“My role is to provide students at Morse High School with meaningful, real-life work/career exploration experiences to better prepare them for Maine’s workforce,” said Morse High School Extended Learning Coordinator Scott Stinchcomb.
Stinchcomb is one of a growing number of Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) Coordinators working in schools and districts across Maine who all aim to set up intentional career/work experiences and coordinate efforts for students’ to experience and learn about different jobs, career paths, and work opportunities available here in Maine and beyond.
“The best part of my day is supporting students and listening to their workplace experiences and to see them growing and developing in real time,” he added.
As part of the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP), Governor Mills recently announced $25 million toward paid work experiences for Maine students during a visit to Morse High school. “The energy and positive enthusiasm surrounding this event was amazing,” said Stinchcomb. “It also brought much attention to the value and importance of our Extended Learning Opportunities Program.”
Morse High School has only recently gotten its extended learning program up and running but they have already placed 10 students into career exploration. So far, Stinchcomb has really enjoyed working to set up placements for his students within the local business community – he says the support has exceeded his expectations. He explains that these employee related experiences allow Morse High School students the opportunity to acquire and develop crucial career ready skills to ensure their success.
“This experience is helping me by giving me a better idea of where my future career opportunities stand,” said Libbi Wallace, a senior at Morse High School and participant in the ELO Program. “I am able to test the waters and see if this is something I could do for the rest of my life,” added Wallace who hopes to one day open and operate an early childhood education program.
In addition to placing students, Morse High School is also planning bus tours for students to visit multiple businesses and they are also in the process of planning a Career Fair, Financial Fitness Fair, and Hiring Fair for the Spring. They are also planning on inviting in potential speakers and exploring many more career exploration experiences for students this year.
According to Stinchcomb however, they definitely couldn’t do it all alone. Morse High School is working with a collaborative including Mt. Ararat, Brunswick High School, the Southern Mid Coast Chamber, Mid Coast Youth Center, Retail Association of Maine, the Maine Department of Education, Maine Tourism Association, Jobs for Maine Grads (JMG), and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
“It has been a very effective and productive model to support these ELO Programs,” added Stinchcomb who also wants to thank Bath area business/community partners Terri Crocker of the Creative Play Childcare, Hair Creations, Riverview Physical Therapy, Mid Coast Youth Center, Darlings (Brunswick), and Bath Animal Hospital to name a few businesses. He is also grateful to a number of individuals such as Patrick Manual (RSU1), Eric Varney (Morse HS), Maria Morris (JMG), Rick Wilson (Maine DOE), Doug Ware (Mt. Ararat), Cory King (Southern Mid Coast Chamber) and the entire Regional Collaboration Group. Along with state-level leaders who have helped secure funding for the ELO Program.
“The benefits emerging is the undeniable strengthening of our future Maine workforce and ensuring the success of our students, our local businesses, and the State of Maine economy,” said Stinchcomb.
Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) are hands on, credit bearing courses outside of the traditional classroom with an emphasis on community-based career exploration. These opportunities are personalized for students and help them explore options for their professional lives. They help students engage in learning through instruction, assignments, and experiential learning. The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has made a concerted effort to provide working models, support, and funding opportunities for Maine schools to set up ELO programs within their school communities. To learn more about Maine’s initiatives with extended learning opportunities, visit: https://www.maine.gov/doe/index.php/learning/elo or reach out to Maine DOE ELO Coordinator Rick Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.