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Former Herkimer BOCES child and family services
student provides advice to current students

Oct. 24, 2016



Child and family services juniors pose with former student Amy Thomas and instructor Kim Fragetta
Former Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES child and family services student Amy Thomas is now a vocational rehabilitation counselor for Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) and recently returned to talk to the child and family services junior and senior classes. Her daughter, Shaylynn Smith, is a junior in the program. Pictured here, Thomas (standing, on the far right) poses with instructor Kim Fragetta, Smith and the rest of the junior child and family services students on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Herkimer BOCES.



HERKIMER – A former student of the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES child and family services program whose daughter is now in the class recently came back to talk to students about her career.

Amy Thomas, graduated in 1995 from what is now known as the child and family services class. She told students how she went on to earn an associate degree, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, did internships, worked other jobs, went through civil service requirements and earned her certification before reaching her current job as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR).

Her career path, however, all started at Herkimer BOCES.

“I know the foundation I got here led me to where I am today,” she said.

Thomas visited Herkimer BOCES child and family services instructor Kim Fragetta’s junior and senior classes on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Thomas’s daughter, Shaylynn Smith, of Central Valley Academy, is a junior in the program.

Fragetta told students she asked Thomas to speak with them as an example of how the child and family services program can lead to a variety of career paths.

“Remember, I always say this class isn’t just about being a teacher,” Fragetta said. “There are other ways you can benefit families and children with what you do.”

At ACCESS-VR, Thomas counsels people with physical, mental, developmental and other disabilities to try to get them into jobs that can become careers. She works people who are juniors in high school all the way up – including people in their 80s.

“We counsel them on what career paths are best for them,” she said.

It’s amazing to see what a difference having a job can make in someone’s life.

“Those cases are why I’m in this job,” she said. “I love the job. It’s very rewarding.”

Thomas said she has a large caseload of about 205 people. She likes to be busy and have every day feel different, she said.

“The biggest key in our job is time management,” she said.

Thomas recommended students talk to people doing jobs they’re interested in because she has found that helpful.

“You’ll learn so much more by sitting down and talking to people than doing research on it,” she said.

Thomas credits the child and family services program for giving her a foundation from working with children.
She also talked about the reading, writing, mathematics and computer skills she uses during her job, and she said observations students do in child and family services for child study reports are good preparation for the observational aspects of case notes she puts together.

“Observing, what you’ve learned here, that is definitely something that will transfer into this job,” she said.

Smith said she has talked to her mother about her job and her background before, but it was interesting to hear from her in a different setting.

“Seeing her be able to talk to my classmates about it was pretty fun,” Smith said.

Smith and Thomas talked about various programs at Herkimer BOCES, and Smith knew she was interested in working with little children, so Thomas suggested the child and family services program could be a good path for her as well, Smith said.

Child and family services student Kimberley Ford, a senior of West Canada Valley, also said she found hearing from Thomas to be very helpful.

“It gave me a more positive view on what I want to do when I complete the program,” Ford said.





 
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