Apprentice Learning has been around long enough that we have a few legacies. Like the Delgado family. Miguel did an apprenticeship in 2016 at MicroSoft and now has found solid footing as a designer with Artists for Humanity, blending his love of computers with his love of art. His younger brother, Adrian, is currently apprenticing at Ferris Wheels Bike Shop. He likes it so much and feels so much a part of the crew, tat he has asked if he can show up on Saturdays, too.
The secret sauce? Family engagement. Mary Delgado credits Apprentice Learning with creating new opportunities and vistas for her boys. But she has been an equal partner. During the matching process, we discussed ideas Adrian's placement and together, determined that the bike shop was a great fit. Mary even dropped by the bike shop at the end of Adrian's shift to see him at work. Mary and her boys attended our recent Skyline event and spoke about her experience with our program.
Family voices matter. We know our students will go further with all of us lending a hand.
When we opened our first bank account to launch Apprentice Learning, Eastern Bank in Ashmont was our choice for a community bank. We were warmly welcomed by Roxann Cooke, who is now Senior Vice President and Regional Manager.
Eastern Bank has supported Apprentice Learning’s growth as a banking partner and as a funder. We are thrilled to announce this $10,000 award in support women and girls, for our City Summer Internship program for rising ninth grade girls.
Each week, City Summer Interns visit as least one business to step into the shoes of a career professional. Interns write a letter with their reflections. Dyimond, a 2018 intern, wrote the following letter to NorthStar Asset Management:
Dyimond (foreground) works with her team to brainstorm.Dear NorthStar Asset Management,
Thank you for teaching me the ways of a financial advisor and what your jobs consist of. What I enjoyed the most was learning about income and budgeting. I enjoyed this the most because I know I have been taught an important life lesson that is never supposed to be forgotten. I say this a lot; that there are some life lessons that shouldn’t be forgotten but this is one of the gems of life that should stay with you for your entire life.
Whenever I felt that I'd learned something new I would write it down on the sticky notes you gave us. For example, income and expenses, understanding the difference between wants vs. needs, fixed vs. variable expenses, and last but not least, S.M.A.R.T goals and what the purpose of those are. I just kept thinking about my future and what lies ahead. These newly learned concepts give me a sense reassurance. The reason it gives me a sense of reassurance is that I know in the future I will be prepared for any challenge that comes my way.
My experience at your workplace will help me in the future because I learned what the real world is like and why being very proactive when it comes to taking care of your money is an important aspect of life. I had learned that S.M.A.R.T goals mean how to be prepared and ready for the things that come along with becoming an adult. I just kept thinking be calm and prepare, you will be okay. Now I finally know I will be fine when the future comes.
Thank you once again for the amazing opportunity to come and listen to your life stories also learn from you. Learning about what your jobs as financial advisors consists of at NorthStar is great. This site is an outstanding place for students to visit especially for students who have a plan for the future due to the fact that every plan involves time, planning, and money. That is where you as financial advisors come in. Thank you for existing.
Dyimond lives in Roxbury and attended, the Jackson/Mann School,an Apprentice Learning’s partner school. She will be a ninth graders this fall at City on a Hill. NorthStar Asset Management is located in Jamaica Plain and has been a worksite partner since 2015.
Taylor Norman, Apprentice Learning Program Coordinator at the Boston Teachers Union School was invited to give a parting speech to the eighth grade class. We were inspired and wanted to share her words.
As you launch into high school, you will have a chance to choose your friends, choose your interests, and choose what path you will take. Although these choices aren’t permanent, make sure you’re building a firm and steady foundation. You have the option to start over and be who you want to be, without questions, or maybes. So use that opportunity and take action. Don’t wait for the approval of your peers, because they’re figuring it out, just as you are. Make your plan and ask for help. Tell them about your plan of action, and that you can’t do it alone.
I’ve helped many of you explore your career interests and earn an apprenticeships and summer jobs through Apprentice Learning. As that process unfolded, I got to learn more about each of you, and what makes you so unique. Like the fact that the majority of you like white bread because wheat bread is too crumbly. Some students like to blurt out their answers, while others refused to answer when called upon. How many of you like to help adults but don’t like being told what to do by adults. About ½ of you like an even layer of Mayonnaise on both slices of the bread while others like a big glob of Mayo on ONE side…
But what made you even more similar, was the fact that each of you had goals and dreams to be someone different, and to be a better version of your 6th grade self, or your 7th grade self. And even for the few students that I’ve met for the first time this year, better versions of your 8th grade selves.
