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Middle School Job Holders Club teaches students invaluable skills

Typically, job readiness and career exploration becomes a bigger priority in high school, but why not sooner?

At the West Mifflin Area Middle School, the Job Holders Club tackles job readiness hands-on, putting 6th-8th grade students in jobs throughout the school.

Mindy McClelland — a special education teacher in the district — has helped head the program for five years. Two years ago, Job Holders became an official club. Students hold numerous job throughout the school, like student librarian, student secretary, technology assistant, photographer, recycling crew, school store employee, morning attendance and collections, and much more. Over 40 students participate in the club.

Sixth grade students become a part of the club based on teacher recommendation, although some 4th and 5th grade students are unofficial members of the club, starting as student ambassadors, while also being mentored by 8th grade students.

McClelland said the club is extremely helpful with career-driven decisions, intrinsically motivates good behavior, and offers job management skills and age appropriate social skills. 

Along the way, students are able to learn a number of applicable, employable skills. Students who work at  the school store, for example, learn how to put in purchase orders, while student secretaries get a hands-on experience with behind the scenes management tasks.

“My job has taught me a number of skills, like customer service skills and how to manage money,”  said one student, who works the school store.

“I’ve learned the value of helping people, staying organized, and working hard,” said another student, who works as a student librarian.

Additional school events are also made easier through the club. For example, student workers helped run a pancake fundraiser with all money raised being used by the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) committee for future interactive projects and events. Students helped make pancakes, fill orders, and run an efficient event.

“The kids have bought into it. You’re working with genuinely good kids who care about their success and care about being kind and helping people,” said McClelland. “We just give them direction and say what needs to happen. And with their young, motivated minds, they always make it happen."

Beyond skills learned, McClelland said the Job Holders club is crucial in helping foster a positive school environment. Students take ownership in their jobs, McClelland said, and it gives them extra motivation to get to school, too.

“That sense of ownership and pride is big. They are far younger than I am and their ideas streamline things that they come up with, that I don’t even think of,” McClelland said. “It’s a give and take situation – they’re teaching me things and I’m teaching them things, and as a result we work PBIS in.”