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Community coach slots open
Volunteers help kids with career path
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Forsyth County News
To volunteer as a community coach, contact  Nicole McCoy at (770) 205-1701 or e-mail

By the end of winter break, Nicole McCoy is confident all 13 middle and high schools in Forsyth will have a community coach.

McCoy, executive director of nonprofit family partnership Community Connection, said she needs just four more business leaders to volunteer to help graduation coaches.

"They can do things as simple as participating in a mock interview to help them prepare for even just applying to a part-time job," McCoy said. "These students genuinely are the future employees that they could be working with now."

The community coach initiative was began at the high school level last year in response to Gov. Sonny Perdue's graduation coach program, which encourages students to earn their diplomas.

Like Perdue's initiative, community coaches have since branched out into middle school.

While graduation coaches work with students to lower dropout rates, community coaches work to show students what options await.

McCoy is not only in charge of recruiting volunteers, she is entering her second year as a community coach.

"It's just really exciting to see kids getting engaged and feeling that the community really does care about them," she said. "So often teenagers, in their day-to-day life, don't realize how much their community cares about them. And this helps bring it to more of a personal level."

Community coaches work with graduation coaches in each school to develop strategies to reach students. They can provide job shadowing and help plan field trips. They can also lead work site tours, become a mentor or sponsor internships and summer jobs.

Suzanne Graff, who performs independent financial services with World Finance Group, volunteered to be a coach at Forsyth Central High School this year.

Graff said she wanted to get more involved with the community and was excited when McCoy contacted her about the program.

"I was hoping that I would get Central, because that's where my son went," she said.

Graff said she will focus on the basics of "how money works."

"I really don't see or feel that they're taught that in school, or ways for them to plan for their future at a very minimal cost, by starting early, having time on their side."

Kevin Smith, community outreach specialist for Keep Forsyth County Beautiful, will have a different challenge when he volunteers at Vickery Middle School.

Unlike other for-profit businesses, Smith is representing a nonprofit organization.

"We're fairly unique because we do have nonprofit status," he said. " But seeing the reaction and the interest in environmental jobs right now - because things are a little different than they were two to three years ago and there seems to be interest in this field - I'm anxious to see how much has filtered down to this age group.

"I think a lot of them are curious to see what it really entails."
Smith, who worked as a paraprofessional at Vickery Elementary for six years, said he's especially excited because he'll have a chance to coach some of his former students.

McCoy said she still needs volunteers for Little Mill, Liberty and North Forsyth middle schools, as well as South Forsyth High School.

"I have to admit, I went into this situation with a bit of nervousness," she said. "... Would I be able to connect with these kids?

"But they really are fantastic kids, and they are really excited ... so I'm really excited to be able to dig in again and see how I can help to coach even more."