Belfast Area High School in RSU 71 began implementing an Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) program at the beginning of the school year, and so far, they already have 15 students starting out at a variety of places throughout the community – a veterinary hospital, the fire department, a hair salon, the police department, and the county District Attorney’s office to name a few.
For ELO Coordinator Solomon Heifets, this feat has been one of the biggest success stories in and of itself – just getting the program up and running and getting students connected out into the community.
More recently, Heifets and one of his students experienced one of the best things yet when it comes to extended learning opportunities. As part of an internship set up with the local veterinary hospital, Heifets, the student intern, one of the doctors, and the office manager had a check-in meeting.
“I could hardly imagine a more glowing review,” said Heifets. “The doctor and office manager are thrilled about their intern and are going out of their way to provide her with the best learning experiences they can – teaching her surgical techniques, how to do lab work, how to explain things to the pet owners, and how to manage an office. They are even coaching our student as she works on her college applications,” he added. This type of day-to-day work with students and community members is one of the best parts of the job for Heifets.
Another component of Belfast’s ELO Program is a final project that every student completes. The final project applies what students have learned in an authentic way.
“I feel like this is actually helping me figure out what I want to do with my life, and showing me that I have a lot of options,” said ELO student Kara Richards.
Looking toward, Belfast Area High School is planning a college and career fair and expects to have more than 30 presenters attend. Heifets says that many of the career presenters are also interested in recruiting interns and employees, and he is looking forward to the many ways in which the event will help expand their ELO program.
“As more and more students and community members get engaged with this program, I can already see some big project ideas emerging, and I look forward to the positive impact we will make in our community,” said Heifets.
Belfast Area High School and RSU 71 extend a huge thank you to the following local businesses and organizations: Little River Vet, Belfast Fire Department, Belfast Water District, Waldo County District Attorney’s Office, The Penobscot Marine Museum, and all of the people who have opened their doors and hearts to their students.
Anyone interested in hosting a student intern can contact Solomon Heifets at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207)213-7932.
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), along with state-wide partner Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG), have 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 email@example.com.