Project WOW students learning demolition skills on site at Orleans Technical College.
Since March there has been a worldwide transition from in-person learning to the virtual classroom. Among those that made the conversion was JEVS Project WOW, a free program that offers 24-weeks of skills training, GED test preparation, and job placement assistance for Philadelphians between the ages of 18–24 who did not complete high school.
With the re-opening of Orleans Technical College earlier this month, Project WOW students have been able to resume in-person instruction, and they couldn’t be happier about it.
“They are thrilled to be back at Orleans,” said program assistant Barbara Parker. “And staff members feel the same way. It’s amazing to be able to see the students. They’ve been engaged on Zoom, but to see them in person, it’s completely different.”
“My experience with JEVS Project WOW has been nothing less than life changing.” – Bayir H.
To ensure the safety of returning students, Orleans has implemented a wide array of measures and precautions in response to the still-present COVID-19 virus. Temperatures are taken upon arriving, and masks are required to be worn by everyone — students and instructors alike. Classrooms, workshops and offices are set up to ensure six feet social distancing. And there are sanitizing stations with wipes and hand sanitizer throughout the building.
“Everyone is complying with the safety measures and we’ve had no problem,” said Parker. “They’re just super excited to get their hands on tools and get busy!”
Project WOW students can choose one of two training options. The Building Trades track provides training in basic property maintenance & repair; and the Computer Technology track offers instruction in computer skills and repair.
On the first day of in-person instruction, Computer Tech students were given a laptop and a small tool set. Students in Building Trades received a tool bag chock full of literal tools of the trade, including hammer, hacksaw, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, tape measure and more, plus essential safety equipment like carpenter’s apron, flex work gloves, and goggles.
In addition to tools, many students also received incentives (in the form of gift cards in value of up to $100 each) for accomplishments made during the virtual phase of learning. Since going virtual, four students have already earned their Penn Foster high school equivalency diploma, four received their OSHA 10 certification (signifying they completed 10 hours of OSHA training ), and two received OSHA 30 certification (for 30 hours). Several students finished some combination of them or even all three, and one student earned a total of $325 for completing them all plus an additional Hilti certification.
Training for the Building Trades track will continue until sometime in October, while Computer Tech training is set to conclude August 13, with the goal to move those students into the IT Pre-Apprenticeship program to continue on an IT (Information Technology) track. That program starts August 17.
Project WOW in Their Own Words
Bayir H., Building Trades
My experience with JEVS Project WOW has been nothing less than life changing. Even with COVID-19 taking our city, country, and the entire globe by storm , the staff and instructors are giving me and my teammates all of the materials and motivation we have needed. I have been blessed to receive my Penn Foster High School diploma and I’ve obtained my driver’s license. I also have 3 new certifications including my OSHAs 10 & 30 along with my Hilti. I’m very grateful & thankful for this program. It means the world to me.
Siarah B., Computer Tech
I love the program. The staff motivates me every single day. They check in all the time and are always on top of us, pushing us. They understand us and are willing to work with us just as long as we are working with them. If it wasn’t for them I would have given up, honestly! Thank you all so much. Just know you are very appreciated!
Ian M., Building Trades
What can I say about Project WOW. It’s probably the best thing to ever happen to me. They staff are amazing and push me to achieve goals I never believed I could. I am going to be getting my high school diploma, OSHA 10 certification all within a short period of time. I am learning so much more than I probably have in high school. I gotta say it’s the greatest program out there and I would not be doing anything or be as determined to do thing in my life as I am today. I thank all the staff at Project WOW for helping me and my fellow classmates achieve greatness.