Dear St. Francis de Sales Community,
As spring is upon us, I thought it would be a good time to provide you with an update on our progress toward implementing a Work Study program at St. Francis de Sales High School in the fall of 2020.
As you may recall, we formed an exploratory committee over a year ago with representatives from Big Shoulders Fund, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and St. Francis de Sales High School to discuss the potential for the school to initiate a Work Study program, in which student education would be supplemented by real-world experience in local businesses.
The committee spent the better part of the last year talking to community members, businesses, families, area elementary schools, and alumni to understand their interest in and the potential for a Work Study program. The response and enthusiasm for the program have been overwhelmingly positive.
In Work Study, students obtain a quality, college prep education while developing real world job skills by working one day per week. A Work Study program will provide our students with a tremendous opportunity to gain valuable college and career skills and life experiences.
As we proceed to implement Work Study for the 2020-21 school year, we want to keep you up to date on how our work is proceeding:
In the last few months, more jobs have been secured and we currently have over ten job partners committed to supporting the Work Study Program. The work to secure the jobs necessary to support Work Study is being lead by a committee of community leaders including two SFDS alumni John Czulno and Mike Zunica, former Alderman Ed Vrdolyak, and others. Director of Business Development, Mike Dooley is actively working with our jobs committee on expanding these partnerships. Please contact Mike at 773-401-9810 for more information.
We have also established an Academic Committee that is working to structure school programming to ensure that the curricular content and instructional time best serve students’ academic needs. Serving on this committee are numerous academic leaders from both the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Big Shoulders Fund.
In preparation for the Work Study program, we are adjusting schedules sligthly for the 2019-20 school year to offer entry college-level courses in concert with St. Xavier University to our Junior and Senior students.
We continue to meet bi-weekly with Big Shoulders and the Archdiocese to structure the Work Study program so that it ensures success for our students in the workplace, at school and in life.
We will be spending the next few months continuing to build our job partners and working to meet our goal to begin the Work Study Program in the fall of 2020. We will keep you updated throughout the spring and summer.
If you want to discuss or need more information please reach out to me. We truly believe the Work Study Program will transform the lives of our students, preparing them for success in college and in life.
WORK STUDY December 2018 Update: St. Francis de Sales continues to move forward on the Work Study Initiative. Below is a summary of our work to date. If you have an questions, please reach out to Principal John Kimec at 773-731-7272.
A committee including representatives from St. Francis de Sales High School, Big Shoulders Fund and the Archdiocese of Chicago have diligently worked over the last year to evaluate the potential for a Work Study program at St. Francis de Sales High School.
The committee put together a feasibility study summarizing the year of work and the findings. Feedback has been very positive from current students and families, prospects and the community and there has been strong interest and commitments from potential employers to support a Work Study program at St. Francis de Sales High School. The findings from the feasibility study were shared with decision makers at the Office of Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago and with Big Shoulders Fund.
Based on the study, including the support of employers and the community, the Office of Catholic Schools and Big Shoulders Fund are supportive of moving forward in the Work Study planning process to establish a relationship with an independent entity that will operate and manage the Work Study program at St. Francis de Sales. Once this happens, the Archdiocese and Big Shoulders expect to begin steps toward full implementation. The school plans to announce next steps this spring and to commence a Work Study program at St. Francis de Sales in the fall of 2020.
People often ask us: What is Work Study? In a few brief paragraphs, here is the answer:
In a Work Study Program, a group of high school students is put into a job-sharing team where they work once every four days at a local business from 8:30am-4:30pm. The students’ academic schedules are modified so that four students share one full-time entry-level job without missing academic class time – the students attend the same number of instructional hours as in a traditional school setting.
A Work Study Program provides students a tremendous access to opportunity – not only the opportunity to afford a private/Catholic high school that prepares them to attend and succeed at great universities, but also the opportunity to gain valuable life and work experiences in a professional setting. Students take ownership of a quality, college prep education while developing real world job skills. These experiences have been shown to help student achievement, and colleges have shown great interest in this experience as a differentiator in admissions decisions.
Payment from employers for the effort of the job sharing team offsets a portion of the cost to educate the students. There are hundreds of work-study students working in and around Chicago each weekday.