It would be hard to argue that Zoe Land and Grace Maloney weren’t prepared. But that didn’t mean they weren’t nervous.
The sixth graders sat in the Apache Innovative School hall and watched as their classmates got called in one at a time. The two reviewed their resumes and straightened their clothes. They’d be up soon enough.
A friend popped out of the interview room.
“It wasn’t that bad!” she said, as Land and Maloney went about quizzing her on the questions she’d been asked. Still, the two had butterflies in their stomachs.
“I think I’ll do a good job, but I am a little nervous,” Maloney said.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever had to interview for anything,” Land said.
As part of an initiative administrators at Apache tried out last year, the first using the innovative school model, Apache sixth graders on Tuesday spent part of their afternoon interviewing for a variety of jobs throughout the building.
There are the morning greeters, who are tasked with making the younger students feel welcome as they enter the building. There are the garden waterers, who keep the school’s vegetables happy and hydrated. There’s even an “ApacheIS personal stylist,” whose job it will be to display clothing from the school’s lost and found on a mannequin in a way that is “appealing to the eye and will attract the owner’s attention.”
The idea, says Pam Lewis, the district’s director of elementary services, is to give the school’s older students the opportunity to take on leadership roles and give them responsibilities outside the normal classroom environment.
“We tell the kids that these are the kinds of things they’ll be using sooner than you think,” she said. “Whether they’re applying for a nanny job a few years from now, or going to Price Chopper or Sonic for a job, these are the kinds of things employers will want to see, that you’re a reliable, dependable person.”
For the first few weeks of school year, they’ve been practicing the kinds of soft skills that come in handy in the working world. Each morning, the sixth graders work on greeting each other, practicing how to give a handshake — firm, but not too firm — make eye contact, and smile. They’ve also been thinking through what applicable skills and experience they have for the jobs that are open so they can highlight them on their resumes. Maloney had library assistant and student ambassador among her top three choices. On her resume, she featured her work as a babysitter, and her volunteer work in the library as a third grader.
Maggie Carter, an Apache sixth grade teacher, said the program gives sixth graders a chance to experience leadership roles in their final year at the elementary level.
“They’re really able to be responsible citizens at our school,” Carter said. “It gives them a lot of opportunities to practice different skills.”
Students will find out what positions they’ll be assigned in the coming days, and then start in their roles, which will have them performing duties two or three times a week.
But sorting out which students end up where may not be easy. Principal Brett Pumphrey said each job had many qualified applicants.
“The applicant pool is great,” Pumphrey said. “I think this next generation is looking awesome.”