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Thursday’s Calvert County Board of Education meeting featured two presentations on programs the school system is implementing to focus on student career readiness.

The first presentation was on the Calvert County Public Schools mentorship and internship program. It was given by Calvert Career and Technology Academy Principal Mark Wilding, Supervisor of Secondary Science, STEM and Science Expo Yovonda Kolo and Assistant Director of Human Resources Victoria Karol.

Karol explained that high school seniors are selected for mentorships based on a GPA of at least 88 percent, participation in at least two advanced placement courses, talent in a certain area and teacher recommendations.

She said some current mentorship programs are in the areas of accounting, nursing, interior design, medicine and law.

“You’ve got to have that face-to-face. It means so much,” Karol said of students being in a work environment.

Wilding said specialized internships in areas like Academy of Finance, Academy of Health, Service Technology and Project Lead the Way have additional requirements. He said during the 2013-2014 school year, internships will also open in the areas of Academy of Teaching and Project Lead the Way Engineering and Biomedical Science.

CCPS Superintendent Jack Smith said he will probably add a new full-time internship/mentorship coordinator position into the fiscal 2014 budget.

“Every student needs someone who they can call on who doesn’t have another full-time job,” Smith said, adding that increased internships will also lead to additional funds needing to be added into the CCPS transportation budget.

“With the depth and breadth of options out there, we’re going to need to make sure that students who don’t have transportation have a way to get there,” Smith said.

Board of Education President Rose Crunkleton asked how students were graded on these programs and Karol explained that their mentors give them interim and final evaluations. Karol said she always recommends that students and mentors discuss the evaluations prior to the mentor turning them into the school system.

“It looks darn good on a college application,” Board of Education member Dawn Balinski said of the program.

“This is the real application of the knowledge that students learn,” Kolo agreed.

The second presentation, given by Executive Director of Administration Kim Roof and Supervisor of Student Services Molly Gearhart, was on the school system’s new Career Cruisers software program.

“There’s a lot of logistical issues that we need to work out, [but] we think when you see the potential this has for our schools, you’ll be really excited,” Roof said of the software, which she said is being implemented through a three-year contract.

Gearhart said the software will be used by middle and high schoolers, and will most likely start with eighth graders taking an interest and learning style inventory.

From that point, Gearhart said students will be able to explore different colleges and careers and also start their own portfolios, which will follow them into high school. She said high schoolers will be able to use the program to start four-year plans, register for courses and see what graduation requirements they still need.

“This program doesn’t do the scheduling,” Gearhart clarified. “It talks to our scheduling system so our administrators can do the scheduling as they always have.”

Gearhart said the software also features interviews with people in various positions that might be of some interest to students.

“Job fairs are nice, but that only gives a certain perspective to our students,” Roof said.

Gearhart said the program can be accessed from home, “so families can look at it in the evening and look at the portfolio and course planner and help register for classes from home.”

Even if students switch schools, Gearhart said they could still use the software, since it follows them by ID number.

Roof said she plans to update the board again on the program sometime late next spring. Board of Education member Tracy McGuire asked that she provide some feedback on whether the software relieved guidance counselors on some of their administrative tasks.

“I hope this helps them address some other student issues,” McGuire said.

ldukes@somdnews.com