A cooperative (co-op) education program
is an “academic program that combines a comprehensive classroom curriculum with
work experience in the business community” (2012). These
types of programs are elective courses, where students are able to be released
from the school and work a part-time job; this helps them gain experience
related to a career goal.  Co-op
education programs benefit many students with varying career goals due to the
flexibility of the program. Not only do students gain useful career and
leadership skills in the classroom, they are able to apply these skills with
supervised on-the-job training (OJT). No matter the students plan for after
high school, the skills developed while in a co-op education program will carry
them far into their professional career. 

One program that utilizes cooperative
education is Family and Consumer Science (FACS) Essentials in the Human
Services Career Cluster.  In this program
students learn about food preparation and nutrition, housing, consumer and
personal finance, apparel selection and care, parenting skills, healthy relationships,
leadership skills and employability skills (2018). This program is a one (1)
credit program where the student will be enrolled in the course ‘Family, Home
and Consumer Technology/Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Essentials. Students
in this program also have the opportunity to be involved in Family, Career and
Community Leaders of America.

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Family, Career and Community Leaders of
America (FCCLA), is a “nonprofit career and technical student organization for
young men and women in Family and Consumer Sciences education in public and private
school through grade 12” (2015). FCCLA was founded in 1945 and is the only
Career and Technical Student Organization with the family as its central focus
(2015). Students who participate in FCCLA gain many valuable skills such as
character development, interpersonal communication and career preparation. The
overall purpose of FCCLA is “to provide opportunities for personal development
and preparation for adult life” (2015). One way that FCCLA provides these
opportunities are through their many national programs. One program in
particular, Financial Fitness, that allows the students to teach one another on
the many ways to make, save, and spend money (2015). Financial fitness, teaches
students the importance of money management and financial planning. Teaching
students how to handle their finances wisely early will help them in their
adult life once they start their families. 

Students who are in the Family and
Consumer Sciences Essentials program are also able to apply for the Bright
Futures Gold Seal Vocational Scholars (GSV). This scholarship is available to
students who have completed at least three full credits in a Career and
Technical Education program, achieve a weighted 3.0 GPA in non-elective high
school courses and a 3.5 GPA in unweighted career education courses, the
required minimum on the ACT, SAT or Florida Postsecondary Education Readiness
Test and 30 community service hours. (2017).  

There are many benefits to participating
in cooperative education programs such as Family and Consumers Sciences
Essentials. Students are able to gain experience in a chosen career field and
obtain valuable knowledge from employers when completing on-job-training, learn
skills that will assist them in their adult life personally and professionally,
and are able to join organizations that foster an environment that promotes
personal development. 

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