Career program seeking more local businesses to hire teens
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.