Graduating Seniors at FHS Get Help from Business Community on Planning Their Futures

For the past four years, Freedom High School’s Leadership Academy has provided support and guidance for seniors unsure of what comes after graduation. Using coursework in English, U.S. Government, Math, and Business as a lens to explore potential careers, the Leadership Academy pairs students with mentors in their identified fields. Leadership Academy stresses personalized and project-based learning and offers students opportunities to give back through community service projects.

The mentoring program provides the keystone of the FHS Leadership Academy experience. Beginning in March, the 24 current students began a series of six virtual meetings with their career mentors, discussing employment opportunities that range from commercial food service to amusement park management.  Dr. Douglas Fulton, director of school administration for Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) and former Freedom principal, said, “It is important for mentors to let young students know their skills are valued outside the school house. That connection cannot be duplicated in a regular school setting.” Fulton founded Leadership Academy during the 2019-2020 school year.

Teachers and counselors in the program work with Sharon L. Wright, vice-chair of the LCPS School-Business Partnership, to match students with appropriate mentors. As founder and president of Loud and Clear Marketing, Wright also has served as a mentor to the program. She noted, “The value to the students is immeasurable. Listening and learning from leaders who are working in the field the student is interested in helps guide a student who is uncertain where they are going.” Academy students have worked with pilots, tattoo artists, sports statisticians, EMTs, realtors, and professionals in many more fields.

Danielle Henry, whose son is in the program this year, noted that “being able to work with a mentor and see how to turn an interest into a living is invaluable.” Mentor Erica P. Rowe highlighted a benefit to business professionals by calling the experience “an opportunity to give back by mentoring the future generation of world changers.” Rowe, the founder and CEO of Business Brand Ambassador LLC, has been working this year with a student interested in a women’s beauty industry career. That student turned her part-time job at CVS into a full-time field beauty sales coordinator position and joined a program to help pay for a related business degree. Rowe has also begun to introduce her to contacts in the industry.

One current student called Leadership Academy “the most important thing school has taught me.” Another explained, “I knew this program would force me to think more about my future, which I’ve always avoided. Now, I know way more about the possibilities and am no longer as scared.” Community members interested in mentoring should contact FHS Principal Neelum Chaudhry. 

For more information on the Leadership Academy, including a list of participating partners, visit the Freedom High School website.

Published May 23, 2023