Learning while giving back
Newtown HS sophomore Supriya Singh wants to own a business someday, and she very much looked the part of a young CEO when she welcomed parents and community members to an after-school resume-writing workshop in January.
Singh admitted to “being very nervous” as she outlined the work planned to a full house in the computer lab at the school in Elmhurst, Queens. But, she explained, “This is how I gain experience for the day when I finally own my own business.”
And that’s exactly what business teacher Madelyn Gonzalez had in mind when she designed the monthly student-facilitated workshops for the community that continue to grow in popularity in their second year.
“I created the two-hour workshops to empower my CTE students, to build their self-esteem, to make them career-ready and to give back to the community,” Gonzalez said. “And students fight for a spot as workshop facilitators because they do feel empowered.”
Fliers invited parents, community members and local business people to attend the Jan. 7 workshop at Newtown’s Career and Community CTE Center.
Before the computers were turned on, the three lead student facilitators advised the community members that “resumes should emphasize what the boss is looking for, get straight to the point, fit on one page and be easy to read.”
Then all the volunteers fanned out to help with computer problems, demonstrate and advise one-on-one. Gonzalez was close by to provide Spanish translation if needed.
Feb. 13 workshop will provide time to polish the resumes before participants learn about job searches.
Other upcoming workshops will focus on job applications, interviews, financial literacy, cybercrime, fraud and online protection, and Microsoft, Excel and PowerPoint.
While business courses were once secretarial, Gonzalez said, business students today learn computer programs that prepare them for a variety of careers.
“We provide them with the technical, psychological and academic skills they need to connect their world in the classroom to the world of work,” she said. “Part of that connection they learn by running the workshops.”
Griselda Zapata, the school’s parent coordinator, said some of the community members who come to the workshops are mothers getting back into the workforce and others are parents who want to learn the skills they need to help their own children.
Gonzalez also secures internships in the local community — at museums, libraries, Chambers of Commerceand businesses — to help students make a real-world connection.
“She is a force of nature at Newtown HS,” says Chapter Leader Joe Doyle. “With tender, loving care and putting in an extraordinary number of hours, she has willed into life a high-quality, student-friendly CTE program that gives Newtown’s students skills and confidence.”
And Gonzalez has given the community a resource that can benefit everyone.