When Elle came to Knapp School & Yeshiva, her teachers described her as shy and withdrawn. She would often arrive late to school and would sleep in class. As a team, the Knapp staff came up with a plan to support Elle to be successful and reach her goals.
One of those goals was for her to earn a job. “The best part of my work is watching a student transform after earning a school job,” Carrie Patterson, the work development and employment specialist at Knapp School said. “It gives them a purpose, promotes growth, social skills and affords the chance to make friendships. No matter how big or small, it has always changed their life.”
Elle started out by volunteering, playing the ukulele and singing in the lobby for the customers of School Grounds, a coffee that provides jobs to students and coffee to staff and visitors. Through hard work and staff support, Elle earned a permanent job at the coffee cart, then a second job working with the JCFS Chicago IT team restoring laptops. Being part of the school job program required good attendance, behavior and grades. Elle became a very social member of the coffee cart team and enjoyed getting to know staff and students.
The many months of remote learning could have sent Elle back into school avoidance. Instead, the opposite happened—she flourished. She has kept her job at the virtual coffee cart, never missing a day, and has perfect school attendance. Elle is currently looking to participate in dual enrollment, where she would take part-time classes at a city college while attending high school. She is currently researching colleges to attend after graduation, taking virtual tours and working with JVS Career & Employment and school staff to find community-based employment.
Last month, Elle was able to secure a paid internship with Midlane Esports, with the help of the JVS youth work program. Working alongside the owner, Elle handles tasks such as, redesigning menus, creating business cards, collaborating with outside organizations to host events, as well as basic house keeping duties around the venue.
“While listening to Elle perform virtually at the coffee cart, we got to talking about how much we would all miss the annual Knapp School talent show this year. It’s the staff and students’ favorite day of the school year,” Carrie said. Then Elle had the amazing idea for a virtual talent show! She was not only the originator and a participant but took charge of editing each student’s video clips and created flyers. It was a wonderful collaboration, and Elle was an integral part of the team. “We are all beyond proud of her and what she has accomplished and very grateful she has had the support of the entire agency to help her reach her dreams,” Carrie said.