As South Portland High School’s Extended Learning Coordinator, Sheree Inman hopes to open career exploration opportunities to as many students as possible. When South Portland received the Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) grant, Inman was tasked with uniting the school’s existing internship and co-op programs and expanding these offerings to more students. Inman has been immensely successful in implementing the school’s ELO Program with many students participating in internships, job shadows, and other career-related opportunities.
Through the program, South Portland students have been able to pursue ELOs in a wide variety of career fields including banking, real estate, media, firefighting, veterinary care, and more. One of Inman’s students was interested in finance and accounting and went on to intern for Saco Biddeford Savings Bank for her ELO. Through this internship, she gained hands-on experience in bank telling, accounting, and marketing and was able to spend time in their corporate office. This is just one of the program’s many success stories in which students have been able to gain professional experience and a head start on their career path.
Another career exploration opportunity available to students through the program is the annual career fair. “This is where students can talk to employers about occupations and opportunities beyond high school,” said Inman. Several local businesses at the career fair also offer job shadows and internships for students.
“The best part of my job is when I can make a connection with a student into a field that they really want to learn more about,” said Inman. Seeing students get excited about these opportunities gives her a great sense of pride in her work.
“Without this type of programming in schools, students don’t always get to see what actually happens in various career fields,” said Inman. In the future, she hopes to continue to provide individual ELO opportunities while expanding offerings for group ELO experiences. She is also working with special education teachers to help bring ELO opportunities to their students.
Inman and the South Portland ELO Program are very thankful to their community business partners and to South Portland’s Economic Development Director William Mann.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.