IT Certification Available At Polo Park

Students at Polo Park Middle School in Wellington have the opportunity to graduate eighth grade with two industry certifications, high school credit and even college credit through the information technology academy available at the school.

The choice program includes curriculum to prepare for the CIW Site Development Associate certification exam in seventh grade and the CIW Internet Business Associate certification in eighth grade.

“These students have had access to the Internet their entire lives, but never really learned how the networking works,” said Kathryn Gilbert, a teacher in the academy.

She said that students are both eager to learn, but also gaining experience in the IT field, which continues to be one of the fastest-growing industries.

“[Students] see so much tech in their lives that they want to start touching tech themselves,” said Craig Corsentino, choice coordinator at the school.

The seventh-grade course teaches web design through coding labs where students don’t get shortcuts.

They are learning HTML, CSS and GUI, and if they don’t know what that is, they are learning the lingo as well.

In eighth grade, students learn the business side of IT and about the careers available to them.

Those jobs, with the certifications offered at Polo Park, have a median salary of $65,000 to $75,000 nationally.

The CIW exams are offered to the students at no cost.

Gilbert said that her students have a 90 percent pass rate on the certification exams.

She said that students who have been through the program reach back out to her to tell her that the skills they learned in the academy helped them both in high school and in building their resume, which they also learned how to do in the program.

Currently, 250 students are in the IT academy at Polo Park.

“We have students from as far north as Jupiter and as far south as Boca,” Corsentino said. “We don’t have a problem filling seats.”

Gilbert noted that currently the program is “boy heavy,” but she has seen how successful girls can be in the program and hopes that more girls will learn about the program and the industry.