A head start at working for a living - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

A head start at working for a living

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Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2005 11:11 am | Updated: 9:52 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Queen Creek High School has added a program aimed at helping seniors move into the real world. It also ends up helping local businesses.

The program, Distributive Cooperative Education, commonly known as the Co-op, teaches students the art of getting a job — and the reality of keeping it. One part classroom and two parts work, the Co-op is a full-year commitment to eligible seniors who want to receive school credits while working.

"The whole idea here is career preparation. This class gets them

ready for either an entry level position in the career of their choice or college,’’ said Laura Metcalfe, career and technical education director.

Co-op teacher Mauricio Ramirez has been knocking on doors since July, notifying local businesses about the program — and they’ve been listening. All 12 students enrolled are now working.

"The word is out,’’ Ramirez said. "Right now we have more jobs than we have kids.’’

Ramirez, who also teaches computer animation and commercial art, uses classroom time teaching students basic life skills. It’s not just about résumé writing and technical workshops. He shows them how to present themselves on an interview and what to wear, and offers tips on grooming.

"I want to get them prepared for the real world,’’ he said. "They need to know it matters if they comb their hair.’’

Once a student lands a job, Ramirez uses techniques like role playing to help overcome obstacles such as shyness. He also follows up with employers.

Colleen Powers, 17, didn’t know she’d love working around the arts until she was given an opportunity through the Co-op. She now works as a paid intern at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center and plans to pursue a degree in visual arts.

"She’s so skilled and current on the computer with things like Photoshop and Excel that she’s actually teaching us,’’ said Molly Jacobs, director the performing arts center.

Ramirez said he has about 20 requests that he can’t fill from local businesses asking for student workers. "It’s just a win-win situation,’’ he said.

Next year, Metcalfe anticipates several juniors will be eligible for Co-op, and based on its success so far this year, it should be easy to fill the 27 available spots.

In order to be eligible for Co-op next year, juniors must take one of the career and technical education classes offered this year and pass with a "C’’ or better.

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