- Sponsorship -

New coordinator will be face of career-work experience effort

Angela Lewis leads key component of district’s push to prepare students for workforce

Angela Lewis said she feels like she’s the perfect person to be Northview High School’s face of the connection between hallways and area businesses.

“This is a job made in heaven for what I’m passionate about: helping people understand where they fit,” Lewis said. “My favorite thing in the world is seeing those lightbulbs go on.”

As the new work experience coordinator since fall, Lewis’ role includes creating job opportunities for juniors and seniors, serving as a liaison with businesses, and making sure students hone skills employers want them to master.

“I want to be the go-to for our community for those entry-level jobs,” she said. “I want the community to want Northview students for those jobs, and for Northview students to want to work with those employers. Establishing that relationship is key.”

Over the first semester, Lewis worked with 51 seniors who are enrolled in the school’s work-study class. Nearly 50 more students were added for the current semester.

Open to juniors and seniors, the work-study class already was available to students who had jobs.

“I want to make it more proactive, and let (students and business owners) know that I exist to help you and I want to help you,” Lewis said. “I am working on long-term relationships so that we have a pipeline of students and positions that we can match up as we grow the program.”

Related: New program aims to get students to graduation, expand career pathways

Principal Mark Thomas said Lewis “brings a lot of relevancy” to the position with a background that includes teaching, business and recruiting.

“Northview has a big vision (for career readiness), and is trying to be cutting edge in the area, in the nation. That’s a big reason I’m here,” Lewis said. “Identifying someone with specific career experience shows they want to take it to the next level, which is exciting for me.”

Angela Lewis, the high school’s new work experience coordinator, hopes to become a familiar face among Plainfield corridor businesses

Finding her Passion

A native of Grand Haven, Lewis earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Baker College. Her plan was to use that degree in the corporate world. But as a project manager for an insurance company in Colorado, she said, she realized, “I don’t like this at all, and I went to school for this.”

Instead, she answered a plea for teachers at Denver Public Schools. She thought it would be temporary, but “I fell in love with it. I was head over heels from day one, and thought, this is where I need to be.”

She spent a few years teaching high school business and technology, for a time at a suburban Colorado school under — talk about a small world — former Northview Superintendent Michael Paskewicz. She has since earned a master’s degree in education leadership and supervision.

Lewis has been an adjunct professor since 2005 in the business department at Grand Rapids Community College. She rejoined the corporate world for a while as director of talent acquisition for a national property management company, where she led a team of hiring managers and recruiters.

Her two daughters — a freshman and a sixth grader at Highlands Middle — have attended Northview since preschool. 

Employers complete periodic evaluations of student employees, which Lewis reviews with them and with students
Employers complete periodic evaluations of student employees, which Lewis reviews with them and with students

About Empowerment

At Northview High, Lewis meets with juniors and seniors enrolled in work-based learning at the beginning of the semester to review paperwork and discuss their placement. She does site visits throughout the semester, then meets with students at least twice more per semester to go over reviews from employers.

She calls upon her own varied work experience to make connections students might not have realized.

“I want to make the link for them, to be able to meet with them and say ‘Awesome, you’re working at CelebrationCinema! and really liking it. Let’s talk about the skills you’re learning so you can use them to your advantage in future careers.’”

Even seemingly negative work experiences are valuable, she said.

Lewis recalled a student who stopped by her office to tell her he had been fired. She invited him to sit down. “I said, ‘Let’s talk this through. Let’s ask, what do you want to know and how are you going to go about getting those answers?’ These kids haven’t been empowered in the workplace so much yet.”

Becoming empowered in the program is part of her goal. The state of Michigan requires that every student enrolled in workplace learning has a training plan in order to earn credit.

This semester, Lewis said, “I am going to have them create their own training plan — with my guidance — something that they map out that says what they want to get from this, where they want to go.”

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


Good behavior encouraged at home

For students learning from home, positive behavior rewards are still possible...

Discovering bugs by tying flies

Northview’s coordinator of outdoor experiences, a fly-fishing aficionado, used the sport to teach elementary students about macroinvertebrates and making their own flies...

Pen pals build bonds during remote learning

How does a teacher create get-to-know-you opportunities for her new class of third-grade distance learners?

Have books, will deliver

To make sure virtual students still have access to books, this middle school media clerk built her own online platform for the library, created a contactless book pick-up at the school and is delivering books to students at their homes...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Discovering bugs by tying flies

Northview’s coordinator of outdoor experiences, a fly-fishing aficionado, used the sport to teach elementary students about macroinvertebrates and making their own flies...

Mental health checks and career exploration find virtual home in school districts

A tool students can use with their phones is opening doors to careers -- many of them local -- and giving administrators a read on emotional wellness...

‘Soul of Northview’ Says Students Are the Reward

Ted Burba, a longtime and beloved teacher for Northview Public Schools who retired this fall, died early this week after a long illness. In tribute to his lasting legacy, School News Network republishes this profile of Mr. Burba that originally ran in 2016 to honor his 50th year of teaching...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU