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Co-op program is hands-on learning

Redeemer students stand out as positive examples of how to live, work and serve others in the workplace

Redeemer’s co-operative education program offers students in Grades 11 and 12 an opportunity learn through doing at a work placement that matches their interests. Mr. Jaspers-Fayer, Redeemer’s co-op program coordinator, interviews each student to see what their interests are and to see what type of workplace would best suit their needs. Then he says, “we seek a placement that will stretch the student in their desired area and that corresponds to a course they have taken in high school.” A Personal Placement Learning Plan outlines specifics of what the student will learn and the evaluation tools used to measure progress.

Currently, we have nine students in the co-op program. Cilicia works at Carling Dental. She observes and shadows the staff and helps clean to set up for appointments. Cilicia wants to go to Algonquin College to train to become a dental assistant. “This co-op placement is getting me ready for my future,” she says. “It gives me an opportunity to understand more about dentistry and how it is done. It also allows me to learn basic things and the names of some equipment.” This experience gives Cilicia a head start on her post-secondary education and allows her to gain practical “real world” experience and develop key employable skills. Jasper-Fayer adds, “students get to try out a career option prior to spending several years in college or university only to find out they do not like it.”

Working in a chemistry lab at the University of Ottawa is a dream job for Jonathan. “I have the unique opportunity to discover if lab work is something I enjoy before committing to pursuing a career in Chemistry,” he says. The project he’s working on most is to classify an organic polymer. “I have been testing for its solubility, heat capacity, molecular make-up, and other properties using scientific processes and equipment,” explains Jonathan. “I enjoy the experience. It is a hands-on learning opportunity that gives me a sense of what it would be like to work in this area.”

Naomi does office administration and assists the activities director at Alavida Lifestyles, a seniors’ suites and retirement residence. She’s thrilled that her co-op opportunity “gives real career experience without spending $10,000 at college.” Naomi can use her gifts to serve others while opening doors to permanent job opportunities through direct contacts and by strengthening her resumé.

Kyle and Reuben work for Dow Honda down the road from Redeemer. When asked what they do, they say, “it’s different every day.” They help the mechanics, assist with brake and strut jobs, and will soon be changing tires as the season changes. Both students appreciate “the hands-on learning.” Kyle, who’s in his second co-op placement at the car dealership, also likes that he can get parts for his car with an “employee” discount. Jasper-Fayer notes that if Kyle wants to go into an apprenticeship program, the time he’s put into his high school co-op placement, approximately 480 hours, will count retroactively. Even if the boys chose a different career path says Jasper-Fayer, “they have learned practical life skills that might otherwise have been missed.” In Reuben’s case, there are many ways he can apply the skills he is learning in an automotive shop to his families’ dairy farm.

Jaspers-Fayer has overseen Redeemer’s co-op program since 2000. “It’s a constant joy to see the variety of talents and skills our students bring to workplaces in Ottawa,” he says. Redeemer co-op students have had placements at Parliament Hill, local elementary schools, radio stations, automotive and retail shops and even at the Fairmont Château Laurier as a pastry chef. Jasper-Fayer notes that “in co-op, we see the rewards of years of hard work and teaching that parents, churches and the school have invested into these students. These young adults go out as ambassadors not only for themselves, but they go out bearing the name of Christ. I see time and again how the light of Christ is spread by their attitudes, actions, and approach to the work they do.”

Other co-op placements this year include work in an advertising firm, building maintenance, assisting a chef at an oriental restaurant, and helping in a small engine repair shop. “The co-op program allows Redeemer to offer a wide variety of experiences to our students that would otherwise be impossible to offer,” remarks Jaspers-Fayer. “We get to see our students shine in ways that are difficult to replicate in the classroom.”

Employers benefit from the co-op program because they have an extra set of hands to work at the company that they do not have to pay any compensation for and they are training a potential employee. “Employers also feel good about helping a young person find their way and develop their skills,” states Jaspers-Fayer. “It’s a win for all parties involved—student, employer and school.”

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