In its first year of operation, the Work Based Learning program at Washington High School is off to a good start, Larry Hunecke, high school principal, informed the school board on Monday.
The instructors of the class for seniors are Tim Stoneking and Matt Malausky, who also teach other business classes.
Only nine students participated this year but that will increase in the future. Three of the students who participated in the program were present at the school board to describe their experiences with the program.
"You learn things you wouldn't learn in class," Ashley Daum said. She worked in the central office during the first semester and at Burkhardt and Dawson, an accounting firm, during the second semester.
Jake Van Voorst worked with the auto mechanics at Holzhauer Motors. "This is a great opportunity for students. This is what I plan on doing later in life," he said.
Kyle Sump worked at Holton Signs. "This provided lots of hands on experience and to top it off, I got paid for it."
Hunecke explained that not all students get paid for their Work Based Learning jobs. It is up to the employer. The student is matched with an employer who provides work similar to that contained in the student's career plan.
Stoneking explained in a subsequent interview that a previous School to Work program at Washington High School allowed school credit for whatever job they could find.
Work Based Learning requires an in depth interview process to find a match between employment and career goals. The class can be taken for one or two credits. Stoneking noted that it is usually taken for two credits, either the first two periods of the day or the last two.
Instructors periodically make work site visits.
"This has worked wonderfully. Students have gotten experiences in careers they are interested in pursuing," Stoneking said.
Even when the student finds that career plans are a mistake, that can be a valuable lesson too, as in the case of a student who decided she didn't want to pursue a career in what she did the first semester and found a more suitable job the second semester.