Rend Lake College once again has been awarded more than any other community college in the state through the Illinois Cooperative Work-Study Program, according to Director Ed Ruffino of the Center for Business Services.
Over 100 RLC students and countless grade and high school students throughout the district are expected to benefit from the $90,700 Work-Study Grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education during the coming school year.
Rend Lake College students will provide classroom assistance and individual tutoring for young learners in 18 schools thanks to the monetary award, with each institution matching payroll costs from the IBHE grant to double the earned income potential of RLC participants.
The amount awarded for Fiscal Year 2003 would have been the same as a year ago, except for an overall reduction in ICWS grant allocations statewide of approximately 7.1 percent. Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the Bureau of the Budget released a total of $1.95 million, compared to an original announcement of $2.1 million.
Only Bradley University, Northern Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University and Dominican University will receive more than Rend Lake College. Chicago’s Richard J. Daley College is the only other public, two-year college among the top 15 recipients. A total of 50 grants were awarded.
Cooperative education, commonly referred to as co-op, on-job training or internship, is a method of instruction that provides an opportunity for students to be employed in their field of study and earn college credit for their work, Ruffino explained. Most co-op positions are paid ones.
In this case, the Cooperative Work-Study Program Grant is designed primarily to enable Education and related majors a chance to practice in their chosen field.
The Cooperative Education program is in the process of recruiting Education majors to be employed as student assistants in Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton and Perry counties. Qualified students work 15-20 hours per week and are paid $6 per hour.
Interested students should contact Ruffino or Mark Clark in the RLC Student Center (Ext. 1354 / 1352) Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for more information.
Obvious benefits are to the host schools and the young students who receive mentoring support and potential role models.
"For our students," said Ruffino, "the primary benefit is the fact it gives education majors a first-hand opportunity to see if teaching really is what they want to do for a career. The academic and professional work experience is tremendous. It also helps our students pay for their college education and earn college credit."
Rome Grade School in Dix and Wayne City Grade School have been added to this year’s recipient list. Teachers familiar with the program approached their new superintendent at Rome and requested they apply to be included in the project.
Other area schools expected to benefit from RLC Cooperative Work-Study Grant recipients include Benton Consolidated High School, Benton District 47, Bethel Grade School, Bluford Grade School, Ewing-Northern District 115, Farrington Grade School, Field District 3, Ina Grade School, McClellan School, Mt. Vernon District 80, Pinckneyville District 204, Sesser-Valier Schools, Summersville District 79, Thompsonville Grade School, Woodlawn District 4 and Woodlawn District 205.
"The program definitely is a ‘win-win’ proposition for both Rend Lake College students and participating schools and their students," said one area administrator.
"College students bring enthusiasm, are eager to learn and have many talents that are useful in the classroom," said another.
Grant funds must be disbursed by June 30, 2004.
The Cooperative Education Work-Study grant program is open to students who have completed at least 12 semester hours and have a grade-point average of 2.0 or better. Students must be making demonstrable progress toward their selected majors.
Many transfer students are excused from classroom observation courses at the four-year level because of the quality and length of their service to the district schools, according to Ruffino.