Career Coaching History

  • Dave ThillenHistory of the Career Coaching Program at GCCA: The history of the Career Coach Program begins with Dave Thillen, who moved to Greene County in 1998 after a 30-year career with IBM. He wanted to continue community involvement as he had done in his previous location so he signed up to help build houses for Greene County Habitat for Humanity (GCHFH). He soon recognized that there was a need to work with the children living in the Habitat houses. Using his in depth knowledge of technology, he began working on supplying a computer for every Habitat family. He began by soliciting used computers from his friends and neighbors and reconditioning them for these families with the intent of students in these homes using them to further their education. Soon thereafter it became obvious that even a more acute need was working with the high school students living in the homes to have a plan to graduate from Greene County High School (GCHS) and continue their education.

    Since Dave grew up in the inner-city of Chicago, he knows that the way out of poverty is education. It became his passion to customize the highly organized and structured planning process he learned at IBM in order to help students map out their futures, make wise class choices, graduate from high school, and then continue their education and career training. Whether their plan was to attend a 4-year university, a technical school, or join the military, Dave helped them all.  “The result over the past fifteen years of working with the GCHFH students using the Career Planning Process is 95% graduated high school and 84% went on to college, technical college or the military. Today, there are fifteen college graduates and sixteen in college from the GCHFH homes."

    The success of this program led James Peek, GCHS principal and John Ellenberg, CEO of the new Greene College and Career Academy to ask Dave if it would be possible to apply this planning process for all students in GCHS. After six months of development and training working with Greg Simmons, GCHS Graduation Coach, we now have a web-based system utilizing computers, mobile devices and cell phones that allows 80 volunteer Career Coaches to develop Career Plans and work with the 320 freshmen, sophomores and junior students. Beginning in August 2021, 30 more career coaches and several staff members will be added to the team moving the program to over 100 career coaches working with the entire high school of almost 500 students. From that point forward, all GCHS students will have a Career/Educational Plan but more importantly, they will have an opportunity to develop a nurturing relationship with someone who has known success and is willing to share their experiences with students.



    The Thillen Plan:

    The Thillen Plan - Career Coach - Career Plan - Student = Successful CareersThe Greene College & Career Academy (GCCA) has partnered with Dave Thillen to enhance the career education and planning we offer our students. At the heart of the GCCA Career Coaching Program, is The Thillen Plan, a comprehensive education and career plan that outlines a student’s journey from the first day of high school to the day they begin their career. However, a plan without follow through is just a piece of paper and it is simply not plausible for counselors to meet with every student sufficiently for any plan to be effective. What makes The Thillen Plan superior is that it incorporates members of the community and taps into their vast experience to “coach” students through the career planning process. The school WINS, the community WINS, and most importantly the student WINS with The Thillen Plan.


    Thillen Education Foundation

    Part of the career coaching program is the opportunity for every GCCA student to earn a scholarship while in high school. To learn about the foundation that funds the scholarships for every student who graduates from Greene County High School and continues their education or begins their career visit:


    Thillen foundation logo


Thillen Education Foundation News & Media