Colville Valley Junior Academy Work Study Program
In the summer of 1993, I felt a need to begin a work study program at our local 10-grade church school. I approached the owner of a family-owed grocery store in our small town and discussed the possibility of his store employing our students for 2-3 hours a day as part of a work-study program. His support was the beginning of the work study program, which continues in some form to this day.
Reflections: What philosophical and Biblical foundations form the basis of the need for work study program in an Adventist school? Is there any precedent in the literature that suggests students gain anything other than monetary advantage by working during their high school years? What leadership qualities were utilized when forming and implementing this program?
When I was at Union College in 1979 as an educational student, I took at class from Dr. Kennedy called "Philosophy of Education." Our sole textbook was Ellen White's book, Education. While I enjoyed reading the book, I appreciated much more the way in which Dr. Kennedy would test us over the information we had read. Rather than require reiteration of endless lists, or even give multiple choice questions, Dr. Kennedy gave us an opportunity to apply the knowledge we had gleaned from the pages of our reading assignments. One particular question from the chapter called "Manual Training" stood out in my mind. It went something like this: You are the board chairperson in your local Adventist school. You feel that you should implement a work-study program to benefit the students. Please outline the presentation you will make to your school board to enlist their support of this program. Many years and several moves later, I remembered this question, and the philosophies I included in my answer, as I was working with our local Adventist school. First, I went to a local businessman who owned and operated a grocery store with my idea. He agreed to hire some of our students on a part time basis to support this concept. I then approached the school board (not as board chairperson at the time, but as a board member) with this proposal. This was the beginning of a work study program at Colville Valley Junior Academy that continues to this day.
In addition to the sound counsel of Ellen White, we have ample evidence from scripture that work is an honorable and valuable thing. "All hard work brings a profit" (Proverbs 14:23), "He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty" (Proverbs 28:19), "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks" (Proverbs 31:17), "Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate" (Proverbs 31:31) are just a few texts that tell us of the importance and value of work. George Knight's comments in Myths in Adventism (one of my favorite books) further sealed my belief in the importance of implementing a work-study program. Chapter 19, "Manual Labor Myths and Concept of Balance" is filled with incredible statements that inspired me to create this program, particularly pages 243-250.
As I have read literature about leaders and change, I have realized that I could have been a more effective change agent by knowing more about leadership at the time this program was initiated. For instance, I could have utilized stories effectively (On With the Story); I could have found an analogy to represent the need for change (Leading Change, chapter 6). I could have better understood the questions I should have posed to myself, suggested by Wren (Leader's Companion, 251) before presenting this idea to the board. For instance, one member of the board continued to be a source of frustration to the financing of the work study program, and a better understanding of her interests and aspirations would have given me and the program a better footing when dealing with her.
I also have realized that I implemented many of the ideas contained in the literature. I established a sense of urgency (Kotter, chapter 3) by tying the work study program to the need for more funds, demonstrating that many of the students whose accounts were in arrears were old enough to work, and the work study program would provide them with additional funds which would go toward their tuition, thereby benefiting the budget of the school. The "status quo" with our accounts receivable was deemed unacceptable by all; however, no one had heretofore discussed this option as one way of changing that status. Because I had already approached a local businessman and secured his cooperation with this program, I was able to demonstrate that this change was feasible (Yukl, 274). I encouraged and enlisted the help of others who believed in the value of work by forming a work study committee (Wallace and Graves, chapter 5; Posner, 123-4; Wren 151).
The work study program (which during the time I was in charge of it included finding employers, coordinating a work schedule, finding and coordinating drivers and schedules, organizing and presenting workshops, collecting evaluations from employers, etc.) was created because I believed in the philosophy of work. It continues today (with a great deal of modification) with that same philosophy at its base. My leadership skills created the program, and other people's leadership continues it today.
Below are forms, judicial permission for minors under the age of 14, evaluations, and other documents I created as the originator and manager of this program from 1993 - 2000.
|May 4, 2004
To Whom it May Concern
I benefited greatly as a student from the work study program put on at Colville Valley Adventist School by Shelley Bacon. The skills I learned from my part time job as well as the periodic seminars have been advantageous to this day as I have successfully moved on to other jobs, chosen a career, and interviewed for professional schools.
As a twelve-year-old eighth grader I received my first real job working three to five hours a week at a local dental laboratory as their janitor. Along with job-specific training that I received from my employer I also learned the importance of punctuality, efficiency, and workplace integrity from individual and group job coaching from Mrs. Bacon. Later on, as a tenth-grader, I was able to interview for and receive a high school internship at the Colville Medical Clinic, due in large part to the superior job finding skills of Mrs. Bacon.
Periodically throughout our school year work study seminars were held. Some of the more memorable ones include: a career comparison workshop, guest lecturers from various career fields, training on resume construction, and advice from a university career counselor. The interest level for these school-wide seminars was very high, and I believe they made a definite impact on the lives of the students who attended. I know I still use many of the skills I learned in those workshops, and especially value the head start on work experience I gained as a result of the work study program.