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Breaking the classroom tradition
Mentor program at Lanier Career Charter Academy prepares students for future careers
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Apryl Bramlett listens as Madeleine Blakeley presents her project at the Honors Mentorship Program Community Presentation Night at the Lanier Charter Career Academy on Thursday, April 23, 2015. Blakeley's study was to determine whether Broadway is using modern technology effectively. - photo by Erin O. Smith

While most students study and learn within a traditional classroom setting, every year Hall County permits a select group to wander beyond the walls of their high school.

Working with businesses, local hospitals and other organizations, these students are given the opportunity to prepare hands-on for their future careers.

Thursday night at the Lanier Career Charter Academy in Gainesville, the students offered summaries of their experiences with presentations that analyzed issues found within their respective area of study.

The program’s coordinator, Jennifer Killingsworth, has been preparing them for this night since the beginning of the year.

“Students are chosen to participate in the program based on their previous excellence in the classroom and because they have a passion for the area in which they will mentor,” Killingsworth wrote in an email. “HMP removes the ‘learning ceiling’ found in many classrooms because students are learning and participating in the day-to-day activities of a career area they have a passion for from professionals who are successful in the career.”
The students were given weekly assignments designed to explore the nature of their mentorships as well as prepare for their main goal — a detailed research project that explores an issue within their mentorship.
Students were required to write three autobiographies related to their topic, interview their mentor or mentors, analyze their role within their mentorship and design a community presentation based on their subject. The presentation included two parts: the first, a brief visual project presented to a relevant group of students, and the second is a highly detailed website that displays the specifics of their research.

Topics varied from the impact of modern technologies on Broadway and the international theater market to an analysis on the gender gap in the engineering profession.

“The Honors Mentorship Program has provided me with an opportunity that so many young people struggle to obtain,” said Tori Kirchoffer, who mentored at Lake Lanier Islands to study business and marketing. “So many students constantly scramble to find internships to create a resume that looks appealing to colleges or specific jobs, but I’m lucky that my school offers a program that does that for me. I’m so thankful for this chance to learn about the business world first-hand ... it’s been such a stress reliever and an amazing experience. I couldn’t have chosen a better way to spend my senior year than in this program.”

The program is known for providing students with the opportunity to establish professional relationships with local businessmen and women, as well as meet members of their community, which can open doors later.

“Not only does the program offer me the ability to really get to know about the career I’m interested in, but it also allows me to form all kinds of connections,” said Bekah Keller, a student mentoring in fashion at a local boutique, Fab’rik.

“Many students keep in touch with the mentors and continue to turn to the mentor for guidance, perhaps for college and program information or references for admittance to competitive programs while in college or post-graduate work,” Killingsworth wrote. “Several students have been offered summer positions to continue learning after the mentorship program is completed.  I am now seeing students who have participated in HMP graduate college and postgraduate programs who have shared their success stories with me.”

“The credit these former students give to the HMP experience is unmatched with any program I have been familiar with in education.”

All of the research websites presented Thursday are viewable on the Honors Mentorship Website at hmp.hallco.org.  The links are located underneath the “Student Projects” tab.

For more information about the Hall County Honors Mentorship Program, visit hmp.hallco.org or contact Jennifer Killingsworth at j.killingsworth@hallco.org.

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