ATLANTA - More than 150 ninth graders from some of Atlanta's poorest neighborhoods, almost all of them students of color, are working their way through private school.
Dozens of Atlanta's largest companies are welcoming the students of a new school called Cristo Rey Atlanta to their places of business and paying the school for their services.
FOX 5's Russ Spencer made the walk to work Wednesday morning with one of those students, 14-year-old Narjjay Samuels. He said he never thought he'd actually have a job this early in his life, but seems happy as he walks to the Midtown law firm Sutherland and his office on the 27th floor. It is a great opportunity for a young man from Atlanta's Oakland City neighborhood.
Narjjay is one of 155 students from low-income families at Cristo Rey who are in class 4 days a week. They then spend their 5th day sharing jobs at 43 different companies including Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS and Delta. Each of the companies pay the school for the work the students perform.
“They're doing real work jobs and it's making a difference in their lives,” said school president Bill Garrett. “We're talking $30,000 for a full-time equivalent team. We went to a lot of companies to ask them to consider this and very few said ‘no' to us.”
Good thing, because that pays the lion's share of tuition for students like Narjjay.
Narjjay works in human resources at Sutherland and yes, the view is spectacular, not to mention the people he works for.
On the day he let Russ walk with him, he was organizing files for one of the lawyers.
“He's a great support to everyone here. All of the students are and he really frees up other employees to do meaningful work,” said Meghan Rhodes, Narjjay's supervisor.
Narjjay is learning what's possible if he keeps up the good work himself.
There are now 28 Cristo Rey Schools across the country operating on the same model and all of their graduates go to college.
Narjjay says he would like to go to Morehouse and be a doctor, a teacher or a lawyer.