did have the chance to take some field trips this fall, which was amazing to get to do again. And, of course, our semester ended with a Learning Showcase.
“Our Learning Showcase events were as special as ever, with our youth leading and “teaching-back” what they had learned this past semester to their families and community guests,” Brent said, as seen below.
As we reflect on the fall semester, we are incredibly grateful to all of our Community Teachers who helped make it such a wonderful success! We’d also like to say a special thank you to MTC who partnered with us this past semester to teach several trade-related Career Enrichment Courses.
And a huge thank you to all of our amazing Community Teachers: Kristen, Fatimah, and Kristi, our amazing Emerging Chefs team; Trevor Chase for leading Earth Club; Jeff Peake for teaching Fishing is Fun; Heidi Wheeler and Ashley Armstrong of Massanutten Technical Center for teaching Cosmetology; Todd Gardner, who led Aviation; Brent Holsinger for teaching Stock Market; Kishia Taylor for teaching STEM Sports; Dacia of Rockingham Harrisonburg SPCA for leading our SPCA Career Enrichment; Michael Sherman of Harrisonburg Rockingham Emergency Communications Center (ECC) for teaching 911; Allison Smith for leading Cartography; Mark Gabriele for leading Greys Anatomy; Erin Stehl of Harrisonburg Fire Department for teaching Fire & Rescue; Melissa Quesenberry and the Harrisonburg Police Department for showcasing a career at the Police Department; Justin Poole for leading Theater and Playwriting; Amelia Montesano for teaching Dental Assistance; our amazing Youth Leaders for teaching Video Game Design, Decorating, Find Your Grind, and Mindfulness: Yoga; and Tiffany Estep of Massanutten Technical Center for leading Veterinary Science.
We can’t wait to resume our programs for the spring semester on January 24th and to continue empowering local youth with educational opportunities and hands-on career experiences!