Boys & Girls Village recently launched a vocational program with Applebee’s of Orange to help students from its Charles F. Hayden School gain real-world job experience. The Hayden School is a comprehensive educational and clinical day school for students in kindergarten through ninth grade, located at Boys and Girls Village’s Milford campus.
One morning per week, a group of three to six ninth grade students travel to Applebee’s and help workers prep the restaurant before it opens. This job-skills training helps students gain a sense of responsibility, accountability and confidence, with the ultimate goal of creating a smooth transition into future employment opportunities. The program concludes on July 23 and will continue next academic school year.
“Our program with Applebee’s is a valuable educational and socialization tool for our older students,” said Jon Oddo, Boys & Girls Village Vice President of Educational and Vocational Services. “Students have the opportunity to engage staff in discussions about job-related skills while also learning skills that can be applied to find a future job of their own.”
In addition to supervision by Hayden faculty, students are managed by an on-site Applebee’s manager who assigns tasks that a typical Applebee’s employees would perform.
“The Hayden School students work alongside my team and perform a variety of job readiness tasks,” said Applebee’s manager Todd Desfosses. “We have been very happy with their hard work and desire to learn and look forward to continuing our partnership with Boys & Girls Village next year.”
In order to become eligible to participate in the Applebee’s vocational program, students must first demonstrate that they are prepared by participating in “Coffee Break,” a weekly coffee shop at Boys & Girls Village managed by students at the Hayden School. Each week, a group of ninth graders set up Coffee Break and are responsible for the service, sales and clean-up of the shop, which is open to faculty and staff. The program is designed to help teach students about the various aspects of the food service industry, including food sanitation skills, social skills and customer interaction.
“Both programs have been successful in helping prepare students for the workforce,” said Oddo. “We hope the Applebee’s program will expand next year, as more students make the transition over from Coffee Break.”
Students also market Coffee Break by creating fliers to hang up around campus and by encouraging fellow students and staff to stop by. The money earned from sales and tips goes back into the shop or towards fun incentives like pizza parties for participating students.
Next academic year, Boys & Girls Village will also launch a culinary arts program, underwritten in part by the Werth Family Foundation, to help students gain even more experience and prepare for a career in the field.