The Caring Force Blog Workforce Heroes Spotlight: WORK Inc.’s Pre-ETS Team

The Caring Force is excited to announce that our December Workforce Heroes are David Herron, Tova Pitler and Jacquan Mckenzie of WORK Inc.’s Pre-ETS Team. As a team, they are responsible for introducing students to the possibilities of careers and work opportunities after high school. The individuals participate in job exploration, workplace readiness, work-based learning, self-advocacy/determination and post-secondary counseling.

 L-R David Herron, Tova Pitler, and Jacquan Mckenzie

We asked David, Tova, and Jacquan about their incredible work:

What can you tell us about the work that the three of you do?

All: “Our goal is to inspire and prepare high school students for their future. At the end of high school, some students will choose to join the workforce; other students decide to continue their education; and some may have no idea of what their future holds. No matter their current stance, we support their decisions. We prepare our students to take on the world as professionals.”

How have you all managed to cope with the challenges of working in a pandemic?

Tova: “When the schools closed, I primarily worked with the deaf students; WORK Inc. offered me an opportunity to work in the residential division. While working in group homes, I took extra precautions as I have a young daughter at home.”

David: “The pandemic has demonstrated to be challenging. I have had to work on setting myself up to be effective at home. I had to designate a specific space in my house, free from distractions, to remain focused. Delivering services to our students took time as it was a transition to remote for all of us. The team created a curriculum that provides various exciting activities and more creativity for students, thus keeping students engaged.”

Jacquan – “Working from home was a challenge – not one that I was 100 percent prepared for under the circumstances. At first, I was spending so much time indoors, which was not good for my mental health. Over the past few months, I realized that I’m more focused outside of the home. Instead of working from my house, I have found remote locations where I am more focused and engaged with the students. I’ve come to realize the importance of mental health and how these changes affect everyone around us. We must take time for ourselves and reset all of the stresses that might have been brought upon us these past few months.”

How did you choose a career in human services?

Tova: “I graduated from college and offered a job in human services. I took it and I love to work with children/adults ever since.”

David: “I knew this career was for me because I have a passion for helping people. From an early age, I found myself as a selfless young man, always wanting to listen to others and always helping people. When I landed in my department, I just knew; I knew working youth was where I needed to be. I knew the importance of the work that we do. I am where I need to be!”

Jacquan: “I always found myself wanting to help people but wasn’t sure in what capacity I could. I felt like I wanted to inspire people to do better and become their best selves without the pressure of being graded or judged for their ideas. Going into college, I had zero ideas of what I wanted to do for a career. I spent two years in college before choosing a major. I wish someone had taken me aside in high school and introduced me to many careers out in the world. So I decided to fill the hole that I felt was missing for me in high school.”

What is your favorite memory from working in human services?

Tova: “My favorite memory from working in human services is seeing the children and adults achieve personal growth, independence and enjoy their life.”

David: “One memory that I had was the first time I presented the Pre-ETS program on my own. Being the first time doing something like this, I was nervous and anxious, but the results were outstanding. So many people were happy that I was able to do this so well. I am naturally shy, so getting feedback from peers with positive reviews was one of the best memories I’ve had.”

Jacquan: “My favorite memory so far is taking the students on field trips to job shadow different companies. Google is one of my favorite places to visit and possibly partner with one day. Google shows our students how fun a workplace can be and that there isn’t just one path to getting a job. Google hires its employees based on their knowledge and what they can produce instead of only their education and accolades. It is inspiring for our students who may not pass an exam but are incredible organizers, planners, troubleshooters and coders. Google is very innovative and not just a company for people who are into computers.”

Thank you to David, Tova, Jacquan and all the other tireless staff helping to provide services to clients and families throughout the pandemic. You are the Commonwealth’s human services heroes!

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