The Rapidian

Learning vocational skills through on-the-job training

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KVO & CBOT students learn job skills in cooperation with GRPS Nutrition Services
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Picture L to R Renee and Jay Willie

Picture L to R Renee and Jay Willie /Photo taken by classroom instructional team

Belkyn is shown doing dishes at her Westwood Middle School job

Belkyn is shown doing dishes at her Westwood Middle School job /Photo taken by classroom instructional team

Renee and Jay Willie fill out their time sheets in preperation for the shift

Renee and Jay Willie fill out their time sheets in preperation for the shift /Photo taken by classroom instructional team

Kent Vocational Options and Community Based Occupational Training (KVO & CBOT), in cooperation with Grand Rapids Public Schools Nutrition Services, is teaching students who qualify for special education services skills necessary to obtain and maintain competitive employment. Every day, different teams from KVO & CBOT classrooms change into their uniforms and go to Alger, Ford, Westwood and Riverside Middle Schools as well as Palmer, East Leonard, North Park and Aberdeen schools to work in the cafeterias alongside other Grand Rapids employees.

Students are issued a navy blue shirt with a KVO & CBOT school logo and either a navy blue ball cap or hair net and report to work on their assigned day between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. They work until between 12:45 and 1:15 p.m. Each school building has two or three KVO & CBOT teams that share the weekly responsibility by alternating their work days. These teams, supervised by their classroom instructional staff, are responsible for a variety of jobs including cardboard box breakdown and recycling, dish washing, serving, trash disposal and table and floor cleanup.

Not only is this a hands-on method of learning what it takes to successfully hold a job, if students exhibit sufficient proficiency they are able to fill out a Grand Rapids Public School’s Hiring Packet for Student Workers and get paid for their effort.  There have been some students who have been hired directly into Nutrition Services for continued employment through GRPS Nutrition Services upon completion of their years in public education.

Joe, one of the students from the KVO & CBOT Eberhard Classroom, says, “I like to work there and I spend my money on movies at Meijer. I like doing the trash because I enjoy taking the trash out. I do that at home too. It’s hard sometimes to prop the door when I take out trash. If I don’t prop it open I get locked out and have to call my teacher to let me back in.”

Ted, another student from the Eberhard classroom, says, “Westwood is really a good experience for anyone that wants to get a starter job and [understand] what it feels like to work in the work world. When I graduate, I would like to get a job doing anything that has to do with janitorial work and kitchen duty because I like to do dishwashing.” 

"We are grateful for the opportunity to work in collaboration with the Westwood staff and their food service team. My students enjoy the opportunity to make a paycheck and it is a wonderful environment to teach not only job skills but also social skills and functional academics that make up such a large part of our transition level curriculum," says Mrs. Ann Paauwe, Eberhard classroom teacher.

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