PTC seeks the help of Lavender

BY SKYLA LUCKEY, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG —Carl Lavender, Jr., was put on this earth to help people in the community move in a productive direction, and he’s doing that by working as the senior consultant of Capacity-Building Strategy for Pinellas Technical College (PTC).

Lavender has worked with PTC for the past two-and-a-half years and recently signed another year’s contract. He’s helped implement the upcoming program called First Career Academy (FCA) at PTC in partnership with the City of St. Petersburg. This program will provide substantial internships for students ages 18-25, and will also serve as an intensive GED program for 16-25 year olds.

“Our goal is to recruit 100 people in the program, and it will be very hands-on and offer a significant dose of guidance for these students,” Lavender said.

Lavender’s job is to advise the administration on how to get the program off the ground. Guidance will be given to potential and enrolled students so they will feel welcomed and comfortable with the choice they’ve made to further their education/plan.

He explained that a year’s worth of guidance will be offered to the students of the program, which will include checking up on how they’re being treated by the staff, coping with their challenges and potential jobs. They’ll study these groups of students for the next three years, and this will help the administrative staff see how to improve the process.

A future goal is to make FCA a footprint in St. Petersburg, and give it legs to grow from. In a recent meeting with the staff, they came up with ways to make that happen, and he sees a lot of potential in the program helping young people.

Lavender spent almost 40 years as a professional in non-profit organizations. After spending a decade as the CEO of a local Boys and Girls Club, he suffered a heart attack. He felt that God wanted him to re-evaluate things in his life, so he decided to retire.

Not one to grow old and sit in a rocking chair, Lavender was back helping people and non-profits as a consultant. He started helping with career academies and soon won a master plan national award for his works. It was shortly after that he got the call from the district asking him to help PTC.

“The first thing was to re-engage the community with the college,” he said. “It had been far too quiet, and not really opening its doors to allow community from all walks of life to use the building, so I helped get the community involved.”

The St. Petersburg campus of PTC is a 75,000 square foot building, and Lavender began hosting meetings there. This was a way to attract people who had never thought of the location and introduce them to the college.

People started utilizing the building for seminars and assemblies, and this also helped put the word out about the college. By opening their doors, people have discovered the many short-term career certifications that PTC has to offer for those who might not have the desire to attend a four-year university but still have a desire to improve their life.

Lavender plans to talk with many groups of young people, whether it takes place at a recreation center, music concert or in the neighborhood about the programs offered at PTC, especially FCA.

“When I wake up in the morning, it’s so that I can help others,” he said.

He also works under the direction of Boe Norwood, director of PTC St. Pete campus, in the development of robust community partnerships and community engagement, targeting recruitment plans to increase student enrollment.

Lavender moved from Chicago to St. Petersburg 16 years ago because he was in search of snow-free winters. He holds a bachelor of arts in education from the Ohio State University, and a master’s degree in nonprofit management.

If you’re ready to start a career or looking for a new one, please visit www.pcsb.org/myptc or call 727-893-2500. Financial aid is available.

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