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When Wildcats and Lions Unite!

Lessons from a First-Year Corporate Work Study Partner

The humid days of August are finally here which means the start of the school year is right around the corner! As our teachers and staff gear up for learning in the classroom, our Corporate Work Study Partners are preparing their spaces for our student associates to continue their professional work experiences come September.

The Welsh Academy at Saint Ignatius High School (The Welsh Academy), who was a first year Corporate Partner last school year, is particularly excited to get back to work. Despite encountering the usual learning curves in their first year, Welsh Academy was thrilled to learn that their student worker, Dierre, was named one of the Corporate Work Study Associates of the 2022-2023 school year.

We caught up with the Welsh Academy team, Maggie Peña, Executive Assistant and Family Liaison, Antoinette Torres-Regula, Admissions Coordinator, and Dr. Mary Ann Vogel, Founding Principal, to gain insights on what they learned in their first year as Corporate Partners and what they are looking forward to next year.

What lessons did you learn from Corporate Work Study (CWS) last year?

Maggie: As a CWS partner, we have to have a plan. The importance of a total daily plan of actual work is a major component to a successful year. Our student associate is essential to our Welsh team and we must ensure that our CWS students feel valued by everyone who works with them in the organization.

Toni: I learned how important concrete directions were for our student’s success. I needed to use my "teacher brain" in how to help him learn new tasks. I couldn't and shouldn't assume a student worker would automatically know how to do things. It is always better to check in and ask questions to determine how much knowledge a student worker has in a specific area. This CWS experience helped me organize how I work with others when giving them directions for the first time.

Mary Ann: Since so much of my experience with CWS has been from the school side, it was insightful to watch it take place from the partner side. It helped me put together that, much like in the classroom, the early time together we spend with the new student is vital. Take nothing for granted no matter how good the training is at school; the worksite is full of new situations for the student to take in. Everyone has to meet the new team member and make sure he feels a part of the group.

How did you/Welsh Academy grow because of Corporate Work Study?

Maggie- I think we are in the early stages of growth in our relationship with CWS and Dierre and how to best utilize all the program and worker have to offer. As we moved into the year, the Welsh team members who worked with Dierre outside of our office staff began to see how Dierre was a help to everyone, in the classroom, working with students, in the office, beyond our expectations. Our goal is that Dierre feels comfortable working with everyone at the Welsh academy and that we all, Dierre and the team, see the value-add of having Dierre with us these five days a month.

Toni: It helped me communicate and manage more effectively while keeping me extra organized.

Mary Ann: Dierre helps us by being a second set of hands during critical moments. He helps us accomplish more in a day than we think we can. Along with the high school students at Saint Ignatius, Dierre has become a wonderful role model to our Welsh Academy students. His presence, because he works with our students throughout the day, is another way of helping our students realize that a private Catholic high school education is absolutely a possibility for them.

How did your student associate, Dierre, grow last year?

Maggie: I saw Dierre become much more open and more conversational with me over the year. Pat Valetta, who directs the Arrupe Program with the Welsh Academy, developed a strong relationship with Dierre. Dierre was a key asset on Wednesday to Pat and the program. Over the year, Dierre took ownership for his plan of work for the day, he knew what to do. He became independent in much of his role. I trusted him in the role, and he managed the phone well while we were in meetings.

Toni: I saw his confidence grow, Dierre shared his thoughts and opinions about choices more openly, and his willingness to try new tasks.

What support did you receive as a new CWS partner?

Maggie: We received quite a bit of support from Saint Martin through weekly emails, timecards, and contacts with our relationship managers.

What advice would you give to new CWS partners?

Maggie: I would encourage you to learn as much as you can about the program including what is and is not allowed for students to do. Go to as many of the supervisor trainings as possible. Ensure that a student knows that taking on a role that seems tedious or minuscule saves the team a considerable amount of time and is truly meaningful work. They may not fully comprehend the importance of how much time they are saving the organization and the help they are giving the team.

Toni: Make the student feel welcomed. Have them meet the entire group. A student team member's work has to matter and have value…let them know how important they are to your company/team/organization.

Mary Ann: Take advantage of all your available professional learning opportunities with Saint Martin. Call your CWS relationship manager right away with questions. Have fun, make sure your student associate feels like part of the team, and make sure they understand the mission/purpose/goal of the organization and how his work ties into that.

What are you looking forward to with CWS next year?

Maggie: I’m excited for our student associate to participate in more roles across the team, and for there to be less of a learning curve.

Mary Ann: I am incredibly proud that the Welsh Academy is a part of the Apostolate of Saint Ignatius High School to build a CWS relationship Saint Martin. I’m excited to spend more time explaining the mission of the Welsh Academy and what we do with our student employees. I love that Dierre will be part of developing the Welsh Academy as a Center of Cura Personalis for Middle School Boys. It will be incredible journeying with Dierre during his senior year of high school.


Learn more about The Welsh Academy at


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