Ann Arbor community helps prepare Scarlett students for entering the workforce

About 70 volunteers that live and work in the Ann Arbor area volunteered to help during Portfolio Day this year.
About 70 volunteers that live and work in the Ann Arbor area volunteered to help during Portfolio Day this year.

By Andrew Cluley, AAPS Communications Specialist

Eighth grade students at Scarlett Middle School were dressed to impress earlier this week. As part of Portfolio Day, Scarlett students dressed for a job interview with a community member that volunteered to participate in the annual event. With nearly 70 volunteers participating, students had the opportunity to speak with an individual in a wide variety of professions, including doctors, lawyers, business owners, cosmetologists, and many others.

Doug Martelle from the Ann Arbor Police Department was volunteering for his second Portfolio Day. He says it’s a great program that will help the students for years to come. “I think it gives kids a chance to get a jump start on what it’s like to interview for jobs, and become part of the working world,” Martelle says. “As far as being an eighth grader and having a chance to do this now I think it will give them an advantage later on when they actually are interviewing for jobs.”

Martelle enjoys sharing information about his job with students. “Shared some good stories and insights into what it takes to become a police officer, and the different avenues you can take to get there,” he says. But Martelle adds it’s a valuable experience talking with kids and reviewing their portfolio even if they aren’t considering a career in law enforcement.

The portfolios Scarlett students create before the interview include a resume, cover letter, a letter of recommendation from an adult, awards, and samples of work that received good grades. The 14 minute interviews were spent reviewing the portfolio, asking questions of the student, and discussing the volunteer’s career.PortDay3

Christine Kwierant had the unique perspective of being both a community volunteer and the mother of a student going through Portfolio Day. Kwierant is a medical technologist in the University of Michigan’s Department of Pathology. She says her son has been working on his portfolio for several months and became nervous about the interview process as the portfolio took shape. “He actually saw that this is something that looks really nice, and is put together well,” Kwierant says.   “It made him realize that he needs to boast about himself in an interview, and he’s a very shy child, so he doesn’t ever want to boast about himself. This was nice for him to be able to do that.”

After wrapping up an interview with Johnny Epps from Michigan Works, Scarlett eighth grader Mari Cisneros was happy with her Portfolio Day experience. “It’s amazing. I love how Scarlett does this for us eighth graders to prepare ourselves for the future,” says Cisneros. “It was scary and I was nervous, but it was amazing. I loved it so much.”

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Student Support Services Lee Ann Dickinson-Kelley agrees that Portfolio Day is a great experience for students. “For some of these young people today this will be a lifeline to the future,” Dickinson-Kelley says. “For some of these young people today it will be a nice affirmation they’re on the right course, and for some of these young people today it will give them that encouragement, determination, and purposeful grit to keep going or make some minor adjustments.”

Dickinson-Kelley thanks community members for taking the time to participate in this important educational experience. ”It’s a really nice affirmation of what the community does for our school system and the importance of coming together in support of our young people,” Dickinson-Kelley says.PortDay2

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