Henrico County VA

Deep Run program trains future project management leaders

Deep Run High School recently completed a pilot course that is the first of its kind in the nation, based upon project management skills for the purpose of providing adequate training to its students so they can be empowered to enter the workforce with competence and a professional certification.

Future Leaders In Project Management is a non-profit organization that was founded by Jennifer Greene to incorporate project management in high schools so students are prepared to work as associate project managers after they graduate. The year-long course prepares students to take the Project Management Institute’s Certified Associate’s in Project Management (CAPM) test and receive Project Manager’s Institute industry certification, a world recognized certification. FLiPM is designed to bring skilled local workforce to businesses, grant graduating high school seniors job opportunities and stimulate the economy while lowering the unemployment rate.

Upon completing the last project management course in the 12th grade, students who earn their high school diplomas will be eligible to sit for the CAPM test, thus preparing the students to turn their passions in more than 100 different industries into marketable career options straight out of school.

“I believe in industry certification and PMI is the world standard for project management," said Lynne Norris, the school's project management teacher and chair of the Center for Information Technology. "I’m always looking for opportunities to give them (students) the edge and anytime you can put initials behind your name its awesome."

The program came to Deep Run when a CTE specialist for the county's school system approached Norris about the opportunity FLiPM could bring students. The program was born when the Henrico School Board gave its approval. The system not only opened up doors for the students but also for teachers – 10 of whom were given the opportunity to take a project management course to earn certification.

Project management is part of the required curriculum for sophomores at Deep Run in the speciality IT center, but FLiPM allows for students to take their studies a step further. The FLiPM capstone class at Deep Run is composed of 10 students and focuses on IT project management with a yearlong project that puts their skills to use. Through FLiPM, students were able to utilize the tools that project management has taught them in completing different projects areas that interested them.

“We were given the opportunity to work on the CAPM certification and it’s a lot like a real life job, doing a year long project isn't something that most high schooler’s get to do especially putting the skills to use and application,” said senior Stephen Scipione.

The vision is to incorporate FLiPM in to all CTE courses so that a broad spectrum of students are being exposed to technology, terminology, and tools that Project Management uses. Many of the skills introduced correlate to the work place and give students a leg-up when facing employers who are looking for well developed students that are entering the work force. The national certification makes the students more marketable employees with hope of gaining them entry into well paying jobs.

The job market is extremely competitive, but project manager positions are thriving, and there is a strong need for CAMPS (Certified Associate Project Managers), who have a starting salary between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. Offering graduates the certification makes them employable right away, and the skills learned translate into a multitude of professions and are applicable in every industry.

Those skills – project planning, scheduling, human resources, team management, customer and client relations, interpersonal skills, risk assessment and communication – give students a significant advantage that they can carry with them throughout their life, not just for the first few years after graduation, Norris said.

FLiPM also gives students who may not be pursuing college or have the opportunity, to enter a professional career with valid, marketable skills. FLiPM creates a bridge between career/technical education and the public school systems by opening the doors to students. The program works with a local professional chapter of Project Management and provides opportunities to use the newly-gained abilities to partner with state organizations, stimulating local economy.

“I became interested because I wanted an opportunity to use this class to elevate beyond high school and into the real world, while working with a client and mentor. I relish the opportunity to work with organizations outside of school,” said Ram Ramkumar.

After completing the capstone, students are awarded a grant to cover their application fee into the local chapter of PMI, as well as their PMI test, and are offered access to testing software and test preparation books. The local chapter allows for students to continue using PMI skills outside of high school and the chance to get involved with local businesses.

The FLiPM program is expected to expand, and Norris says this year was full of successes.

“My hope is that each year we will be able to continue this program through grants and be able to help facilitate other schools in Henrico. It makes me happy to be able to say we are really providing a valuable resource of well prepared workers as students graduate,” she said.

FLiPM and Henrico Education Foundation, along with the Central Virginia Chapter of PMI are rewarding a student with a $2,500 scholarship as well as title of "Student Project Manager of the Year" at a celebratory dinner held at the Federal Reserve Building.
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