Podcast: Why High School Students Belong in a Life Plan Community

Workforce | December 12, 2017

Everyone benefits when work study students from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School come to work each day at Lenbrook, a life plan community in Atlanta. The innovative program is featured in a new Workforce Innovators Podcast from LeadingAge.

Walk into Lenbrook on any weekday during the school year and you’re likely to find a local high school student working behind the concierge desk or carrying out a special project for one of life plan community’s departments.

The students, from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Atlanta, are earning money that goes toward their high school tuition. But that’s only a very small part of the story behind a unique partnership that has brought 12 Cristo Rey students to Lenbrook over the past 3 years.

The partnership’s full story is featured in a new episode of the LeadingAge Workforce Innovators Podcast. The podcast is produced by the LeadingAge Center for Workforce Solutions

Work Study: The Secret Sauce

Cristo Rey provides a college preparatory education to under-resourced high school students, all of whom participate in the school’s corporate work study program each year. The work study program is supported by 140 corporate partners, including Lenbrook.

“We all know that education is the way to break the cycle of poverty and Cristo Rey is a school to do that,” says Cynthia Wassenar, the school’s director of business development. “I look at the corporate work study program … as the secret sauce in this school. These students are surrounded by mentors and exposed to job opportunities that open up their lives so they can succeed.”

Everyone Benefits

The Lenbrook-Cristo Rey partnership is mutually beneficial.

Lenbrook and its residents get to experience students’ “fresh energy, their excitement, their innovation,” says Rochelle Valsaint, manager of brand and communications for the Lenbrook Square Foundation. The students, who arrive at Lenbrook each year with business skills that they can apply to real projects, also offer meaningful assistance to Lenbrook team members and residents.

In addition to earning two-thirds of their high school tuition, Cristo Rey students gain role models and mentors in the business world, and learn “life lessons you can’t learn in a classroom,” says Wassenar. Most important, they are exposed to different career paths within the senior living field, she says.

Learn More about Lenbrook and Cristo Rey

Listen to the Episode 3 of the LeadingAge Workforce Innovators Podcast to learn more about Cristo Rey’s work study program, how it works, why Lenbrook participates, and how you might replicate the program in your community.

You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Play Podcasts.