At the January School Board meeting, Sandburg High School Special Education Teacher Beth Theisen shared highlights of how the Vocational Work Program across the district prepares students for life after high school.
Among the highlights, is the coffee house at Sandburg where students run the entire operation from brainstorming business models to marketing to conducting inventory and customer relations. The students have taken field trips to coffee shops to research the business environment. From that research, they have implemented an arts theme to the coffee house at Sandburg including featuring an artist each month and future plans to integrate musicians, poets and other student artists. Art Student of the month Massara Haseeb is featured at the coffee house throughout January and was at the Board meeting to be recognized.
Thiesen also shared how employment placement opportunities for students has expanded. She has, as Assistant Vice President Doug Nielsen of First American Bank, stated, done a great job preparing students for the interview process so they can "tell their story" and "deliver their message." Thiesen took the students on a field trip to the bank in downtown Chicago to introduce them to commuting on train and navigating the city. The students then interviewed with bank executives through a formal process. In a letter to Thiesen, the bank manager praised how prepared the students were for the experience.
Finally, Thiesen shared how she worked with the manager of the new Mariano's grocery store in Orland Park to conduct open interviews at school. The manager hired three students on the spot in the classroom to work at the newly opened store. Students Andres Souchet and Tony Vella were at the Board meeting to share how they are now working in various roles at the store including juicing oranges and carrots, stocking shelves and bagging groceries.