Ap­pre­ci­a­tion lun­cheon high­lights suc­cess of PGCPS’ ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing pro­gram

Busi­ness part­ners, high school stu­dents hon­ored for out­stand­ing achieve­ment

The Enquire-Gazette - - News - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

The Prince Ge­orge’s County Col­lege and Ca­reer Readi­ness and In­no­va­tive Pro­grams Depart­ment held its 2016 Em­ployer-Em­ployee Ap­pre­ci­a­tion Lun­cheon on April 28 at Martin’s Camelot in Up­per Marl­boro.

The ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing pro­gram en­hances stu­dents’ aca­demic back­ground while pro­vid­ing them with op­por­tu­ni­ties to em­bark on an ed­u­ca­tional ad­ven­ture in real-world busi­ness set­tings. It is a for­mally struc­tured pro­gram through an ar­range­ment be­tween the Prince Ge­orge’s County Pub­lic Schools sys­tem and em­ploy­ers from pri­vate in­dus­try, lo­cal, state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies de­signed to as­sist stu­dents in mak­ing a smooth tran­si­tion from school, post­sec­ondary to ca­reers, ac­cord­ing to the Prince Ge­orge’s County Pub­lic Schools web­site.

“Our goal is to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for our stu­dents to be pre­pared for col­lege and ca­reers when they leave our doors,” said La­teefah Du­rant, aca­demic of­fi­cer for the col­lege and ca­reer readi­ness and in­no­va­tive pro­grams depart­ment. “It’s a part of the ef­forts we have, our ca­reer re­search and devel­op­ment pro­gram, and the em­ploy­ers who em­ploy our stu­dents to make sure that they get those prac­ti­cal, real-world ex­pe­ri­ences in the work­place. It’s just ex­cit­ing to have the em­ploy­ers here to cel­e­brate the stu­dents and our op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate the stu­dents as well as our em­ployer part­ners.”

As part of its mis­sion to pro­vide pro­grams and ser­vices that en­hance and ex­pand aca­demic op­por­tu­ni­ties, the depart­ment pre­pares all stu­dents to grad­u­ate col­lege and ca­reer ready to meet the de­mands of a global so­ci­ety. All pro­grams of study — which con­sist of multi-year se­quence of course­work, ca­reer guid­ance and work-based learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that en­ables stu­dents to make more in­formed col­lege and ca­reer choices — have strong col­lab­o­ra­tive re­la­tion­ships with busi­ness, in­dus­try and post sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion. Equally im­por­tant, some pro­grams also af­ford stu­dents an op­por­tu­nity to earn col­lege credit, in­dus­try cer­ti­fi­ca­tion/li­censes, or pre-ap­pren­tice­ship ex­pe­ri­ence prior to leav­ing high school, the PGCPS web­site noted.

“This al­lows stu­dents to ac­tu­ally pre­pare for their fu­ture, es­pe­cially since some stu­dents don’t know what they want to do in their ca­reer,” Ex­pe­ri­en­tial Learn­ing Pro­gram In­struc­tional Su­per­vi­sor Nancy Ma­gloire said. “We show them all 13 ca­reer clus­ters so that they re­ceive ex­po­sure to what po­si­tions fall un­der each clus­ter. Then they de­cide what in­dus­try they think they should go into. They also take ca­reer in­ven­to­ries to find out what their per­son­al­i­ties are best suited to go into. … We def­i­nitely want them to have enough ex­po­sure so if they say they’re un­able to go to col­lege im­me­di­ately, they have that ac­cess and they have those skills.”

Choos­ing a ca­reer academy means stu­dents will grad­u­ate from PGCPS col­lege and ca­reer ready. Ca­reer academies in­fuse 21st cen­tury skills and hand­son learn­ing into a rig­or­ous high school plan of study. PGCPS adopted this model based on pro­jected work­force trends and fu­ture em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties within the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., metropoli­tan area, ac­cord­ing to the web­site.

“It does take a spe­cial em­ployer to hire stu­dents to un­der­stand the needs of stu- dents, be able to cor­rect stu­dents and teach them. For most of them, this is their first op­por­tu­nity to be in the work world,” Du­rant said. “For their par­ents, it’s great for their stu­dents to have that type of op­por­tu­nity be­fore they go off to col­lege, be­fore they go off to work so that they have a chance to learn some things.”

When it comes to the stu­dents, Du­rant said the big­gest ad­van­tage of the ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing pro­gram is how eye open­ing it is in terms of what work is re­ally like, what wages they’re able to re­ceive and un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance of go­ing to col­lege in or­der to make more money.

“We re­ally are pre­par­ing stu­dents for life af­ter high school and ev­ery­thing that that en­tails,” Du­rant said.

