Rory Clark

Rory Clark

Brookfield High School’s Career Based Intervention Program has a goal of getting students to graduate but, as the name implies, there is much more to it than that.

“They need to develop skills that set them up for success as adults and as active members of society and, most importantly, to be successful in a career that they want to pursue,” said Joe Meyer, the CBI teacher.

There are six freshmen and sophomore students in the class, which is in its first year, and 10 juniors and seniors. All students maintain the core academic classes they need to graduate, but also get to earn credit for working.

“I love making money, and getting school credit from making money, that’s a win-win,” said senior Rory Clark.

In class, Meyer works with the freshmen and sophomores on job-related topics such as exploring career paths, finding a job and being a successful worker, but also on consumer and shopping skills, navigating romantic relationships, financial management and health and wellness.

The juniors and seniors learn about workplace legal matters, economics, banking and credit, independent living, job applications and interviews.

“It’s not just, ‘You have a job and you’re on your own,’” Rory said. “It’s all about getting you ready for when you get out of here.”

The youngest students get paid to work within the school, such as helping out the maintenance staff, or, as one student is doing, volunteering with a local nonprofit. The older students must maintain jobs of at least 15 hours a week in the community, although the fact that the job market is pinched because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that transportation is an issue for many students, are taken into account, Meyer said.

promoSome students find jobs on their own, but Meyer also is tasked with helping others understand the job opportunities that are available and looking for employers who are willing to participate.

“I wanted to be involved in this program because it was kind of hard getting a job with COVID, and I knew that Mr. Meyer would help me find a job during these times,” said Rory, who works at the Brookfield Family Dollar. “It’s helped me so much.”

Students who need to work during the day are allowed to, as Brookfield High School teachers are now recording their lectures for later playback.

Employers assess students quarterly, and those assessments factor into a student’s grade.

Under state guidelines – the program is funded by the state – students who are eligible must be “academically disadvantaged, economically disadvantaged or are on an IEP (individual education plan) getting special ed,” Meyer said. “The main thing is that these students are sort of seen as at-risk for not graduating. We want to intervene not only towards getting them towards graduation but for setting them up for success.”

Using funding from a grant, the school is training CBI students to receive industry-recognized Ohio credentials in Rise Up, which deals with customer service and sales, and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s entry level safety and health training, said high school Principal Kristen Foster.

Meyer, who has been with the district for nearly 10 years, mostly as a special education teacher, also helps students who are struggling in their core classes.

“My intention is that I am going to be your right-hand man along the pathway to graduation,” he said.

CBI is similar to the old Ohio Work Experience Program, which had been taught by Tim Taylor, now the school’s athletic director. Parents and employers who are familiar with OWE fondly remember it and Taylor’s work, which has helped Meyer in his job, Meyer said.

“It seems to be scratching that itch that Brookfield was utilizing and then went away,” Meyer said. “It seems like people are excited that it’s back.”

Rory called CBI “a great experience. It’s opened up my mind to many other opportunities when I get out of here.”

Rory said he would like to work on Wall Street, but isn’t sure that he will be able to go to college right out of high school, and hasn’t ruled out going into a trade.

“I’m looking at some grant opportunities,” he said. “Mr. Meyer is helping me out with that with colleges.”