Project Compass helps guide high schoolers to successful careers
In the fall of 2015, a group of Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) employees in Findlay, Ohio, began a mentoring program to guide sophomore students identified by Findlay High School (FHS) as needing a little extra help to get them on a path toward success.
As a compass provides direction, the effort was named Project Compass, and the team was headed by MPC’s Bonnie Loch. Mentors met with students once a month throughout the school year, ultimately providing guidance on resumes, touring MPC facilities, discussing interviewing skills, and exposing students to different career opportunities – all in the effort to help them make good decisions about their future.
“We didn’t know what to expect, and we learned a lot,” admits Loch. “It takes time to build trust. We quickly learned that our engagement was stronger when the sessions were interactive.”
So was it successful? Findlay High School administrators indicate that they saw several positive changes in student behavior and academic performance. One example is a student with a passion for welding who is being given assistance with that career field. He is now making more positive choices and is on track to graduate early.
MPC emphasized the importance of school attendance all year long, offering monthly drawings of Speedway gift cards for students with good attendance. Three students ended the year with no unexcused absences and were surprised with brand new iPads at an end-of-school-year celebration held at the Hancock County Historical Society.
Loch notes that her team members will stay with this group of students all the way until graduation, offering more individualized guidance in the next two years. In the fall, another set of 25 sophomores will be identified by the school administration, and Business Development’s Beth Lewandowski will take the lead role, assisted by 29 employee volunteers.