Community volunteers sought to advise students on careers

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With one guidance counselor serving 530 students at Carroll County High School, it took Sheree Richter five weeks this past fall to meet face-to-face with every senior for twenty minutes.

“The face-to-face meeting with each student is very powerful,” said Richter, the CCHS Guidance Counselor, who discusses career options with the seniors in the one-on-one meetings. “You really get their attention in a way that’s just not possible in a group, even in a small group.”

With a statewide student-to-counselor ratio of about 450:1, the Kentucky Department of Education and Department of Workforce Development are promoting a program called Operation Preparation, to support school counselors in the advising process by using trained volunteers to help focus students on preparing for their future and becoming college/career ready.

Local efforts to promote Operation Preparation will get a boost when Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Terry Holliday, speaks at the Carroll County Community Development Corporation’s annual shareholder meeting on Jan. 17.  Those attending the meeting will have an opportunity to volunteer for Operation Preparation, Lisa James, superintendent of Carroll County Schools, said.

“We’re honored to have the commissioner come to Carroll County to talk to our community partners about the importance of college and career readiness,” James said. “It takes a community working together to help our young people maximize their career opportunities.”

James commended several community groups, for example, for their recent efforts to promote reading and education.  Carroll County Public Library’s “1,000 Books B 4 K (Before Kindergarten)” encourages parents to read 1,000 books with their children before they enter kindergarten.  The library provides free books for every 100 books read, up to 1,000.  The Housing Authority of Carrollton partnered with the Carroll County School District this summer to provide additional learning activities for youth residents. The Housing Authority, along with the Carroll County Memorial Hospital, also hosted “brown bag luncheons” in the fall at which James and other school officials had meaningful discussions with parents and guardians about their children’s college and career readiness.

Richter said every eighth and 10th grade student will meet with a trained community volunteer to talk about the student’s career aspirations and the training or education that is required for that career.

At the meeting during the week of March 12-16, volunteers will refer to students’ Individual Learning Plan (ILP), including career interest inventory and EXPLORE/PLAN results, to discuss whether the student is on track to meet his or her goals and whether the student is taking the courses recommended to prepare for a successful future.

Volunteers will undergo a 30-minute training session, sign a nondisclosure form, and follow all school district policies and procedures.

Richter said she and Carroll County Middle School Guidance Counselor Beth Wallace are trying to match students who are interested in a particular career cluster with a volunteer who works in or is knowledgeable about that career field. 

The meetings between students and volunteers will take place in a public setting at the two schools.  Richter said that anyone wanting to volunteer for the advising sessions should contact her at (502) 732-7075 or Wallace at (502) 732-7080. 

Parents will receive information about Operation Preparation, along with a registration form for volunteers, which can be returned to Carroll County High School or Carroll County Middle School.

Jeff Fremin is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.