Workforce Florida paid tribute in Tallahassee Wednesday to career-oriented middle school programs, acknowledging pilot programs in 14 counties, including Pinellas Park Middle School.
That is where 13-year old Anthony Ruffin just became the first student certified as an expert in Microsoft Works 2010. That means if a teacher assigns an essay, his is going to shine.
"When everybody's writing it out. I'm able to type it and do different things with it that make my paper a little bit better than everybody else's," Anthony explains.
Then there is the long game.
"I want to have a good future so I think, I feel, that it would be better for me to plan now what my future could be," he says.
Because almost any career path can utilize computing skills, he knows these skills are valuable.
"I'm not too sure what I want to do when I grow up, but I'm sure I'm definitely going to be using something like this," Anthony predicts.
Pinellas Park Middle School offers career-oriented certifications in more than half a dozen fields: Technology, culinary arts, agri-science, transportation, criminal justice, digital arts and digital music and communications.
All of the programs are designed to feed into high school career-oriented programs.
The principal sees no downside in children thinking about career paths.
"I don't think it's too early, because they can always change their focus, there's no lock-in," Dr. Robyn Witcher explained, adding the programs have a lot of hands-on, personalized features.
"We're hooking them today before they get to high school, because it's too late, if you don't hook them in middle school, they may not make it to high school," Witcher said.
The next MS Word 2010 certification is expected to go to 13-year old Alex Ferreria, who views the accomplishment as just the first notch in a long belt.
"In my opinion, it can make you more efficient…you can do it quicker," Ferreria said, adding his real interest is in graphic arts.
Like Ruffin, Ferreria has immediate uses for his word processing prowess, some of which extend beyond the printed word.
"I usually help a lot of my friends because a lot of my friends don't know how to do certain things," Ferreria said.
Officially, the state calls all of this effort "CAPE," which stands for Career and Professional Educational Academies. Florida lawmakers launched the program, which is now running about one year ahead of schedule.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?