For as­pir­ing busi­ness and mar­ket­ing stu­dents like Natasha Cole­man-Ball who never had a job un­til she be­gan her first se­mes­ter in the pro­gram, she learned what it’s like to be in the real world. Not know­ing what she was get­ting her­self into at first, the Largo High School se­nior said she is glad to have had an op­por­tu­nity to get work­place ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It has given me more schol­ar­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties and more work op­por­tu­ni­ties. I’m glad that I was able to get into this pro­gram,” said Ball, who plans on at­tend­ing Jarvis Chris­tian Col­lege af­ter grad­u­at­ing high school. “It taught me a lot about fi­nan­cial [lit­er­acy] like how to man­age your money. I’m grate­ful be­cause I would have to use that later on in my years in high school, in col­lege and for­ever more.”

For for­mer stu­dents like Mar­cus L. Matthews Jr., who grad­u­ated from the pro­gram in 2007 and is now an ad­vi­sor for the U.S. Depart­ment of De­fense, he shared some ad­vice about how oth­ers can not only find their pur­pose in life, but get their ca­reer go­ing as well.

“No. 1, try to find what your in­ter­ests are,” Matthews said. “Do what you want to do and don’t let any­body stop you. So if you’re try­ing to find your pur­pose, I ask God and I wind up work­ing in my pur­pose and then I would achieve what­ever I want to achieve. Don’t let any­body mis­con­strue you or try to make you think one way or an­other.”

Matthews said be­ing in the pro­gram was ben­e­fi­cial for him, hav­ing gained in­valu­able skills that em­ploy­ers look for in a can­di­date. What stu­dents are do­ing right now, in terms of aca­demics and work study, Matthews said they should use and im­ple­ment those skills now which will ul­ti­mately re­sult in greater suc­cess for their fu­ture.

“It can help you fur­ther on in life. I was able to fin­ish up my un­der­grad in grad school pro­gram in about three years,” he said. “I was done by the time I was 21, 22 and then I took some of those skills and I ap­plied them in my daily life. Now I own and op­er­ate a busi­ness [through ACN Op­por­tu­nity LLC which is the world’s largest di­rect seller of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, en­ergy and es­sen­tial ser­vices for home and busi­ness] that is mak­ing a lot of money and I’m also in a ca­reer path where I’m able to help sol- diers.”

This year, more than 20 work-based learn­ing stu­dents were hon­ored with cer­tifi­cates for their out­stand­ing achieve­ment in the col­lege ca­reer re­search and devel­op­ment pro­gram. Lau­rel High School se­nior Marc Valme was among the re­cip­i­ents.

“It helped me be­cause it taught me [what] the real world is go­ing to be like and when sit­u­a­tions [come about where] you have to take care of your­self and [as­sume] re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Valme said. “I re­ally ben­e­fit­ted from it. If I [had] never joined the pro­gram, I would have failed. I feel more con­fi­dent know­ing that I have a job at a young age of 18. Now I think that ev­ery stu­dent should join so they can feel more com­fort­able in case an op­por­tu­nity doesn’t work out, they’ll have a back-up plan.”

The pro­gram is of­fered to 11th and 12th grade stu­dents wherein they ap­ply course con­tent to prac­ti­cal work ex­pe­ri­ence and de­velop aca­demic, tech­ni­cal and work­place skills. The pro­gram pro­vides in­struc­tion on Mary­land’s ca­reer devel­op­ment model that in­cludes ca­reer aware­ness and ex­plo­ration; devel­op­ment of ca­reer port­fo­lio to pro­fi­cien- cies in work­place readi­ness, per­sonal fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, per­sonal growth and devel­op­ment, and em­ploy­ment ex­pe­ri­ences. All grad­u­at­ing se­niors must sub­mit a se­nior pro­ject that will pro­vide ev­i­dence of stu­dent achieve­ment and show­case skills for suc­cess as well as aca­demic and tech­ni­cal skills.

“The pro­gram showed me how to be a bet­ter per­son all around,” said Christo­pher Cal­houn, who is also a se­nior at Lau­rel High School. “Through­out high school, it showed me lessons and nu­ances that I never knew be­fore.”

Thanks to the suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship PGCPS has with lo­cal busi­nesses, Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Vice Chair­woman Carolyn Bos­ton said she is pleased with the ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing pro­gram.

“It’s one thing for us to ed­u­cate them but if they get that ex­pe­ri­ence and ac­tu­ally work in the work­place, it helps to con­nect that ed­u­ca­tion piece that we are pre­par­ing them for,” Bos­ton said. “When they get out of high school or they go to col­lege or go straight into their ca­reer, it will give them that ex­pe­ri­ence and ac­tu­ally make them more mar­ketable for a lot of em­ploy­ers.”

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