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Blogs / Professional Fellows Exchange Program / School That Works

School That Works

 

                             Taking picture with teh President of Christo Rey School Kansas City, Mrs. Kathleen M. Hanlon, PhD

Coming to City of Mission Hills Kansas with a low expectation ended up with the very great experiences. When the ICMA announced that  I will be working with the City Administration of Mission Hills a months ago, I read the city profile and had a little research of the programs in the city through internet, I'm a bit confused. Mission Hills is the 3rd wealthiest community in the US based on the Forbes Magazine survey, the city government also doesn't have the programs that related to my community challenges in Indonesia. My focus is on the youth employment, skill training, education to work, and mostly related to the poverty alleviation. Well I was thinking that even though I wont be able to see the best practices on my expertise, I  still tried to manage my expectation really well and kept optimistic that I can get new knowledges on how to create a policy at the very rich community and learning whe whole planning process in Mission Hills. It will be useful someday when my country is getting more developed and wealthier :) .Luckily, my host community has been working really hard on fulfilling my needs, the city manager, Courtney Christensen and her staffs were very helpful on arranging my itinerary. Before my departure for DC, we communicated very well and they asked me about what I want to do and what they can do to help me improving my technical capacity as aplanner, enhance my knowledge on the youth employment and workforce programs. Even though they don't have a program on youth employability , they reached out to their surrounding communities( even outside the Kansas State) in their network, set up several meeting with them and make sure that I'll be learning something from those communities. I really appreciate their great efforts. At this point, I can say that this YSEALI experiences is beyond my expectations.

One of the highlight of my second week was the Christo Rey School visit. Me, Bobby and Nicole ( an intern at the Mission Hills City Administration) went to the Christo Rey School on Thursday (10/17). Cristo Rey Kansas City provides an affordable, private college preparatory education to students with economic need. This is a very unique school because they not only teach basic subjects for the middle school students in general, but also give the opportunity to experience working in real life. We met the President of this Jesuis School, Mrs. Kathleen M. Hanlon, PhD who accommodated us a fruitful discussion about how this school works. She told us that most of the students come from the poor family and minority, such as African-american and Hispanic community. They didn’t pay the tuition fee, but they have to work once a week at the partner companies. The salary goes to school as a substitute for their tuition. The idea behind this special school come from the reality, most of the graduates didn’t know exactly how does it feel to be an employee, they didn’t have any experiences working at a company, as a result when they choose the major for college, most of them didn’t know whether the subjects they learn is really important when it comes to working environment. This school wants the students have a better understanding about the work life so that they can prepare what skilled that they need to improved. The school believes that education is the key factor to break the poverty cycle. Through good education, they will create a better future generation.

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                       the front office of Christo Rey School, Kansas City

After meeting with the President, we had a tour around the school facility with Mr. Ted Koppen. He is the Director for Corporate Work Study Program. He is the one who approach corporate to employ the students of Christo Rey School. Until now, there are more than 120 companies who has involved in this program. What an achievement! Mr. Koppen comprehensively explained about the program to us. He said that the Corporate Work Study Program is a defining characteristic that sets Cristo Rey apart from other college preparation high school. Through the work study, students fund half of the cost of their education, gain job experiences and realize the relevance of their learning while providing real value to local businesses. This work experiences provided by Corporate Work Study partners complement a student’s academic success and transform ideas about college and career.

While explaining about the partnership with the companies, I was asking about what benefit for the company to employ these students, because in my country employer just let the high school students an internship without giving a salary. Ted said that they offer some benefits so that the companies interested to hire their students, such as:

(1)    Reliable and Productive Workers

Corporate Work Study Program is essentially a professional employment agency that screens, trains, supports and transports student workers. Based on the data, their attendance rate is 98% and routinely “meet or exceed the expectation” on performance evaluation.

(2)    Competitive Labor Cost

The cost for engaging the Corporate Work Study student workers is competitive with hiring an entry level, full time employee. There is no extra cost to business for benefit, vacation or sick days

(3)    No Administrative Expenses

All payroll, legal and on-board paperwork is all handled by the Corporate Work Study Program

(4)    Corporate Citizenship

Partnership with the school is a meaningful way to give back to the community while mentoring and cultivating tomorrow’s workforce.

Took a picture with Mr. Ted Koppen, Director for Corporate Work School Program and Ebony Abighail, one of the working students of Christo Rey School at her office.

We also had the opportunity to talk with one of the students at her workplaces. This bright student named Ebony Abighail told us that her job descriptions are filing, observing and making report on the competitor’s website. She said that having some working experiences made her realize that there are soft skills that she needs to improve like how to manage the time, communicate effectively, analytical thinking and how to be adoptable as well. She said that she wanted to make her mom proud by earn some degrees and has higher completed education than the rest of the family. She was really enjoying the last three months work for the private company. She knew what she wants to be and what kind of job that she enjoys the most.

One of the employers felt that this program has also helped them to find the qualified young workers to do the entry level kind of jobs. The school provided the training before the students get into the work places, so the company doesn’t need to create another training program for them, they just try to mentor them to have a better quality of work. Not all the companies partnered with the school give the salary for the students. It is not the main objectives for running this program, the most important thing is to give the students a new perspective about the how do they work in a real world, more than just sitting at the class.

For me, this school is one of the best practices that I can bring to Indonesia and share with the relevant institution, especially the Ministry for Manpower and Education. We found some classic problems on how the young people at new entry level created a high turnover rate. The youth tend to be easy to leave their first job when they think the job is not right for them or they got some criticism from their supervisor. They couldn’t handle the problems really well and being so childish when they feel the boss or the people at work do not treated them right. One of the factors is culture shocks; young people should know how the real working situation is, so the introduction of the work-life to the youth is needed to make them get use to it when they enter the workforce. I hope that Indonesia will have this type of schools in the future to overcome the youth employment problems.

Thank you Christo Rey School Kansas City for inspiring me and giving a lot of insights and new perspectives from your program!

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