Ca­reer pro­gram seek­ing more lo­cal busi­nesses to hire teens

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­

As high school stu­dents are be­ing shaped for col­lege, they are also be­ing prepped to work in the real world. The Charles County Public School sys­tem has de­vel­oped the CRD (Ca­reer Re­search & De­vel­op­ment) pro­gram and they are cur­rently seek­ing more lo­cal busi­nesses to em­ploy teens seek­ing early work train­ing

in prepa­ra­tion for their fu­ture ca­reers.

At the La Plata Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion meet­ing on Aug. 3, Charles County Public School staff mem­bers Traci Chap­pe­lear, ca­reer and tech­nol­ogy ed­u­ca­tion co­or­di­na­tor, Ken Young, ca­reer and tech­nol­ogy ed­u­ca­tion in­struc­tional spe­cial­ist, and Rebecca Pear­son, ca­reer and tech­nol­ogy con­tent spe­cial­ist, all pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity for other busi­nesses to be­come in­volved in the pro­gram.

“We are try­ing to show our stu­dents that putting in time at an ap­pren­tice­ship or in­tern­ship will pay off in the long run,” Pear­son said. “A pro­gram like this will get them a lead­ing edge into the work­force. We are build­ing a pas­sion for them and mak­ing them have a path be­cause they need a fo­cus to be suc­cess­ful.”

The Ca­reer Re­search & De­vel­op­ment pro­gram con­sists of two in-school cour­ses, a port­fo­lio de­vel­op­ment project and a work-based learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It pro­vides stu­dents with the aca­demic, tech­ni­cal and job skills nec­es­sary to pre­pare for em­ploy­ment in a ca­reer field of the stu­dent’s in­ter­est or fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion.

Pear­son said the pro­gram has been trans­formed over sev­eral decades and made more con­cise coun­ty­wide. In the stu­dent’s ju­nior year, he or she has a class­room-based course taught by a teacher who helps to build work skills, in­ter­view skills and other nec­es­sary skills to ob­tain a job in the work­force. Stu­dents ex­plore what they are in­ter­ested in and take in­ven­tory sur­veys to de­ter­mine what ca­reer ar­eas they can pur­sue. In their se­nior year, they ac­tu­ally go out into the work­force af­ter a half day of school­ing.

“In the past I think the pro­gram has had its ups and downs,” Pear­son said. “The rea­son be­ing con­nect­ing place­ments to ca­reers of in­ter­est for the stu­dents. It’s been more part-time work and get­ting ex­tra money rather than look­ing at ca­reer paths. Our goal now is to change that and make it so that this is a ben­e­fi­cial pro­gram and give them con­nec­tions to the work­force.”

The CRD staff has also in­cluded a new coun­ty­wide em­ployee sur­vey taken by all the work­based co­or­di­na­tors, which al­lows em­ploy­ers to pro­vide in­put as far as stu­dent place­ment and ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Not only am I hir­ing a stu­dent, but there is an ad­min­is­tra­tion in the CRD pro­gram that is also chal­leng­ing the stu­dent — and me — to make sure that I’m get­ting the most of the stu­dent and giv­ing them the most that I can,” said John Flat­ley, fran­chise owner of Chick-fil-A in La Plata. “We talk about Charles County be­ing a place to live and work and if we’re go­ing to work to have our stu­dents stay and not move from the county to work, then we need to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for them here. Busi­nesses should take ad­van­tage of that to sup­port the school sys­tem and stu­dents.”

Donna Bowl­ing-Goldey, vice pres­i­dent of lend­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion at Com­mu­nity Bank of the Ch­e­sa­peake in Wal­dorf, said the CRD pro­gram has been very pos­i­tive for her own busi­ness as well. Her com­pany has re­tained two of its CRD stu­dents at the bank af­ter grad­u­a­tion, who later went on to ob­tain other jobs.

“Busi­nesses need to know that the pro­gram is there and know its ben­e­fits,” Bowl­ing-Goldey said. “The stu­dents learn what it is like to earn a pay­check. The busi­nesses ben­e­fit be­cause they re­ceive young, train­able in­di­vid­u­als who can help ac­com­plish tasks that staff mem­bers wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily get done oth­er­wise.”

One of Bowl­ing-Goldey’s pre­vi­ous stu­dent in­terns, Crys­tal Ste­wart, 18, worked as a servicing as­sis­tant at the bank as a 16-year-old stu­dent at La Plata High School. Ste­wart filed doc­u­ments, made copies, called in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and in­ter­acted with cus­tomers. She went on to work as a re­cep­tion­ist at a po­di­a­trist’s of­fice and has since ac­cepted a new po­si­tion as a med­i­cal as­sis­tant.

“Even though work­ing at a bank isn’t the typ­i­cal job for a 16-year-old, my ex­pe­ri­ence was ex­tremely help­ful,” Ste­wart said. “While oth­ers who didn’t do the pro­gram are strug­gling to get a job, I al­ready have the skills that the pro­gram taught me for free. I think in­cor­po­rat­ing more busi­nesses into the CRD pro­gram like shops, in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, banks and any­where that stu­dents can learn work skills is a fan­tas­tic idea. I was able to break out of my shell more, test my bound­aries, be­come more per­son­able, mul­ti­task and take con­trol of any sit­u­a­tion. I can’t pic­ture my­self not be­ing in the CRD pro­gram and be­ing where I am to­day.”

Any busi­nesses and stu­dents in­ter­ested in the CRD pro­gram should con­tact Rebecca Pear­son at 301-934-7393 or rpear­ for more in­for­ma­tion.

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