Work Study provides great experiences (and a Pepsi)

Lauren Adamski

Soph. Joshua Martinez said, “All right guys, time for Work Study,” and with that declaration, they were off to the Boys and Girls Club. 

   Every Monday and Wednesday, Instructor Jenna Plewes’ Work Study class goes to the Boys and Girls Club on the north side of Holland. They gain work experience and life skills. Instructor Beth Spreitzer said, “When we get to the Boys and Girls Club, they get out of the van and they get to work; they are self-directed.” The students jump out to the van and sprint to the front door, eager to get started on their tasks. 

Lauren Adamski

   Martinez is responsible for cleaning all of the tables in various rooms. A task that would be boring and small to others brings a smile to Martinez’s face. He enjoys every moment of his time at the Boys and Girls Club as this place is very important to him. He attends the Boys and Girls Club frequently after school. Participating in Work Study at the Boys and Girls Club gives him an opportunity to help out an organization that benefits him and one that he plans to continue helping at in the future. 

   The students give back to the community by providing a clean place for kids to hang out after school while also investing in themselves by practicing skills they can use in the workforce after high school. Sr. Sam Walcott is typically in charge of collecting the garbage at the Boys and Girls Club. He enjoys helping out at the Boys and Girls Club because he knows that his efforts benefit the community. Plewes pointed out that Walcott is an extremely hard worker and she would love for him to come back to the high school and work as a custodian after graduating. 

   Walcott’s talents would not have been discovered without Work Study. It was at the Boys and Girls Club that Walcott’s dedication to cleaning was observed by Plewes and Spreitzer. Since their observation, Plewes and Spreitzer have worked together to organize an interview and application process for Walcott at the high school to become part of the custodial staff. 

   The students really enjoy the different pace that Work Study provides them. Soph. James Polk said, “It’s nice to get out of school; it is more quiet at the Boys and Girls Club. It’s not loud like the hallways at school.” Offering diverse opportunities like these through school help to accommodate everyone’s learning needs. The quiet environment that the Boys and Girls Club provides aids Polk in his learning as there are fewer distractions around. There is a distinct difference in Polk’s attentiveness when he’s at Work Study. At Work Study, he becomes more productive and efficient. Work Study offers him a place to gain essential skills that will enhance his future.  

Lauren Adamski

   Outside of their daily cleaning tasks, the group has also helped organize spaces throughout the club that need straightening. Sr. Abran Vergara said, “Work Study keeps us busy… we have fixed the storage room, vacuumed rooms, and a lot more. Through this, I have learned good work skills.” 

   Plewes presented the storage closet in the gym that they had recently organized. She explained that before the closet was so cluttered and messy that one could barely step foot in the room as the equipment was not put back in the proper place. However, through their efforts one can now easily access the room and find the equipment they want to use.

   Plewes explained that every Wednesday they make a trip to the Dollar General after Work Study. Each student gets to pick out a $1 item which serves as their wage and gives them a real-world job experience as they only go to the store if the job is well done. Their wage applies to all of their classes and encourages them to always be on task and working hard. 

   Going to the dollar store is Soph. Isaac Wright’s favorite part of Work Study. He typically gets a Pepsi as his wage. It is the perfect item to motivate him to keep working hard and he loves its carbonated flavor. Plewes uses their time at the dollar store as another learning experience for her students. At the dollar store, Plewes taught Martinez how to use a credit card and the self-checkout at the store. His smile was so large when he remembered the correct sequence of buttons he needed to press to complete the transaction successfully. This provides them an introduction to what a job in the cashier field might look like as they have to scan their item, put it in a bag, and navigate how to pay by using the touch screen. Work Study truly gives these students experiences that they cannot simulate inside the classroom.           

   Plewes said, “We try to mix up the job sites we go to because it’s very important for our students to gain job skills through hands-on experiences. We choose sites that allow them to work on different tasks such as cleaning and setting up for events. We try to do as much as we can to tie our job sites to their post-secondary interests”

   Work Study is a great opportunity for these students to venture out into the community and learn skills that they are unable to simulate in the classroom. Plus, on payday they get a Pepsi.