February 2, 2006

CPS Students Get to Work During Groundhog Job Shadow Week

Students with Disabilities Participate in Program for First Time

 

More than 1,500 students will be “working” alongside professionals at places like Eli’s Cheesecake, the Chicago Police and Fire Departments, Fermi Labs, and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, as part of Groundhog Shadow Week, launched today at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, 3857 W. 111 th St.

TV producer and rancher Bill Kurtis, Jill Wine-Banks, CPS Chief Officer of Education to Careers, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner (MOPD) Karen Tamley and Eli’s CEO Marc Schulman were among the many leaders who helped kick off the annual initiative, aimed at giving kids a taste of the real world. Groundhog Job Shadow Week is a national event organized locally by CPS’ Office of Education-To-Careers (ETC).

CPS students will be learning from mentors at different sites across Chicagoland, including The Harris Bank, the Federal Reserve Bank, and City of Chicago Airport Operations. Among officials to be shadowed by students are Fire Commissioner Cortez Trotter and Police Supt. Phil Cline.

“This event is a fun and meaningful way for our students to get an up-close look at a variety of professions out there,’’ said Jill Wine-Banks of ETC. “We are very grateful there are many people, businesses and organizations that are willing to take the time to support and inspire these kids, who are the workforce of the future.”

This year, CPS is teaming up with MOPD to encourage students with disabilities to explore employment possibilities. MOPD connected 27 CPS students with disabilities with employers in the public and private sectors, as well as at some advocacy organizations.

Many of the participating students also attended Disability Mentoring Day last fall, which underscored the connection between school and work through a series of workshops that focused on the skills and education needed to succeed in the workplace.

“For these students, Job Shadow Day is a chance to utilize the skills they learned at Disability Mentoring Day in a professional atmosphere,” said MOPD Commissioner Tamley. “As part of our efforts to make Chicago the most accessible city in the nation, we promote the full participation and equal access of people with disabilities of all ages, in all aspects of life, especially in the workplace.”

Eli’s Cheesecake is the partner organization for the Ag School, and Schulman is co-chair of the school’s Business Advisory Council. Schulman worked with local businesses to make sure that every junior and senior at the Ag School could have a job shadow assignment this week.

“The Ag School has thrived on its partnerships throughout the year, and it’s really been a leader with ETC,” Schulman said. “This program is really a way of seeing [business] through the business person’s eyes.”

Most students begin their job shadowing today, when the program officially kicks off. Many projects will extend beyond this week and some will turn into internships.

The Chicago Public Schools is the nation’s third-largest school district and the second-largest employer in Illinois, with more than 43,000 employees. The school system operates 600 schools and serves 426,000 students.

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