School News Blog
  • Best Buds: Mentorship Program Forges Friendships Between County Employees and Stafford Students

    Posted by Jessica Anderson on 11/14/2022


    Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” This school year, nearly two dozen Stafford County employees are making good on this philosophy by giving their time and creativity to mentor Stafford students in two of our elementary schools. Through an ongoing collaboration with Stafford Schools known as the Best Buds Program, county employees are given the opportunity to make real differences in the lives of area youth. Launched in 2014 by Stafford County’s Human Services Department, the program was created with a simple objective - to link area students with natural mentors. Recruiting some of the best the county has to offer from across multiple departments (including Human Services, Parks and Recs, Sanitation, and Fire and Rescue), the program has connected 22 mentors to Hartwood and Conway Elementary students for the ‘22-23 school year. 

    Presently, mentors and mentees meet twice a month in their respective school’s cafeteria. Each session has a theme and activities are centered around this theme. Students and mentors share a snack during their time together, and mentors take the opportunity to get to know the students, encourage them academically and learn more about their personal goals. Emphasis is also placed on improving self-esteem and creating healthy relationships. 

    Since its initial inception at Conway Elementary nine years ago, the program has expanded to include Hartwood Elementary in 2016 with program leaders hoping to involve more schools in the near future.  Program Liaison and Human Services Manager Stephanie Ball describes the program as a “highly successful collaboration,” due largely in part to the unwavering support of principals JR Raybold (Conway) and Brian Raksa (Hartwood). Ball also calls school counselors Lisa Snow (Conway) and Laura Mungo (Hartwood) “champions” of the program, with their collective coordination efforts at the school level empowering the program to run seamlessly and make the greatest impact possible.

    Due to the current size of the program, students must currently be referred by school staff. For those looking to become mentors, recruiting takes place in August and requires completion of program paperwork and mentor training. For the greatest impact, there is also a one-year commitment required in order to become a “best bud.” Stafford Schools is deeply committed to fostering the social and emotional well-being of every child. We are proud to partner with the Department of Human Services to bring such a meaningful initiative to our students. 

    To learn more about the Best Buds Program, please contact the Stafford County Human Services Department at (540) 658-8720.


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  • Feature Friday: Automotive

    Posted by Sandra Osborn-Peters on 12/17/2021 9:45:00 AM

    Automotive Pathway: Driving the Plane, Train, and Automobile

    Are you interested in the automotive industry? Stafford County Public Schools (SCPS) has the perfect program to build your skills!

    Open to high school students as early as the sophomore year.  Students at any high school in Stafford have the opportunity to participate in an automotive program.

    student replacing car air filter

    By completing an automotive pathway, students may earn an industry credential and have the opportunity to apply for job shadowing and internship with local automotive businesses. Programs are available in Automotive Technology and Auto Body Technology.  These courses are taught by Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certified Instructors.

    The Automotive Technology program is a 3-year program focusing on mastery of each task for entry-level job skills. Students will complete an application and a pre-test before being admitted to Automotive Technology I. In this one-credit course, students learn all aspects of repair, safety, and customer service by concentrating on the four primary ASE certified areas: brakes, steering and suspension, electrical/electronics, and light-duty vehicle repair. The Automotive Technology II course would be next in the program.  Students will learn to repair cooling, brake, drive train, and suspension systems. Instruction is also given in adjusting and repairing individual components and systems such as radiators, transmission, and fuel injectors. Students will have the opportunity to apply for job shadowing and internships with local automotive businesses through the Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) program.  Automotive Technology III, is a more advanced course with required background in Automotive Technology II. In this two-credit course, students will continue to master skills related to suspension and steering, brakes, electrical/ electronic systems, and engine performance.

    The Auto Body Technology program is also a 3-year program focusing on mastery of each task for entry-level job skills as a priority. Students will complete a pre-test before being admitted to

    Auto Body Technology I, as required by NATEF. The first course is Auto body Technology I- Collision and Repair, a two-credit course.  Students are taught non-structural analysis, damage repair, and

    welding. Students will understand the construction of the body and frame. While working with various tools and materials, using metal finishing and body filling techniques to prepare surfaces and repair panels, students learn automotive history, practice shop safety, gain career skills, and use custom techniques.  Once students have required the background from the first course, then Auto Body Technology II- Painting and Refinishing course is next.  Students are taught to repair, mask, and refinish auto body components and entire vehicles in the four-credit course. In addition, they use spray guns and personal safety equipment, apply undercoats and topcoats. Students continue to improve their skills in welding and body repair.  The third course in this program is Auto Body Technology III- Collision and Repair and Painting and Refinishing.  

    Students further apply the tasks/competencies learned in Auto Body Technology I and II in this four-credit course. This course may also be used as a capstone course in which students may perfect their auto body skills and move toward employment in the industry. Students who complete this program sequence will be prepared to take and pass the respective ASE exam.

    Students may continue developing their knowledge through a secondary education program or an internship. Students may also have the opportunity to work right after high school in the automotive industry.

    If you would like more information about the automotive pathways, contact your school counselor for more information.

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  • Feature Friday: Geospatial Technology

    Posted by Emily Smith on 11/5/2021 11:00:00 AM

    Geospatial Technology:  A Career Mapping the Globe

    Are you a high school student with a passion for contributing to the geographic mapping and analysis of the Earth and human societies as a career?  Stafford County Public Schools (SCPS) has the perfect program for you to demonstrate those skills!

    student with maps

    Open to high school students starting in their junior year, Geospatial Technology introduces experiences leading into a Geospatial pathway. Students will study the use of geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing (RS), and mobile technologies. 

