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SBL Offering Work/Learning Experience for MHS Students

July 26, 2022 4:25 p.m.

Sarah Bush Lincoln and Mattoon High School are partnering in a new cooperative education program.


The work-study opportunity is a community program intended to provide work-based learning experience for sophomore, junior and senior students at MHS. Through this, students will receive on-the-job advanced skills training.


The pilot program and partnership with MHS will begin with a target implementation for the fall of 2022, and students must apply by August 3. Applications can be completed online in the Sarah Bush Lincoln careers site:

SBL Human Resources Director Denise Smith explained, “The intention of this new program is to provide meaningful work and experiences to high school students that will hopefully plant a seed of encouragement to pursue a career in healthcare.”


“Our school is filled with students who have varied interests and experiences,” MHS Principal Rich Stuart said. “The program with SBL offers students another opportunity to explore a field they may have never considered. We are grateful to be involved in the pilot program.”


Students will receive class credit and a course grade. They will work with instructors to develop individualized co-operative education plans, which includes both technical and employable skills training agreed upon by the student, their co-op teacher and the employer.


Students will be assessed based on performance to this plan, including feedback from site visits and supervisor assessment. Through the program, students will take three credits in the morning or afternoon portion of their schedule, on a semester basis, and are managed by a school instructor. 


Schedules are arranged between the student and employer with work occurring in the morning or afternoon for two–three hours with a frequency of five days per week. Students must also be able to work a minimum 60 hours per semester, which equates to a minimum four hours per week.


Students can apply to the program for each semester of interest, once they meet eligibility requirements. Final selection is determined by SBL Human Resources and MHS leadership. 


To qualify for the program, a high school student must be at least 16 years old. They must have a minimum GPA of 2.0, hold excellent school attendance and have a recommendation from a school counselor/instructor.


Smith said, “The program provides a great opportunity for students to see firsthand the connection between their classroom education and work.”


“There’s a variety of benefits that comes with a program like this,” she added. “Whether students want to go to college or have other career plans, this program will get them work ready by translating what they learn to real work scenarios in a variety of fields.”


SBL employs several high school students throughout the system who work as patient operation partners, in Food and Nutrition Services, Facilities Services and more.


Once employed, they are eligible to apply for tuition reimbursement and other healthcare scholarships. The SBL Volunteer Guild awards about $25,000 a year to students in a variety of healthcare careers.


“We continually invest in our employees to help them achieve their goals, and create a better life for themselves and their families. We also know that when our employees learn and grow, our patients reap the benefit,” Smith said.


SBL hopes to expand the program in other area schools in the future.






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