Annual Impact Report Extended Story: Creating a Holistic Learning Experience

April 11, 2020


Twin Cities

Jerry Utecht, Teacher at Harding Senior High School, & Ge Thao, Class of 2018 & Current Intern at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota

When we say Genesys Works takes a village, Harding Senior High School is what we mean. When we say a student needs to be holistically supported to succeed, Harding Senior High School is, once again, what we mean.

This Saint Paul public school has been a partner since the inception of Genesys Works in 2008. And, due to strong advocates at the school – and, importantly, at the district level – the partnership has both breadth and depth.

With the support of Jerry Utecht, a teacher in work-based learning, more than 130 students have entered the program and earned a professional work experience. Jerry is proud to champion the program because he sees what it can do both long-term and short-term for young people: “The program builds confidence, accountability, self-reliance, and improved maturity. The expectations of the Genesys Works program have helped to improve student attendance and increase student motivation and work-based experiences,” explained Jerry.

It’s champions like Jerry who are crucial to the success of Genesys Works and its students. But the support also needs to come from the top. And, with Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) superintendent and Genesys Works Twin Cities board member Joe Gothard, it does.

With more young professionals coming from SPPS than any other district, Joe understands how important district-wide support is for the success of Genesys Works young professionals. Joe has made the long-term success of students a priority: “I want to see the diversity within our schools and classrooms serve as the framework to build our future. Partnering with Genesys Works and our community creates significant opportunities for student success.

This support makes an impact. Class of 2020 student Gilverto de los Santos Rios now has the opportunity to explore a potential career in web development at Bremer Financial. Gilverto plans to study computer science in college and explained that he’s motivated by his family: “I hope I can make my parents proud in the future, and me being in this program is the beginning of making that happen.

Joe Gothard, Superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools, & Gilverto de los Santos Rios, Class of 2020 Intern at Bremer Bank

For Class of 2018 student Ge Thao, Genesys Works not only led to a high school internship at 3M but it also provided opportunities beyond high school. Ge is now in a college internship at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota and is a member of the Genesys Works Talent Development Pipeline program while he pursues his degree at Hamline University.

This village of support, when combined with the perseverance and drive of students like Gilverto and Ge, leads to successful outcomes for young people. It leads to long-lasting, impactful relationships with mentors and role models. And, it leads to a culture of support and success. Says, Jerry, “Genesys Works is a key component for our school, students, and community. It plays a vital role in assisting our students to become more aware of their individual talents and to face their fears that may be holding them back.”

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