School division building internship program

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — Officials with Shenandoah County Public Schools are partnering with county businesses to develop an internship program for high school students to fulfill a state mandate on student career readiness.

School officials hope to offer internship, mentorship and job shadowing opportunities to students in an expansion of similar existing programs at Central High School and the Triplett Tech vocational school, Assistant Superintendent Ebbie Linaburg said on Tuesday.

“We’re looking to provide them on a more global basis,” she said.

SCPS officials have spoken with Valley Health, the Shenanodah Publishing House in Strasburg, the Pollywog Place day care centers in Woodstock and Strasburg and the Bowman Andros fruit processing plant in Mount Jackson about participating in the program, Linaburg said.

Conversations have focused on broad ideas so far, she said.

“We’ve met with some business leaders to talk about what the program would look like,” she said. “It’s just something new and different to look at.”

The internship program is one of several initiatives SCPS wants to enact before new state graduation requirements kick in for the 2018-19 school year, Linaburg said.

“The Profile of a Virginia Graduate emphasizes college and career readiness, career exploration and workplace skills,” she said. “It calls for some career exploration in elementary schools, a career exploration class in middle schools and in high schools they want a college and career plan for students.”

The PVG is part of the Standards of Accreditation, which the state is also revising. It requires that in addition to content knowledge, community engagement and civic responsibility, students “align knowledge, skills and personal interests with career opportunities” in order to be “life-ready” after high school, according to the Virginia Department of Education’s website.

The year-long public comment period on the proposed revisions ends in the fall, when they undergo executive branch review.

The new standards are scheduled to be finalized on Dec. 1, according to the VDOE.

Bringing on more high school students won’t be a problem for Pollywog Place Nursery and Preschool, according to its executive director, Jamie Pence.

Staff at the Woodstock location routinely hire high school students to work in its after-school programs, as well as interns studying early childhood education at James Madison University and other area colleges, Pence said.

“We have programs where [college] students come in because they have certain observation requirements,” she said.

Pence is working with SCPS to bring on student interns from Central and Strasburg high schools to work in both locations, she said.

“We lose some who graduate every year, so school starting in the fall allows us to hire more high school girls,” she said.

Lisa Zerull, Valley Health’s academic liasion, said the Winchester-based hospital system runs multiple programs for high school students in Shenandoah, Frederick, Clarke and Warren counties and in Winchester.

One example, the Health Care Hospitality Program, trains students for entry-level positions in nutrition, transportation and janitorial services.

“It’s an acknowledgement that some students are not destined for two- or four-year colleges and instead want to live and work in their home communities,” Zerull said.

She added that Valley Health is an “open enrolling partner” in collaborations with school divisions, and that the hospital system has not yet reached a formal agreement on internships with SCPS.

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