by Martha Pavao | World Language Chair
The Work-Job Program has been in existence since 1941, when the School started a “Work Program” to help solve the wartime manpower shortage. Today the Work-Job Program is a dynamic part of the School community. This is the practical side of the School’s missional work with every student. Our community is alive with work everyday: From raising the flag to doing the dishes, each student has a task that makes them part of our family. When students arrive in August, part of their orientation process includes an introduction to their daily “chore” for the community. The idea behind having “chores” for our students is to help them realize that the wellbeing of our School depends on responsibility and simple housekeeping, just as much as it does upon great ideas and good conversations.
Students learn that they are part of a family where they are known and loved. When students don’t clean up after themselves, or students leave the classroom a mess at the end of their day, their peers are the ones who clean up after them. The younger students in 7th and 8th grade are in charge of cleaning and organizing the classrooms at the end of the day. The older students set the tables for dinner after school (50 students set 25 tables in 10 minutes!) Students who live here work in the Culinary Services program in the evening where they work in teams to serve food and wash dishes. Some students serve as maitre d’s at dinner, some students clean the breakfast tables during a free period, and other students clean up the lab equipment at the end of the day. The Work-Job Coordinator works with the Work-Job Prefect to be sure that every student has a job that has real responsibility. These chores are the beginning of the extraordinary SBS leadership program which challenges students to love others as themselves and to serve their community.
While our Community Service program encourages our students to bless the world around them, the Work-Job Program builds relationships and connections between the students right here on campus. An important part of this program is the training of leadership. Our younger students start with simpler jobs and learn how to follow the older students well. This trains the younger students to be responsible and trustworthy. Students also learn how to cooperate well with each other on a daily basis. As students get older, there is an intensive application process to become captains in different areas around campus, (for example, the Health Center, Gaebelein, or Memorial). The older students grow by learning how to put their own needs aside to lead well and train the younger students. Faculty leaders help the captains and leaders learn to manage their areas and become strong leaders. It takes all of us to make this program work well. One of the strongest components of this program is its ability to help fight our own human nature, our selfishness and tendency to think only of ourselves.
Our students are challenged daily to help each other live out their lives in a tight-knit community, with caring adults willing to show them the way. When we are on a field trip, or participating in outside events, adults outside this community are always surprised at how amazing our students are—kind, thoughtful, and caring. This all starts on campus with an organized program built into part of their day that challenges them to “serve the world through their character and leadership.” Giving students a chance to have real responsibility in a safe environment where they are guided and encouraged builds a strong, vibrant community right here on Long Island.