Students Gain Work Experience

Students Gain Work Experience

Stop in the Life Skills Room at the Knapp School & Yeshiva between 8:30-10am, and treat yourself to a premium cappuccino or espresso, courtesy of our amazing high school students.  

Carrie Patterson, Work Development and Transition Specialist at Knapp School, oversees job programming and skill development among students. To begin training students in practical employment skills in an easy and useful way, Carrie created School Grounds, a makeshift coffee shop within the school where students serve as volunteer baristas.  

“It was a fantastic way to teach them soft skills that are really important for employment, like customer service and social skills,” said Carrie Patterson. “But I remember one student saying that they wanted to get a real job outside of school and suggested fast food to me.”  

In response, Carrie began reaching out to local fast-food restaurants and was delighted to find a partnership with Culver’s, which has never been a participant in a work program before.  

“Culver’s was perfect because they said it would be important to helping their current employees learn how to work with people from all backgrounds,” said Carrie.  

Kelvin Warner, a Knapp School job coach, takes two students to Culver’s five days a week. The students are excelling at their new responsibilities; Culver’s manager is even considering promoting one student to cashier and hiring her permanently.  

Other institutions from neighboring communities have turned into resources for students to hone their job skills. Students volunteer at the Chicago Chesed Fund, a Lincolnwood food pantry, where they learn logistics and organization by coordinating the food pantry stocks.  

“The Skokie Public Library has been awesome, one of our classrooms is going every Thursday to utilize STEM kits, 3-D printing, or record music and use their art rooms,” said Carrie. “One of our students even got hired there through JVS Career Services.” 

Through our family of services, Knapp School collaborates with JVS Career Services to help students build their resumes and enhance their job interview skills.  

“At Knapp School, we believe an area of focus, especially for our middle and high school students, is employment. We believe planning and early preparation for successful entry into the job market is crucial,” adds Carrie.