Each year you made improvements, through action. And I’ve watched. We’ve watched.
I remember many of you saying, “Ms. T, I’m going to be in your class next year because I want a summer job. Just wait!” So I waited. We’ve waited. Not for the opportunity to get you employed for the summer, but for the lifetime of opportunities that await you…when you realize that you don’t need us as much as you did before.
Getting up for school every day, completing those assignments, making a pact to stay after school with your friends so you can all receive tutoring, supporting the one person in your crew who may have needed to attend. That demonstrates empathy, teamwork, proper planning, care, and commitment. You’ve stuck together, refusing to leave your classmates or friends behind. But keep in mind, it’s all about action.
“The Cummings Foundation grant is the largest competitive grant Apprentice Learning has received. Not only will funding help us to serve more students this year and next, this gift propels our organization into Boston’s nonprofit ecosystem in significantly new ways. We are so very grateful to Bill and Joyce Cummings for their deep generosity and radical philanthropy.”
—Helen Russell, Executive Director
Thanks, Aaron Horne, Sienna DeSantis and Tim Smith,
Fabio, Styvenson, Armani and Solomon navigated their way through the Batterymarch District, visited the Greenway, saw seals at the New England Aquarium, walked through Fanueil Hall, and visited City Hall for the first time.
And they know Bill Russell, Boston’s basketball great but have never known about his statue on City Hall Plaza. Thanks Trinity, for introducing Bill Russell, the statue.
As schools get underway, Apprentice Learning is preparing 50 students for apprenticeships throughout Boston in a wide variety of businesses. These worksite partners make time each week to create a hands-on learning experience that helps students understand a particular workplace and practice the professional skills Apprentice Learning staff introduce in our six preparatory classes. Our experienced worksite partners have learned the right menu of tasks. Here is what we’ve learned from our partners:
1. Plan age-appropriate tasks including a mix of work including tasks that require higher level thinking skills.
Nearly all simple tasks are things students enjoy doing: assembling packets, doing inventory, updating a database or straightening shelves. These tasks build confidence and independence. Activities such as customer service and managing money are more challenging although apprentices report that they love doing this work. The trick is to vary tasks enough so the apprentice has an opportunity to learn more about the business by talking with you, customers, colleagues or by seeing firsthand exactly how things work.
2. Don’t expect the apprentice to take the lead.
One of the primary benefits of an apprenticeship for students is learning how to engage with adults who are not their teachers or family members. These types of social interactions are extremely rare for most students and initially, can be complex and stressful. Help ease a student’s discomfort and ask lots of how or what questions. What might be a first step you would take to tackle this task? What do you think should happen next? How do you understand the task I presented to you? How do you think our business makes money?
3. Do know that students are enjoying their experience—even if they don’t tell you!
Universally, the apprenticeship is a weekly highlight for students. Apprentices are much more nervous and anxious then they will let on, or may be learning how their body language can be perceived. Don’t worry. It’s normal! Once in a while, an apprenticeship isn’t a good fit. If that is the case, we will be in touch with you immediately to discuss changes, even to place the student in another setting better suited to his/her skills and interests. We all share the same goal that a young person’s first work experience is positive.
4. Use the experts.
When Apprentice Learning staff stops by to check in—we are not just checking on the apprentice. This is an opportunity for you to share questions, concerns or ideas about working with a young person. Use us as a sounding board. We love to talk about young people at work.
5. Have fun. It’s the Wonder Years.
Eighth graders love Apprentice Learning because they want to spend time with you. Young people at this age are in the greatest growth period in the human life cycle. The ages of 13-15 are called the Wonder Years for this reason. Apprentices are curious and eager to exercise independence and demonstrate their competence. They have intellectual capabilities that are often untapped in traditional school settings. Our oldest apprentices can vividly recall their workplace experience from their eighth grade years. The experience you create matters more than you know.
