This school year, nine high school students from Cutler Bay High have traded a traditional classroom for one much less traditional — the campus of an active retirement community.
Every afternoon, they head to East Ridge at Cutler Bay to participate in a newly created internship initiative for high school students. The students who are enrolled in the school’s I-Prep program come to the community each day and work in various departments.
“These students are high academic achievers and have been recommended by teachers,” said Kiyria Jimenez, the director of community life who is coordinating the program at East Ridge. “They want to experience the business world from different vantage points. Since the life plan community is structured similar to the hospitality industry, it offers many opportunities for exposure to various businesses such as information technology, accounting, customer service, recreation, security, food and beverage, and marketing to name a few. Uniquely, East Ridge also offers the students intergenerational experiences since residents are typically 80 years and older.”
Students are matched based on their interests. For example, several students gravitated to the Information Technology Department and were especially interested in the community’s television channel. Others have been working in the Lifestyle Department, assisting with the numerous events and activities managed by the department.
An orientation dinner was held with the teens and their families, enabling everyone to learn about East Ridge.
Residents have been eager to have this program available and are very supportive. The teens have been helping them answer technology questions concerning cell phones and computers.
“The students are sharing what is second nature to them and empowering our older adults to use smart devices. It’s a powerful experience for both generations,”Jimenez said. “There are also students who may help by walking the dog of a resident with mobility issues. This helps a teen gain a sense of responsibility as well as learn customer service skills.”
The students will receive grades for their time spent at East Ridge and their time is not considered volunteer hours.
“We have been so excited to launch this program,” she added. “There will be so many benefits derived from having the teens at East Ridge. It’s truly win-win for our employees as well as our residents and we hope for the teens as well.”
East Ridge at Cutler Bay is Miami-Dade County’s only true life care retirement community.
The not-for-profit community draws from the neighborhood charm of suburban Cutler Bay and the vibrancy of Miami in a lush tropical setting of 76 acres, located at 19301 SW 87 Ave. The community offers a continuum of care including independent and assisted living apartment homes in a true neighborhood setting, respite and skilled nursing care, and rehabilitation services available within Three Palms Health Center.
For more information or to schedule a tour, call 305-256-3564 www.EastRidgeAtCutlerBay.com.