Education That Works is Win-Win-Win Idea


Dr. Mary C. McDonald

John Adams expressed his thoughts on education saying, “There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living, and the other, how to live.” His words seem to foreshadow a high school here in Memphis whose mission is to do just that.

Memphis Catholic High School’s Education That Works component is a unique approach to education that expands the internal and external learning environment, and links the classroom and the workplace so that students are prepared for college and beyond.

It was an idea that started out as a way to provide financial assistance to students from low-income families in underserved urban areas so that they would have an affordable opportunity to attend a private school, and a choice in their education. The benefits to the students mirror the benefits to the businesses who partner with the school by providing entry-level positions to the students, and a corporate world experience.

And the Memphis community reaps the benefits as the beneficiary of an educated workforce with the experience and work ethic needed to make our community competitive in the marketplace. It is a win-win-win idea.

Education That Works is a corporate internship program where students, in teams of four, each work one day a week in local businesses and nonprofit organizations. The other four days of the week, the students attend classes in a faith-based traditional college prep program that has an extended day and a longer school year.

There is also a robust student life at the school, and a variety of extracurricular offerings that promote leadership, team-building and service to the community. The students come to school, and to their jobs, with a seriousness of purpose, highly motivated, and well-prepared to meet their responsibilities.

They have quickly become a valued part of the corporate organization. In return for their services to the companies, the students earn two-thirds of their tuition from the corporate sponsors and gain valuable work experience.

By the time they graduate, they have worked at four different organizations and have learned a variety of new skills. They also bring to the companies a highly developed set of skills, particularly in the area of technology.

What make this education model so successful is the commitment of the corporate sponsors, sponsors such as FedEx, AutoZone, Le Bonheur, Terminix, ALSAC/St. Jude, Re Transportation, Baptist Health System, and many others who see the benefit to their organization, and to the community, by investing in these students’ success.

And succeed they do. The school has a 99 percent graduation rate, and 100 percent of the graduates have been admitted to college. Nearly two-thirds have received college scholarships and attend colleges and universities across the country as well as in the Mid-South. And, according to the reports from corporate sponsors, their success is reflected in their corporate assignments as well.

The students are beating the odds, the predictions of their current economic situations, and living out the education that John Adams saw as a needed value for this country.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a National Education Consultant, at 574-2956 or visit