In the week of February 14th, CRNYHS teachers and staff visited more than 30 participating CWSP companies as part of “Teacher to Work” week. Our faculty and staff had the opportunity to witness the work-study program in action in conversations with supervisors, colleagues, and students at their offices. Paul Winner, CRNYHS English teacher, reflected on his visit to see Senior Rebecca St. Jules at work:
“An overwhelming majority of our kids prove themselves to be every bit as calm, capable, and convincing as highly educated professionals. Now, why is this? As I watched Rebecca St. Jules work the front desk at her job at a leading insurance provider, I compared her to my own nieces and nephews, roughly the same age as our kids, and how differently they might behave in the same environment of quiet, sober responsibility. They wouldn't be nearly as mature as Rebecca.
Somehow, our kids have developed certain ineffable assets in sociability and high-relating that lets so many of them thrive beautifully among competitive adults. Rebecca, for instance, was given the task of being the face and voice of the company at the front desk. Rebecca was amiably realistic about the whole endeavor (she understood that it involved "a lot of sitting"), but learned from her supervisors that the company had to trust whoever held that job completely. The fact that she, along with three of our other students, was apparently capable enough to handle the job, proved a testament to how naturally graceful our kids can be, sometimes without even knowing it. She holds her own. It's something to behold.
In the end, what I think is most valuable for them is how much of an insight into corporate work our kids ultimately receive. It's often drudgery. It can be frustrating or repetitive. It demands you use your brain in wildly varying degrees -- and that's what I've seen kids like Rebecca realize, caught in the moment of performing their job. They've been given a kind of time-machine into their life after high school (or college), as well as the chance to seriously weigh options about who they want to become. Then, when they come back to my class and sit to absorb lessons in proper English, they understand where it should lead. Although I miss them when they're gone, I'm grateful for their one day out there in the city, soaking up all the lessons I can't teach on my own.”