By Charles Lussier
Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School announced Wednesday that it named Carissa Graves to oversee its students who hold part-time jobs with local employers as part of the school’s signature work-study program.
Graves is married to U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge. In its news release, Cristo Rey says only that she and “her husband, Garret, live in Baton Rouge and have three children.”
Joining Cristo Rey as its corporate work-study program director at Baton Rouge’s newest Catholic high school represents her return to the field of education, according to the news release.
Carissa Graves began her career as an AmeriCorps volunteer, working in urban public schools in Michigan and later in the state of Washington. Over the next several years, she worked with children in the outdoors as well as in the classroom, teaching at private and public charter schools and tutoring in California, Washington, D.C. and Baton Rouge, the release says.
Most recently, she’s worked on a variety of civic and charitable efforts locally that included community outreach and development, flood recovery, and serving on the Volunteer Louisiana Commission, according to the school.
Cristo Rey, a network of 32 schools in 21 states, has an unusual financial and instructional model that requires students to work at white collar businesses at least one day a week. The businesses in turn pay for part of their student workers’ tuition. The rest of the tuition is paid for via a mix of public financing of private schools, fundraising and the student’s family. Cristo Rey’s Baton Rouge high school opened in August and has about 70 students in its initial class of ninth graders.
Brian Moscona, Cristo Rey’s president in Baton Rouge, said Carissa Graves is the “perfect person to build the corporate work study program” at the school, a job that will entail overseeing the training of students before and after they start their work-study jobs, as well as providing support to their new employers.
For her part, Carissa Graves said Cristo Rey brings “the kind of innovation needed to position our kids to be competitive in today’s job market.”
“Cristo Rey’s approach to preparing students for successful careers is ahead of the curve, and I’m excited to build upon the program’s solid foundation,” she said.
Carissa Graves is the second person to oversee the school’s work-study program. The first person, Stacie Williams, is no longer with Cristo Rey, but the school won’t discuss why, said Kendall Hebert, a Cristo Rey spokeswoman, Wednesday.
Williams was hired by James Llorens, the former chancellor of Southern University. Llorens retired abruptly as president in October just two months after opening the new school. After a national search, Moscona was selected in January to replace Llorens. Moscona previously spent four years as principal of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School in Baton Rouge.