    Geospatial Technology is a two-year program, providing two credits.  While students study GIS, GPS, and RS, these technologies allow students to explore and analyze the natural and human-made world. Students use various tools, processes, and techniques to create, store, access, manipulate, and revise data to solve human challenges. These experiences employ real-world spatial analysis models and guidelines for integrating, interpreting, analyzing, and synthesizing data, focusing on such technologies’ implications and limitations. These experiences also include interfacing with network-based data management systems. Students will have the opportunity to earn Dual Enrollment credit through James Madison University while taking this program.

    Students may earn the CTECS Workplace Readiness Certification by completing the Geospatial Technology program. Students may be eligible to continue their geospatial training after completing high school through a post-secondary education program.  

    Contact your school counselor for more information if you are ready to begin mapping locally and globally with geospatial tools.

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  • PSAT: Unlock Your Potential

    Posted by Emily Smith on 10/7/2021 9:00:00 AM

    Unlock Your Potential Top Four Reasons You Should Rest and Do Your Best on the Upcoming Preliminary SAT at Every Grade Level

    Many students and families wonder why they are taking the PSAT and how the test will benefit students. The truth is, participating in the PSAT unlocks opportunities for non-college-bound and college-bound students alike - beginning in 8th grade. Completing the PSAT helps families and school counselors identify student strengths, such as science or math, and recommend programs such as STEM or STAT. Read on for the top 4 reasons students should rest and do their best on the upcoming PSAT test at every grade level.


    Top 4 Reasons CTE and Non-College Bound Students Should Take the PSATs

    1. Receive College/ Majors/Career Search using BigFuture: The online score report connects you to College/ Majors/ Career Search on BigFuture, another free service from College Board for PSAT test takers. BigFuture helps not only students, but also parents to create a detailed plan relating to finding and paying for college as well as exploring careers. It guides you through school to next steps, advises you on what to do when, and also helps you track your progress. It even provides an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator.

    2. Help students schedule the right courses!

    3. Score reports will pinpoint exactly what students need to work on to graduate from high school and be ready for careers and college. 

    4. Connect scores to Khan Academy (Khan Academy offers FREE practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace to work on strengthening student skills.)


    Top Reasons for Taking the PSAT 8/9 in 8th/9th Grade

    1. Establishes a baseline measurement for college and career readiness.

    2. Provides data to point out what courses students should do well in such as CGS, AP, IB, and DE potential when scheduling classes.

    3. Scores are connected directly to Khan Academy to provide students age 13 and over targeted learning plans that students can use to learn more about and practice the skills they need to improve.

    4. If your child needs testing accommodations, the student doesn't need official approval by the College Board in 8th and 9th grade. Score reports will pinpoint exactly what students need to work on to graduate from high school and be ready for careers and college.

    Top 4 Reasons for Taking the PSAT 10 in 10th grade

    1. The assessment scores identify academic strengths and weaknesses early in high school, when there's plenty of time to improve before career and college opportunities.

    2. It's a great way to practice for the PSAT/NMSQT in 11th grade, which qualifies them for the National Merit Scholarship Program and a chance to win recognition and money for college.

    3. When they take the PSAT 10, your child can opt in to Student Search Service and connect to over $300 million in scholarships. Learn more about scholarships.

    4. Create your career roadmap using Roadtrip Nation: Roadtrip Nation is free for all PSAT test takers. Here you can create your own career roadmap. 

    Top 4 Reasons for taking PSAT/NMSQT in 11th grade

    1. NMSQT is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test: US High School students enter the National Merit® Scholarship Program by taking the PSAT/NMSQT® (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). The test must be taken no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12.

    2. Good indicator of how the student needs to prepare for the SAT 

    3. Students can avail of the College Board’s Student Search Service: A great score on the PSAT can get you noticed by several colleges and scholarship boards. Avail of the College Board’s Student Search Service. It is free!

      The PSAT/NMSQT (11th grade) test takers are asked if they want to participate in the College Board’s Student Search Service. If a test taker opts in, the College Board shares limited information about the test taker with colleges and scholarship programs looking for such students. For PSAT/NMSQT test takers, this service provides information about educational and financial aid opportunities from close to 2000 colleges, universities, and scholarship programs

      Many colleges and universities use PSAT scores to identify students they think may make a good addition to their student body and who may be deserving of scholarships. Having schools express interest in you and connect with you can certainly boost your confidence.

    4. Receive AP, DE, and IB Potential feedback from the College Board. 
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  • Feature Friday: Firefighting Program

    Posted by Emily Smith on 10/1/2021 1:15:00 PM

    Firefighting:  A Career of Courage and Strength

    Are you a high school student with a passion to model courage and strength for your community as a future career?  Stafford County Public Schools (SCPS) has the perfect program for you to demonstrate those skills!


    Open to high school students starting in their junior or senior year, the Firefighting program introduces students to a first responder’s career path. Though held at the local fire station in Stafford, students at any SCPS high school may enroll in the program.

    Firefighting is a one-year program with Firefighting I taken the first semester and Firefighting II taken the following semester. These two courses must be taken consecutively in the same year, providing four credits. Students must be at least 16 years old by the first day of the course and have parental consent to participate.  Additionally, participating students must have the following required certifications: CPR, HAZMAT operations, and Mayday Awareness.   

    Firefighting requires complete discipline, physical endurance, and both academic and professional skill.  Participants will learn how to successfully fight live fires, address hazardous-materials incidents, and conduct search-and-rescue operations. The course provides students with the procedures, equipment, and technologies used by current fire departments. This course challenges students academically, mentally, and physically and meets the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, leading to the Firefighting I Certification. 

    Students may earn the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) leading to Firefighting I Certification by completing the Firefighting program. Students may be eligible to continue their firefighting training after completing this program and high school.  

    If you are up for the challenge and ready to demonstrate courage and strength, contact your school counselor for more information.

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Last Modified on November 14, 2022