By 1819 News staff

Right now there are 260 seniors at Escambia County’s three high schools and when they return from Christmas break, every single one of them will be working with a personal advisor.

The goal is not just making sure each student gets a diploma but that they're also “credentialed” in one of six areas designed to help grads prepare for life after high school. There are six “college and career readiness indicators” which show that students who are credentialed have a better chance at success.

Director of Career Tech Shawn Butler is spearheading the program, assigning the advisors to work with the students. The 31 advisors are principals, assistant principals, superintendent, deputy of operations, and executive staff, each of whom will work with eight seniors.

“It’s a highly individualized approach to work with students, personally, face-to-face," said Butler. "Our goal is to build relationships, get the students across the finish line.”

The small eight-to-one ratio means seniors will get plenty of time and attention from advisors.

The six indicators are:

-Earning a benchmark score in any subject area on the ACT college entrance exam.

-Earning a qualifying score of 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam.

-Earning college credit while in high school.

-Earning a silver or gold level on the ACT WorkKeys exam.

-Earning a career technical industry credential, or

-Being accepted into the military.

The goal is to have 100% of seniors credentialed in at least one of the areas. Some are already credentialed, such as the students who are dual-enrolled in college classes. Others who have after-school jobs may be considered credentialed depending on where they are working. 

Superintendent Michele McClung is convinced the program will be an important factor in a student’s success after graduation.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to engage with students in a manner where we can mentor them and help make a difference in their future through credentialing," McClung said.

Butler noted that advisors will also determine if a student needs help in a specific area.

“If a student is close to achieving a goal and needs a tutor, we’ll get the tutoring," Butler said. "If a student shows aptitude in computers, we might get Microsoft Office Suite.”

Being credentialed will not only look good on a resume but will also expose students to real-life experiences that come after graduation.

Butler added that getting advisors to sign up for the program was easy since some in administrative positions started as teachers.

“They miss the kids," said Butler. "You go into education because you like working with children and helping them.”

Program leaders said getting seniors credentialed tells students that graduation isn’t the end, but the beginning.