Vocational Education Prepares Students for Future Employment

Green Chimneys Students learn and practice a variety of employment and job skills as part of the “Learn and Earn” program, where they receive individual and group education, seek campus job assignments, and get paid—modestly—at an hourly rate. With assistance from a vocational education counselor, classroom teachers and social workers, interested students voluntarily sign up for age-appropriate work assignments in various campus locations.

The Farm & Wildlife Center, dining hall, building and program offices, and Boni-Bel Farm & Country Store all offer opportunities for students to acquire real-world skills. Students work under the guidance and supervision of skill coaches on vocational task responsibilities that demand commitment and are designed to mirror those found in a community workplace.

This highly sought-after program builds self-discipline, confidence, and life skills, and establishes the relationship between work (learn) and stipend/reward (earn). One half of the money earned through this program is placed into a savings account for each student, to be disbursed upon their discharge from Green Chimneys School. Students may keep the other half of their earnings to spend on trips, during special occasions, or at home.

The vocational counselor also educates and assists eligible students and their families in the process of obtaining working papers and can provide a letter of recommendation to students who are applying for part-time jobs in their community.

“Learn & Earn” Vocational Education Programs

Boni-Bel Farm

Boni-Bel Organic Farm is comprised of a two-acre organic garden, an orchard and a hundred acres of native swamp and woodlands. Under the supervision of a professional organic farmer and vocational coaching staff, Green Chimneys students participate in vocational training and therapeutic activities around sustainable agricultural practices. The experience on the Boni-Bel Farm is significant and transformative for students—the natural rhythms and cycles seen and experienced on the farm lead to a deeper and more accessible understanding of the world. Students are involved with the day-to-day functions of the farm and its retail operations, which include a seasonal farm stand and quaint Country Store. Vocational skills in beekeeping, maple syrup production, small machinery operation and customer service challenge the students all year long.

Culinary Arts

A well-structured cooking class provides the opportunity for students to learn culinary skills while experiencing cuisine from around the world. Each semester, the planned curriculum focuses on a culinary style or cuisine and students attend a two-hour class once a week. Embedded in the program are the core safety and food preparation skills needed for all cooking techniques. The class is led by Chef Kaplan and supported by two sous chefs, ensuring that each student receives the necessary support to master the techniques. Student chefs also learn the discipline, careful attention, and responsibility expected in the culinary field, in both their behavior and appearance. They wear culinary uniforms to reflect the professional nature of the training.