Shantel is an alumnus from Apprentice Learning’s first year of the program at the Mission Hill School in 2013. Four years later, Shantel is entering her senior year at Fenway High School. Through our First Jobs component, Shantel applied, interviewed and was accepted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Summer Science Academy during the spring of her eighth grade year. Summer Science Academy, as the name indicates, is a program that exposes students to health careers and. Shantel is now focused on a medical career in college.
We are so proud to share a recent feature about Shantel in Brigham and Women’s 2015 Annual Report. Read Shantel’s story here: Shantel Mercedes
Each year, apprentices interested in science and health careers can “try out” these careers with our work site partners including New England Baptist Hospital. But our end goal is to help students find engaging summer internships and experiences to further their skills and interests. For the past four months, we have been helping apprentices apply to a variety of programs.
One program, Summer Science Academy, is especially successful for our apprentices. We have 18 alums currently working as paid interns in this multiyear pathway program. But it all starts with Summer Science Academy. The program is geared for rising ninth graders and is the brainchild of Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Center for Community Health and Health Equity. It is a rigorous and competitive application process that includes a written essay, report card submission, and an interview. This year eight apprentices were accepted to the program.
Here’s a description of this year’s program from the Center for Community Health and Health Equity newsletter:
Summer Science Academy 2016 Theme: Stress Reduction
Our Summer Science Academy (SSA) program is about to begin. SSA is an intensive science instructed program that offers science and health related classes, workshops, field trips, and the opportunity to work at Brigham and Women’s Hospital over the summer vacation to rising high school freshmen. The program aims to create exposure to the field of health and science related higher education and careers.
Each year the six week program follows a theme that guides the structure of the lessons. This year, the theme is stress reduction. The program will focus on empowering adolescent students by helping them understand stress in neurological, physiological, and biological aspects. The common belief that continual elevated stress levels affects adolescent behavior serves as major factor for the program to help students learn to combat stress effectively. Most of the students who participate in the program reside within the priority neighborhoods of Boston. It is understood that people who live in low-income neighborhoods experience higher levels of stress than their peers who do not.
Enhancing the youth’s understanding of stress, where it originates, and how to deal with it will contribute to the overall greater health and success of the students. With assistance from the Benson Henry Institute, the students will have four sessions focused on stress reduction strategies and coping methods. The lessons will also cover important but less talked about factors of stress such as, test taking and its relation to stress, and dealing with stress within relationships.
I recently read an article titled “What Young Men of Color Can Teach Us About the Achievement Gap” on NPR. The author interviewed Harvard education researcher Ron Ferguson on his latest report commissioned by the Urban Institute. Ferguson’s report centers on strategizing better educational outcomes for boys and young men of color.
Ferguson talks about the school environment as a “sociological predicament” for young men of color. They may enter school already several years behind grade level, and in school encounter challenging behaviors from peers; their racial and gender identities are shaped in part by these experiences. What results is that these young men may succumb to stereotype threat, where they subscribe to behaviors and attitudes that do not necessarily fit with their identity, but seem to be a requirement to fit in.
Ferguson’s insights caught my attention. I started thinking: how can Apprentice Learning collaborate with educators in our partner schools to combat this “sociological predicament”? And what strategies can we use so that our students do not feel “othered” in the world of work?
Our hope for Apprentice Learning is that all of our students, including young men of color, have an opportunity to reinvent themselves at their apprenticeship if they want to. We strive to match students with site partners based on their interests and abilities, so that they may “be who they really want to be” and not feel constrained by their position in the social structure.
Nazareth Child Care in Jamaica Plain has been a devoted site partner to Apprentice Learning. As one might expect, the majority of the students we send are female. This year we had two male students of color participate in the apprenticeship at Nazareth. What we witnessed in this new environment is that these young men were tender and nurturing; they broke from their school personas to show another side of themselves.
Students who struggle in school academically or behaviorally can find success at their apprenticeship. And they may encounter a space in which they can see themselves differently. Our goal is for students to begin to think about and plan for their future. This exploration begins with an understanding of who they are, perhaps outside of this sociological predicament, and where they want to go.
As Ferguson says, we have to be aware that there is a complex web of conditions that has gotten us where we are. We are by no means presenting Apprentice Learning as a silver bullet, nor are we trying to bash public education. Our hope is that through open dialogue and collaboration we can provide a better education of life to all of our students.
 Steele, C. (1997). A threat in the air: how stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52(6), pp. 613–629.