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Norwin

Norwin signs on with academic networking service

A sparkling resume that showcases a student’s grades, test scores, extracurricular activities and community service might not always be enough to catch the eye of college or company recruiters. So Norwin officials hope a new service will give students that little something extra to catch a recruiter’s eye.

Norwin has become the first school district in the state to participate in a program offered by South Carolina-based STEM Premier, which helps students create an online profile that can be viewed by prospective colleges, universities and employers, according to Superintendent William Kerr.

Kerr said the service is like a baseball card for students to showcase their “stats” and areas of interest. The three-year deal with STEM Premier is being offered free to the district and students.

“It’s built on the concept of what athletes do to showcase their various skills,” Kerr told the board of education during the Oct. 20 meeting at which the agreement with STEM Premier was approved. “Now that concept is being extended to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or any other students.”

The company is providing free memberships to Norwin’s 1,590 students, beginning with seniors, juniors, and sophomores during the first semester and freshmen in the second semester. Students can maintain their online profiles until they are 24 years old.

Students aren’t required to participate.

In addition to college and corporate recruiters, students will be able to use the service to learn out about scholarships and internships.

Though the service — which describes itself as a matchmaker for students and colleges or employers — focuses on showcasing students with an interest and aptitude for STEM subjects, it is open to all students, the superintendent said.

Kerr has been leading efforts to establish a STEM center on the district’s North Huntingdon campus to help shift the focus of education to meet the demands of employers.

Before the board approved the agreement with STEM Premier, school Director Dennis Rittenhouse sought — and received — assurances that the company won’t charge students a fee in subsequent years in which they participate.

Donald Tylinski described the service as “a way for students to connect and grow.”

“Kids need it, and parents love it,” he said. “It keeps the organization of a student’s career in line. Also, when a college or corporation shows an interest in a student, it can provide affirmation and encouragement for students to persevere in doing well academically.”

The company was launched two years ago and now provides services primarily to students in South Carolina, Indiana, Nevada and Texas, Tylinski said.

He described the service as a closed social media network that maintains the integrity and security of student profiles by limiting communication with the system to subscribers.

Tylinski said local employers looking to hire people from the area could benefit by using the service.

“A North Huntingdon or Irwin-based business could follow the progress of a Norwin graduate and offer them a job upon completion of college or trade school,” Tylinski said.

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer.


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