Cooperative Office Education gives students a real-world taste

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2004

BY SUE ELLEN ROSS – Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Sandi Brown has never held a job until this past fall. As a member of the Cooperative Office Education (C.O.E) class at East St. John High School, the student is working for St. John Parish in the Financial Department.

Along with six other classmates, Brown is gaining job knowledge as she completes her last year of studies at the school.

The C.O.E. course is offered to seniors with a strong desire to gain classroom knowledge, as well as actual work knowledge in the business world. Students enrolled in the program work 3-5 hours per day in an entry-level office position for the duration of the school year.

Practical experience and development of professional skills are the main objectives of the program, according to Shirley Harris, C.O.E. Coordinator. She added that the school greatly appreciates the involvement of local businesses and organizations that have participated in the past, as well as those participating this year.

“This is a big task for them,” she said. “They are acting as instructors as well as mentors.”

Classroom instruction includes human relations, office etiquette, time management, communication skills and computer operations and techniques.

“I’m learning quite a lot, especially with the computer,” said Brown. “This is a good experience for me.”

Her classmate, Erica Mulligan, also works in the LaPlace government building. She assists in the Sheriff’s Office.

“Erica fits in very well,” said Kenny Oubre, director of data processing. “She’s doing a great job.”

Erica’s mother, Tarni Mitchell, feels her daughter is taking her job very seriously. “This is an excellent program,” said Mitchell. “It is a good course of transition into the professional world.”

In addition to Brown and Milligan, five other seniors are also learning on the job through the C.O.E. course: Jarmica Andrews, East St. John Elementary School; Brashonda Bailey, E. I. DuPont DeNemours & Co.; Krystiana Guillory, Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC; Jenna Sonnier, Shell Chemical LLD; and Theo Variste, Betr-Care, Inc./Law Office of Deborah Dugas.

All of the students are looking forward to graduation and taking the next step toward their future. And with the experience they are gaining through the C.O.E. course, they will be one step ahead of the game.