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Co-op Education - First in Ontario

First in Ontario and proud of it!

Thirty years ago, two innovative teachers wanted to provide their students with "real life" experience in business skills. The Co-operative Education Program, giving students from the Fort Frances High School on-the-job training in various businesses, was the first such program in Ontario. What started with 10 students has evolved into over 65,000 students participating in co-operative education, school-work transition programs and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program.

In 1970, The Co-operative Education Program was one in which the school provided the training in business skills and the business community provided the "placement" in which the pupil had the opportunity to practice the skills and gain additional experience which could only be found in a real employment situation.

The original aims of the program were:

1. To aid students in developing skills and acquiring information applicable to all office occupations.

2. To help students acquire specialized skills and information required for successful employment in the office in which they are placed.

3. To provide laboratory experience in the form of a real job situation in the local community which will enable the students to become aware of the requirements of business.

4. To provide students with counsel and supervision during the period of adjustment to a job situation.

5. To provide training that will enable students to advance to higher levels of employment.

Under the direction of Mr. Claude DeGagne, co-ordinator of the program and teacher Mrs. Carol Lyons, 10 students and 10 business offices were involved in the program. The students rotated every two months, thereby receiving training at five different job placements during the school year. Students would meet daily with Mr. DeGagne in a seminar style discussion and then maintain close contact with the firms to ensure that the Department of Education requirements were being met.

The original students participating in this ground breaking program were Kathe Payne, Jo-Ann Gushulak, Joan Gushulak, Lynn Cross, Mary Sieders, Cecile Booth, Judy Hutchins, Bev King, Judy Buffington and Pam Quinn. The participating firms included Reid's Insurance Agency, Fort Frances Clinic, Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, Town of Fort Frances, Fort Frances-Rainy River Board of Education, Charles J. Watt law office, Sleeman, Bradley and Wolder law office, Fort Frances Credit Union, The Ontario-Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company Limited, and Dunwoody and Co.

We are very proud of the continued support we have received over the years from our business community - some who supported this program for over 30 years. Today, over 100 businesses offer placements to the 120-140 students who are accepted into the program each year. Placements are no longer just for business administration, but cover areas right across the curriculum. For example, students gain experience in law, technical fields, education, hairdressing, animal health, dentistry and the medical profession, to name only a few.

Based on their experiences, students have the opportunity to make informed educational and career decisions before they leave high school.

In addition to being 30 years since the introduction of the FFHS Co-operative Education Program, this year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Ontario Co-operative Education Association (OCEA). Co-op staff and students plan to celebrate these events by hosting our "display day" on Tuesday, May 1st, 2001 in the atrium of the high school from 11:30 am to 2:45 pm. Whether you are past Co-op students or supervisors, present supervisors, parents or just interested community members, you are invited to attend this event in order to see the accomplishments of our students.

Letter from the town of Fort Frances
Letter from the Ontario Co-operative Education Association

440 McIrvine Rd. Fort Frances, ON P9A 3T8 Phone: (807) 274-7747 Fax: (807) 274-5171 | login | webmaster