Camelot Education’s Chicago Camelot Academy Counseling Program: An Introduction to Real World Working Experiences
Students at Camelot Academy in Chicago now have an opportunity to enhance their workforce readiness by participating in a new comprehensive school counseling and mentoring program, thanks to a grant from Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
It’s called B.O.T.H. – Building Others to Hire – a mentoring program designed to increase soft skills in young black and Latino students. Soft skills are those personal attributes that enable people to interact harmoniously with each other.
School counselor Jenelle Hoyt said the mentoring project is very much needed by the students.
“Soft skills are often taken for granted in mainstream schools and in our broader society, particularly for young men from underserved communities,” she said. “This program helps our young men and women. Not only are they behind academically and may have behavioral challenges, but they lack the soft skills that make a big difference in a job interview. They need to know how to dress, how to present themselves during the interviewing process, and also possess customer service skills. These are attributes that can help them not only get a job but help them to hold onto that job.”
Camelot Academy’s B.O.T.H. program is aligned with the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) model. The ASCA Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs, outlines the components of a school counseling program that is integral to the school’s academic mission and is created to have a significant, positive impact on student achievement, attendance, and discipline.
“I was overjoyed when I learned we received the grant. School counseling is something that’s not only needed but something I feel called to do,” Hoyt said, who has been with Camelot for five years. “These students need someone who wants the best for them. When they come to see me, they often don’t know themselves what it is that they need. My students often have a diminished sense of self. They don’t see their own capabilities and don’t realize what they can accomplish in life. It’s our job to help them see that.”
The grant, which will support student success after graduation is for $2500. The program currently has room for five students and is considered a job. It will last for 16 weeks but is expected to continue next year with a new group of students.
According to Hoyt, the students participating in the B.O.T.H. program will undergo an application and hiring process like an actual job. They’ll have to apply, just as if they’re applying for a job in the outside world. They will have to submit a personal statement of their intentions and what they hope to accomplish. If hired, students will sign a contract and undergo a series of activities that will allow them to receive a weekly stipend if executed effectively.
Camelot Academy’s Executive Director Joseph Haley said students will learn how to dress professionally, complete a resume and job applications, interview, develop a strength-based mindset, budget their money, and create at least one entrepreneurship venture.
“We’ll start with the basics,” he said. “At the end of the program, each student will receive a stipend of $320.00. This is an important motivation because it is a positive way to show how work enables our kids to earn money.”
At Camelot Education, the path to learning starts with getting to know our students and their unique needs. Relationships are the bedrock of each Camelot school. Camelot Education’s positive normative school culture and climate differentiate it from other schools. Students are intentionally empowered so that they’re able to share leadership with teachers for the betterment of the collective school community. It’s about students taking responsibility for their behavior, leading by example, and enforcing pro-social norms.
Camelot Academy is a transitional school and part of CPS’s Alternative Safe Schools network, which serves students referred by CPS because of behavioral violations. At Camelot Safe Academy, students work on their social, emotional, academic, and behavioral challenges and then transition back to their home school with a stronger foundation from which to tackle challenges.
Hoyt said the B.O.T.H. program will complement other opportunities that Camelot Academy provides for students.
“We want them to see the different opportunities that are available to them,” she said. “We visit different colleges and universities. We expose our students to different careers through job shadowing, and we highlight a career of the week. Our entire purpose is to expose our students to careers and opportunities they might not have considered. That’s hugely important because most of them have no idea of what they’re capable of. They don’t see the power in themselves, but we do.”
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