Job Olympics prepares Robbinsdale Area Schools’ students for the workforce

Adult Academic Program and Robbinsdale Transition Center students conduct an online job search during the May 11 Job Olympics at Crystal Learning Center. (Sun Post staff photos by Gina Purcell) Adult Academic Program and Robbinsdale Transition Center students complete mock job applications as part of the May 11 Job Olympics at Crystal Learning Center. Area business representatives volunteer to conduct mock job interviews May 11 at Crystal Learning Center’s Job Olympics.
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Adult Academic Program and Robbinsdale Transition Center students conduct an online job search during the May 11 Job Olympics at Crystal Learning Center. (Sun Post staff photos by Gina Purcell)

Preparing for the Olympics typically requires physical training for sports such as track, gymnastics, swimming, bobsledding, hockey, etc. For students in the Robbinsdale Area Schools Adult Academic Program and the Robbinsdale Transition Center, preparing for the Olympics, the Job Olympics that is, means learning employment skills.
On May 11, the programs hosted the second Job Olympics in a decade.
The event included three teams and three phases — online job search, job application completion and job interviews.
“It’s really great practice,” said Julie Kleve, special projects coordinator and teacher with the adult academic program. “That’s why we have the event for our students to practice these skills in a safe environment so it’s not so high stakes. When they actually are going to do a real interview then they’ll have done it a couple times.”
According to Kleve, most of the students who participated in the event speak English as their second language.
“It’s really valuable practice for them to practice these skills,” she said. “We’re just trying to build their confidence and their skill level.”
After each phase, volunteer judges scored the students on their performance and provided constructive feedback to help improve their skills. The interviewers were volunteers from area businesses.
At the end of the event, a bronze, silver and gold certificate were awarded to students on each team.
“It was fun. It was well received,” Kleve said.
The event was made possible by an integrated English language learner grant.
The Job Olympics was initially introduced at Robbinsdale Transition Center more than a decade ago by one of its teachers, Brenda Van Vagt. Van Vagt and other staff members sought an interesting and interactive way to teach employment skills, one of the program’s main focuses. The program hosted several successful events. After a hiatus, Van Vagt and her co-workers wanted to revive the event and include the adult program this time. Staff members from both organizations discussed the possibility for two years.
Van Vagt fell ill with cancer before last year’s event, but was able to attend briefly. She later lost the battle with cancer.
Her colleagues, Ann Rooney and Jackie Slyter, took over planning. The goal is to make it an annual event.
The Adult Academic Program teaches more than 1,200 students per year, kindergarten through grade 12, English language skills, reading, writing and math. Students can complete their high school diploma, prepare for the GED and prepare for college. The program has been around since 1972.
The Robbinsdale Transition Center helps young adults with disabilities ages 18-21 transition from school to adult life. The program is in its 11th year.
Both programs operate in the new Crystal Learning Center.
For more information, visit rdale.org.

Contact Gina Purcell at [email protected]