Letter: County schools offer career guidance programs for all students

August 10, 2012

I am writing this letter in response to your Aug. 9 article, "Budding car mechanics get their hands dirty working on police cares," on the Automotive Program offered by Howard County Public Schools. While I applaud the article as long overdue coverage of one of the many programs that focuses on career guidance and training offered by our school system, I am dismayed by the continued outdated term "VoTech" being used in the article.

Now that we are in the 21st Century, it has become obvious that all students need career guidance, not just those entering the world of work directly from high school. HCPSS offers many programs through its Centralized Career Academies housed at the Applications and Research Laboratory (ARL), next door to the Board of Education building on Route 108.

Several of these programs provide certifications and accreditations to students that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars at community colleges and technical training schools. However, many other programs are aimed at students who are planning to transition directly to a 4-year college, or university, directly after high school. These programs include (but are not limited to): Architecture, Finance, Computer Programming, and Biotechnology.

Students in these programs experience the depth of academic rigor and real-life situations that become an essential component of their future academics and career successes. In an age where approximately 50 percent of incoming college freshman will not graduate after six years, the students in the Career Academies programs are better prepared for the scholastic environment of post-secondary education, making it much more likely that they will be successful in college and beyond.

As the school year begins, I want to offer a reminder to parents and students to consider the many diverse experiences students can have in the Howard County Public School System. The Centralized Career Academies combine the specialized expertise of teachers, with advanced education and years of industry training, and interactions with hands-on advanced technologies to provide enriched educational experiences for our students. Information about these programs is available in the High School Course Catalog, or on the Applications and Research Lab's website.

Jennifer K. Walker

Biotechnology Teacher

Applications & Research Laboratory

Howard County Public School System

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