The world’s first accredited, private online school district has arrived in Montgomery County. Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) is the first library system in Maryland to offer the Career Online High School to qualified residents – and it’s free.
“This program prepares students for today’s workforce and offers a second chance to those who are not able to finish high school in the traditional sense,” explained MCPL Director Parker Hamilton during a press conference with Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett in the Executive Office Building on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Going beyond a GED, candidates earn a high school diploma and a career certification through an accredited high school. The coursework begins in one of eight high-growth, high-demand career fields (across a wide spectrum from child care and education to certified transportation), before progressing to the core academic subjects. Each student is paired with an Academic Coach, who helps develop an individual career plan, offers words of encouragement, evaluates performance, and connects the student to the appropriate resources.
“Career Online High School is one of the first initiatives under MCPL’s Workforce and Business Development umbrella that will prepare residents for the workforce,” said Hamilton.
Classes are supported by board-certified instructors, and students have 24/7 access to the online learning platform.
One of the students, Jessica, takes her laptop with her everywhere she goes. Whenever she has the opportunity, she studies. “You open it up and there you are,” she explained. She was working long hours with two jobs and didn’t have time to go to class. When she researched her options, she found the online schools were too expensive.
After admitting that she didn’t appreciate school when she was younger, Jessica said, “It’s been hard. I can actually appreciate what I have.” Knowing how difficult it is without a degree, she believes, “Failing is not an option.”
More than 60,000 adults over the age of 25 in Montgomery County lack a high school degree or equivalent.
“Every 26 seconds another student gives up and drops out,” explained Karen Radulovich from Gale Cengage Learning, She describes Career Online High Schools as “providing a culture of hope for so many who have lost hope for a better way of life.”
Adults with high school diplomas earn 50- to 100-percent more in their lifetimes and therefore spend more which helps local economies and the government.
This past June MCPL began accepting applicants to the program. Currently, there are five students officially enrolled in the program and another three are interviewing this week. Students have 18 months to complete the program; however, by transferring in previously earned high school credits, students may complete the program in as little as six months. Candidates must be at least 19 years old and have completed 8th grade.
Hamilton concluded by issuing a welcome to the students, “We have 21 branches in Montgomery County. That means we have over 600 employees wanting you to be successful.”
Note: This story was originally published by Rockville View. It has been republished here with permission.
Top: Parker Hamilton, MCPL Director speaking during the press conference.
Next: Parker Hamilton, Ike Legget, and Karen Radulovich with two of the enrolled students.
Photos by Rockville View. Used with permission.