AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - Reaching Potential through Manufacturing is a high school program with the Richmond County School System that allows students to spend half their day learning in the classroom and the other half learning through hands-on experience as EZ-Go employees.
The students earn a paycheck from Textron and a vocational certificate in manufacturing all while working toward their high school degree.
The program changed the life of an Augusta 17-year-old - Maurcio Duarte. He's this week's High 5 4 Kids honoree.
School didn't always come easy for Mauricio.
"When I first started here, I didn’t like to come to school because I couldn’t sit down for eight hours and do just school work, so I would go to work usually," he said.
"Having to make good choices, and being a young adult, he didn’t make the best ones at times, but he learned from it," Lydell Daniels, said Mauricio's Reaching Potential through Manufacting supervisor. "I actually saw him working out at the car wash one day, and so he showed me that he always had the potential to work."
Maurio said that when he started at Reaching Potential through Manufacturing he had poor attendance, but now that's all changed.
"We take in the most at risk students," the school's principal Dr. Jason Moore said. "Their experience up until now is a lot of just gaining confidence, both just in themselves and their ability to do something, to do the job, and when they start doing that job, and making a parts, and being part of that team, and making a paycheck, and kind of take care of themselves - at that point we start to see them pick their heads up."
"Here they actually work with you throughout everything,"Mauricio said. "If you need help with something they'll call a mentor or something, down from Textron, to help you out with the schoolwork."
"I've watched him grow into a great young man," Daniels said. "He’s one of my top performers. We actually rated him today, and he had the highest rating that he could receive from his floor work. Great attitude and I can just say I’ve watched him mature."
On top of the satisfaction that comes from a job well done and a pay check, the school's principal sends the students inspirational text messages. Daniels said those messages have translated into success in the classroom and on the floor.
"The text that Dr. Moore sends out - that’s just an every day thing," Mauricio said, "and reading them every day, going back through it at night - he just really wants you to make an impact on your life."
"I want to say thank you for everything you’ve done for me," Mauricio said of those who've made the program possible. "You’ve really made me overcome my fear of school, and work and everything."
So what is Dr. Moore's best advise for student? "I think once they find out that strength, that they're superstars, that belief - is to hold onto that."
“If you work hard for something, then you can achieve it,” Daniels said, “and I believe that he’s embodied that and if he takes that with him, it’ll take him as far as he wants to go in life.”