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Career Coaches, Dave Dollars helping GCHS students

Updated: Apr 29

Jenny Santee, Melani Sotelo-Leon, and Thillen Education Foundation board
To help with GCHS Junior Melani Sotelo-Leon’s public speaking skills, her coach Jenny Santee invited her to make a presentation to a group at the Santee’s home.

In August 2019, just as she was about to face the excitement and terror of becoming a high school freshman, Melani Sotelo-Leon learned she was going to meet someone who could change her life.

“I didn’t really understand what they were,” Melani told the Lake Oconee News recently. “I was thinking ‘I’m going to meet a new person. What if I don’t like them? What if they don’t like me?”

About 18 months earlier, Jenny Santee and her husband, Drew, had moved to Greene County from Missouri. Retired after a 30-year career as a teacher, she was looking for a way to continue to work with students as a volunteer. Someone told her that Greene County High School was struggling but the new Greene College and Career Academy (GCCA) was helping.

“Being from St. Louis,” she said, “I taught in a district that over the years experienced more and more challenges. I felt I was familiar with challenges. Then I realized that Greene County is up against a lot more than I really understood.”

At the time, Jenny became one of 55 community volunteers who, each year, have made a four-year commitment to provide career coaching from the time students enter ninth grade until they graduate from Greene County High School. Every ninth grader gets a career coach to help them prepare for a realistic career.

Coaches work with three to four students, meeting together each month to develop career plans and action steps. Jenny now coaches five students, including Melani.