SPaRC Aims To Prepare Students For Careers

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Dave Hitchens, President of FSM, introduces Gary Stockbridge, President, Delmarva Power.
Dave Hitchens, President of FSM, introduces Gary Stockbridge, President, Delmarva Power.

On Friday, January 17 First State Manufacturing in Milford hosted Gary Stockbridge, President of Delmarva Power, as he spoke about the Success Plans and Roads to Careers (SPaRC) program that is gaining attention in Delaware. A partnership between the business community, educational system and community service organizations, the effort aims to build strong student success plans.

Beginning with high school students, SPaRC aims to transition student plans into career opportunities with local businesses through internships, summer jobs, job shadowing and e-mentors. Looking at the high school dropout statistics and other warning signs from the education community, organizations including Junior Achievement, United Way, Delaware Department of Labor and Delaware Department of Education decided to create a partnership to help school-aged children during their high school years.

The goal of the program is to improve career readiness and graduation rates by maintaining a clear path to success for local youth as they progress through high school and continue to relevant employment.

“The reason many of these kids drop out of school is because they do not have some sort of mentor or objective they want to obtain,” commented Stockbridge. “We began to think how can we bring businesses into the schools to become mentors, helping kids understand how important their education is.”

Supervisor of Career and Technical Education Mark McDaniel, who was in the audience at Friday’s meeting, commented that Milford School District has used the same technology that the SPaRC program promotes at the middle school level to help establish curriculum for students as they enter high school.

“It has been a useful tool for us to see what the students are interested in learning,” commented McDaniel. “This has helped us to start planning future courses and curriculums for high school in an attempt to connect these students with employers.”

Stockbridge states that the SPaRC program assists local, well-intended organizations to plan with each other and move in one direction. This one direction, he says, will serve the greater good of preparing students for employment opportunities after graduation.

“The goal is to improve career readiness and graduation rates by maintaining a clear path for students,” commented Stockbridge. “Hopefully at the end of the day the student will get a job out of this.”

The next step forward for SPaRC involves the program’s steering committee as they establish a charter and strategies to revamp student success plans, implement and fund the technology and partner with business to create summer jobs and internships.

The steering committee for SPaRC includes representatives from the The Business Roundtable, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, Delaware Economic Development Office, Department of Education, Department of Labor, Delaware Workforce Investment Board, Junior Achievement of Delaware, the Rodel Foundation and the United Way of Delaware,