Winona school employment program awarded $3k grant from area company

hiring sign in classroom

An area high school program will be able to continue teaching students important job skills through a new grant. Express Employment Professionals recently donated $3,000  to the Foundation for Winona Area Public Schools.

The ‘Work Experience Program’ is offered to Winona Senior High School Students with emotional, social or learning differences.
With a motto of “working to learn, learning to work” the grant will help them do just that.

Inside Patti Darbo’s classroom, students earn much more than just school credits.

“The goal is to teach kids how to be good workers, to be employees for the future,” said Darbo, a work-based learning teacher for Winona Senior High School.

The nearly 30 students in this course start with the basics. It could be as simple as showing up early to the job and not using a cell phone while working.

“Having a good attitude, being a good team player and having great communication skills. All those things help us all do our jobs,” Darbo said.

Through area partnerships with businesses, like Steak Shop Catering Services, the students put those skills to the test a few hours each day.

“For a lot of the students, it’s learning that prep, learning how to do the dishes, sweeping the floors, mopping the floors,” said Tiffany Kronebusch, manager for Steak Shop Catering Service.

Eligible students can get paid up to $10 an hour for their jobs around the community. But if they prove they have what it takes, they can earn even more than that.

“If they’re excelling with us at the job, we hire them on [and] allow them to become part of the team,” Kronebusch said.

It comes at a time when many area communities are experiencing a workforce shortage.

“So many employers are looking for people and there’s just not enough great people,” said Autumn Herber, direct hire recruiter for Express Employment Professionals.

That’s why Express has partnered with the program for years and wanted to give the grant money to it.

“A lot of them it’s their very first job. And those first jobs are jobs you’ll remember forever,” Herber said.

Hopefully, landing that first job will open more doors for them and help their employers for years to come.

News 8 Now will be reporting on our community’s need for more trained workers as part of our Workforce Ready project.  Click the Workforce Ready tab on for information on careers, job training programs, and job fairs in our area.