PODCAST: High school focuses on building future community leaders

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager 

The staff at Cristo Rey Columbus High School prepare the students they’re working with not only for their own future, but also on how to impact and uplift their chosen communities and profession. 

Man smiling for camera.

“What's more important to us is they are leaders of their community,” said OSCPA member Joe Patrick, CPA, president, on the most recent episode of The State of Business podcast

Cristo Rey students participate in the work study program all four years of high school, an opportunity where they’re able to explore different careers or interests. They go to work five days a month or one day a week at various businesses throughout Columbus, and a team of about four students shares a full-time equivalent position. 

During these work-study placements, Somers Martin, the work-study director of sales, said it is essential students are not “sitting around twiddling their thumbs,” and are doing things to help move the organization forward. 

Woman smiling for camera.

This benefits both the partner organization and the students at Cristo Rey, Martin said, as students can contribute to the goals and mission of the company and strengthen their own career development skills. 

Kristin Mutchler, the work-study director of operations, said before the pandemic educators were regularly discussing what the future of work would look like. COVID-19 pushed them, and everyone else, into that future of remote work much more quickly than they expected. 

“A lot of times our students and our supervisors have very close relationships. They look to their supervisors for advice and guidance,” Mutchler said. “So having that just taken away without any kind of ability to process or talk about it with them in a face-to-face way, I think was really a hard transition for them.” 

Some students have now returned to their work-study placements in person while others are still working remotely. 

Woman smiling for camera.

Patrick said the efforts of Cristo Rey are a benefit to the entire community, as they prepare “… a group of young people to be future community leaders that otherwise without Cristo Rey would maybe not have had that opportunity.” 

“If we can help them with their life skills, so that they understand that being an important part of their communities is something that lifts all the races, all types and lifts all spirits,” Patrick said. “Then we'll really have been successful.”