Carroll County Public Schools was one of 100 school systems nationwide selected by Google for an IT certification pilot program.
The Google IT Support Professional Certificate program is designed to teach students the fundamentals of information technology and lead to a Google IT certificate. Francis Scott Key High School students will have the opportunity to take the class in September 2021.
Bill Eckles, supervisor of career and technical education, said in an interview that part of the class is an internet-based course with video lectures from Google employees. The other part is hands-on. Students will work on troubleshooting, customer service, networking, operating systems, system administration and security. Eckles added they will install RAM and connect printers to the internet.
According to a news release from the school system, students will also receive instruction on resume and interview preparations, plus they’ll “hear from Googlers about their experiences working in IT.”
The program will start with a single class, but Eckles said it could expand to other schools over time. His hope is that the expansion can begin the year after it launches at Francis Scott Key.
“Once we experience it, we’ll know what to do to get people prepared,” he said.
Jason Anderson, chief of academics, equity and accountability for CCPS, said that part of why the school system selected of Francis Scott Key, he thinks, is so kids in that area of the county won’t have to go to the Career and Technology Center for a class like this.
Ben Hamilton, the CCPS teacher for the class, referred to the school as “less affluent” and suspects administrators were happy when he offered to teach the class.
“We are really really excited just to be able to offer this type of program,” said Shannon Mobley, principal of Francis Scott Key High School. “It’s cool to have something new.”
Mobley said they are not yet sure how it will be offered, but noted it could be based on what classes students took, part of an independent study or part of a capstone class.
Hamilton said he was an IT professional before he became a teacher. “I’m literally teaching what I’d done for 15 years,” the computer science teacher said.
He said the best part of the class is the job-ready skills students will leave with. It’s not part of the high school curriculum, something that surprised him, and usually offered at trade schools.
He suspects that about six to eight students will be interested before they do any recruiting. Students were already asking for that instruction, he said.
Hamilton said he has not received the curriculum yet but expects it soon.
Google was on the lookout for partners and sent CCPS an interest form asking for the school’s qualifications. Eckles said the system’s strong computer science program could have contributed to their selection for the pilot.
Anderson said that during his previous job in digital solutions between 2014 and 2017, he worked with companies like Apple and Google. One of his acquaintances from Google asked Anderson if he wanted CCPS to be part of the pilot program.
Eckles said the class would prepare students for an entry-level certification that could immediately place them in a job right after graduating from high school. Or they could pursue the field even further at a college or university.
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He said it’s an exciting opportunity to expand the school systems' programs and lead students into the tech field.