Midd-West students earn experience, pay in work-study program

Jan. 29—MIDDLEBURG — Midd-West High School senior Ryland Portzline spends about 12 hours each week working on computers with members of the district's IT department.

"I'm going to college for something in (the technology) field," said Portzline who's glad to have the opportunity to gain some experience while in high school and get paid for his work.

He's one of 23 students in the district's work-study program that provides seniors and juniors experience in an area of interest they intend to pursue after graduation.

Everyone placed in a work-study position outside the district is paid while only some working positions in the school district are compensated, said work study advisor Denya Burris.

Portzline earns $10 an hour for the work he does in the IT department and the administration has asked the board to consider payments to other students, like senior Lydia Dehoff, who works as an unpaid teacher's aide in the middle school, as well as students in the school-to-work program aiding staff in the cafeteria and maintenance department.

"Lydia works two jobs outside of school and is taking the most classes," said Burris who is advocating for all students in the program to receive payment as she works to expand the work-study program. "They've been a huge support for the district."

Dehoff would appreciate being financially compensated but said the experience she's gaining working with younger students is invaluable since she plans to pursue an education degree and would like to return to Midd-West as an agricultural teacher.

"I'm getting to know the kids and really like the FFA teachers," she said.

Portzline smiled when asked about being able to come to school each weekday and work in his preferred field four days a week while earning a few dollars.

"I've learned a ton," he said.

"He's got more experience than I do," joked network administrator Collin Snyder, who joined the district about a month ago.

"This is what we're all about. We're here to teach and train," said Midd-West's supervisor of technology Scott Johnson, who appreciates having Portzline help troubleshoot some of the hundreds of computers that come through his department.

As Portzline worked on a laptop last week, 350 boxes containing new laptops were stacked in a pile in the middle of the room.

"There will be a summer job opportunity," said Johnson.