MCD Partners

Memphis Daily News
Memphis Catholic Puts Education To Work
September 21, 2015
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

Milestones are an important part of life that remind us of something that matters.

It’s a needed pause that says, “Look how far we’ve come, and we’re not finished yet.” That’s exactly what Memphis Catholic High School’s Education That Works program is doing this year as it marks its 10th year of operation.

Education That Works (ETW) extends the school’s college prep curriculum beyond the classroom to include corporate internship assignments. Those positions provide a unique opportunity for students to be exposed to the work environment, and to equip them with the knowledge, skills and resources to navigate the employment marketplace. The students win, and Memphis wins.

In its 2014 report, the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW) states, “Employers in the region struggle to find qualified workers at all skill levels despite a large labor pool and a training and education infrastructure with many assets and resources.” The report suggests that a key solution is to align training and education programs with the employers’ skill requirements. ETW is doing just that by providing career pathways for students along with an outstanding academic preparation. It also provides the Memphis business community an opportunity to input in determining the skills needed to ensure a competitive workforce through ETW’s corporate sponsorships.

According to Ted Schreck, ETW director, the corporate sponsors do more than provide jobs. “They mentor the students and take a genuine interest in providing them with positive role models who want to ensure a quality Memphis for all citizens. They give them a reason to hope.” There are more than 60 different corporate, business and nonprofit sponsors in areas such as health care, logistics and business of all sizes. The students come well prepared to succeed. They receive intense training prior to the start of each school year in the hard and soft skills needed for effective communication and professional workplace expectations.

With the help of corporate sponsors who invest in the program, ETW also provides a unique and affordable alternative for low-income families who seek a private, college-preparatory school. More than half the families at the school are at or below the federal poverty level.

To accommodate the unique work/study curriculum, ETW students have longer school days and a longer school year equaling 287 additional hours of instructional time annually. Each student works one day a week, attends school the other four days, and participates in service and extra-curricular activities.
The structure and intensity of the program has resulted in a 99.2 percent graduation rate and a 98 percent college attendance rate as well as specific corporate experiences for the students. Head of school Dider Aur notes that the students are “prepared for the world, and to serve Memphis.” “Our doors open the doors to the next opportunities for our students,” Aur said. “Our goal is to enlist more corporate sponsors to provide more jobs so we can provide more students with this educational opportunity now.”

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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