Batesville WIN Job Center

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Husband, wife praise job program for fresh starts

By John Howell Sr.

One of the display spaces at the upcoming Northwest Mississippi Job Fair will be occupied by the host itself, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security’s WIN Job Center.

For job seekers, it should be more than a perfunctory stop.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

From the Batesville WIN Center representatives, either at the Job Fair or in the office at 103 Woodland Road, job seekers can learn about job placement, school funding, resume preparation and job readiness.

It is the school funding that husband and wife Beth and Brandon Burchfield of Tippo can tell you about. They were both heavily immersed in life — “three children and a herd of dogs and cats” between them, both working for the Mississippi Department of Corrections in jobs that offered little opportunity for promotion or increased income.

For Beth, there was even more incentive to change jobs. She had been a corrections officer at the Parchman prison for 10 years. Threatening encounters with inmates were occurring more frequently, she said.

She had accumulated enough college hours previously that she was ineligible for Pell Grants. Using her credit card, she paid for her first semester of nurse’s training at Northwest Mississippi Community College. It was soon obvious that could “max out her credit card and still be wearing (the) blue uniform” of a corrections officer, Beth said.

Though she did not think she would qualify, she checked with the WIN Job Center, seeking help for further schooling.

“They were wonderful,” Beth continued. She was enrolled in a program that paid her books, tuition and other expenses that allowed her to complete her training to become a registered nurse.

Beth Burchfield was assisted by a MDES Individual Training Account (ITA), Batesville WIN Job Center interviewer/supervisor Rhonda Cook said. The program is open to qualified applicants seeking training for certain high demand occupations — like registered nurses, Cook said. Funding comes to the WIN Job Center through the Delta Workforce Investment Area.

After completing her training at Northwest, Beth stayed with the Department of Corrections but as an R.N.

Meanwhile, Brandon decided that what’s sauce for the goose could be sauce for the gander.

He was a property officer at Parchman but saw little opportunity for advancement amid cutbacks and reorganization.

“I talked to Rhonda and applied for the same program,” Brandon said, that was paying for his wife’s training as a nurse. He enrolled at Northwest that trains students for another high demand occupation — tool and die maker.

“Without the (Individual Training Accounts) program, there’s no way both of us could have returned to school,” Brandon said.

Upon completion of training, Brandon was awarded Associates of Applied Sciences degree from Northwest along with classmate Ethan Simmerman of Sardis. Both had entered the NWCC tool and die program through the WIN Job Center’s Individual Training Accounts; both had earned grades that placed them on the President’s List.

“I told him he did it the smart way,” Brandon said of his classmate Simmerman who entered the program immediately after high school.

Now Brandon Burchfield and Simmerman are among the newest employees hired by Batesville’s GE Aviation facility.

“If you can go back to school to learn about something you’re interested in and make some money while you’re at it, you’ll enjoy it,” Brandon said.

The Burchfields and Simmerman are among 151 MDES “customers” who have utilized ITA training to become more competitive in the job market, Cook said.

Job seekers who attend the July 15 Job Fair — whether unemployed or employed and looking for a better job — can learn about how to qualify for school money at the MDES booth.