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High school students who work face unique challenges. While they may thrive in the workforce and benefit from the financial gains and real-life experience of holding a job, they often have difficulty balancing work and school. They need educators who understand their situation and can help them stay on track to graduate. The Children’s Guild Alliance launched The Academy for Working Students (TAWS) to address the struggles of working high school seniors. The innovative TAWS program gives students the opportunity to create a flexible school schedule that fits around their work commitments. Students receive support from mentors and career coaches and develop individual career plans to boost their graduation success.

High school students who work face unique challenges. While they may thrive in the workforce and benefit from the financial gains and real-life experience of holding a job, they often have difficulty balancing work and school. They need educators who understand their situation and can help them stay on track to graduate.

The Children’s Guild Alliance launched The Academy for Working Students (TAWS) to address the struggles of working high school seniors. The innovative TAWS program gives students the opportunity to create a flexible school schedule that fits around their work commitments. Students receive support from mentors and career coaches and develop individual career plans to boost their graduation success.

“A full-day school schedule did not work for me,” says Alexandra Tsytsareva, who worked 30-37 hours per week at a childcare center while participating in TAWS. A very independent person at an early age, Ms. Tsytsareva says, “TAWS gave me the ability to manage my own schedule and have responsibility over my life.” She graduated high school this spring and is pursuing a degree in education at City College of New York. She looks forward to a career in early childhood education and one day owning a childcare center.

Genesis Velasquez joined TAWS after discovering she was pregnant. “I wanted to get my diploma on time but needed flexibility,” she says. Through TAWS she was able to graduate from high school and stay at home with her child. Ms. Velasquez works part-time as a dog sitter and is exploring other work-from-home opportunities. She plans to attend Montgomery College and is interested in becoming a certified personal trainer and having a career in the health industry.

Roderick Dreher enrolled in TAWS so he could support his family during a time of crisis. His older brother had been critically injured in a car accident and required around-the-clock care. His younger sister was just starting kindergarten and needed help getting ready for school. Even before his brother’s accident, Mr. Dreher had held a job at a local retirement community. By participating in TAWS, Mr. Dreher could pick up additional shifts at work and still help out at home.

He graduated with his class and was able to attend school events when his schedule allowed. He says, “It was difficult, but I feel prepared for the future, and I don’t feel like I missed out on the high school experience.” He is majoring in biology at Coppin State University with the goal of becoming a pharmacist.