The Right Stuff

Local student excels in work-based learning program

Rilee Clark (seated) has been working with the city of Evart as part of the Evart Public Schools work-based learning program. Pictured with Clark are Jay Wallace, Evart school teacher (left) and Kathy Fiebig, Evart city clerk (right).

Rilee Clark (seated) has been working with the city of Evart as part of the Evart Public Schools work-based learning program. Pictured with Clark are Jay Wallace, Evart school teacher (left) and Kathy Fiebig, Evart city clerk (right).

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EVART — Rilee Clark, a student at Evart Public Schools, and participant in the work-based learning program, has excelled at her position with the city of Evart, city clerk Kathy Fiebig said.

As part of the work-based learning program, Clark needed a work experience she could do during her school day, but was concerned about how much time and extra work the experience might be. Due to her age, she had very little real-world work experience and was hesitant about what type of work would be best for her.  

"We were approached by Michigan Works! West Central in March 2021 about being a work experience host site," Fiebig said. “Our office was shorthanded throughout most of 2021 due to staff resignations. We agreed to be a work experience host site and were eager to take on students."

At the same time, Jay Wallace with Evart Public Schools reached out to Michigan Works! regarding the school’s work-based learning program. He had students who needed a work experience location and hoped they could help.

The three entities partnered to provide the city with much-needed assistance and the students with a great work experience.

“We are thankful that Michigan Works! West Central stepped in with funding at precisely the moment the school had a qualified candidate,” Fiebig said. “Having Rilee Clark in the office has been extremely helpful. She has integrated seamlessly with our staff and has made a very positive impact. She is on time, stays on task, has a positive attitude and she is a joy to work with.”

Clark tackled the job of digitizing the city’s cemetery records, providing customer service to visitors and callers and assisted in organizing the office. She has gained customer service skills, phone etiquette, how to build positive workplace relationships and many other employable skills.

“She has helped us clear our backlog of paperwork and is now helping us get all of our cemetery records online,” Fiebig said. “We bought the program for this years ago and have never been able to free up enough time to utilize it. We are very excited that Rilee is getting this done.”

The goal of the work-based learning program is for students to gain valuable experience in the workplace so that by the time they graduate, they will have the skills, experience, and a network of professionals to help them succeed. 

“I really think this program is amazing,” Clark said. “It has really helped me learn more about adult life and what working in the real world will look like. The program gave me many options that were a benefit to me. It wasn’t like someone was making me do it, I wanted to do it. 

“The program helped me fill in some things in my resume and taught me some of the things I will need when interviewing or looking for a job,” she continued. “It has really helped me get out of my comfort zone and explore a different career. It gave me the ability to work in a business office and learn things you would need to do and that would be expected if choosing to continue in this job in the future. The program helped me find new characteristics in myself I didn’t know and brought me out of my shell.”

“Rilee is a quick learner and has excelled at everything we have asked her to do,” Fiebig said. “She has made such a great impact on the city we have figured out a way to keep her on staff part time after the work experience is completed. Thank you MichiganWorks! and Evart schools.”

Wallace added the partnership between the school, the city and Michigan Works! is a beneficial program that has made a positive impact on the work-based learning program.

“Rilee is a prime example of the success that can happen when organizations work together and take advantage of the resources available,” Wallace said. “Two big pieces of the program’s success are Rilee’s work ethic and willingness to step outside her comfort zone, and the willingness of the city’s office personnel to nurture her and help her build confidence. Hopefully, we will be able to use this program to benefit other students.”

For more information about becoming a work-experience host site and other young adult services, visit MWWC.org/youth.