Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Education

Guidmii helps high school students point toward the future

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Like most freshman, Abagail Meler, 14, had a lot to learn when she made the leap to East Bay High School.

She had to navigate new hallways, adjust to new teachers and make new friends.

But, thanks to a computer program called Guidmii, Meler possesses a better grip on some other aspects of high school. Guidmii, an academic planning tool, helps the teen stay on top of her grade point average, credits earned and the requirements she needs to graduate.

She uses her computer to log onto Guidmii (it's pronounced guide me).

Her login is the same one she uses to access Edsby, which lists students' grades and assignments.

"I really like it," said Abagail, who lives in Gibsonton. "It's really helpful."

Ansberto Vallejo, supervisor of guidance services for the Hillsborough County School District, said Guidmii isn't replacing counselors but instead gives students another avenue to keep track of their records. Vallejo said it's a great tool because there is only one counselor for about every 550 students in the district.

Vallejo said students who take advantage of Guidmii are able to have meaningful discussions with counselors rather than spending some of that valuable time asking basic questions such as their current GPA.

Guidmii is a free program that is available to middle and high school students in Hillsborough County. In addition to keeping track of GPA and credits, students can keep tabs on their community service hours, access ACT and SAT information and visit its College Hub.

The district started offering Guidmii in 2014. About 35,000 students have signed up for the program.

Through the district's $216,603 contract with Lighthouse Guidance Systems, students have access to the program for three years.

William Farragut, a product of Sickles High School and the University of South Florida, is the man behind Guidmii. He developed the idea a few years ago after trying to help a student apply to college.

A woman at church told Farragut her son wanted to go to college. She was a single parent and needed help with the application process.

The teen, described by Farragut as a good kid, had the necessary credits to graduate high school but ultimately did not have the required GPA to attend. The young man joined the military.

Farragut said the teenager would have benefited from more help planning his high school road map and course selection. For example, he should have taken core courses rather than some electives to boost his GPA.

Troubled by the experience with the teen, Farragut went to work. He thought about how he might help others avoid that pitfall.

"I kept saying, what would have helped me help him?"

Farragut, 33, who lives in Wesley Chapel, had worked in the business world with Verizon and had some information technology knowledge, began tinkering on paper and his computer.

Farragut got help on the issues he couldn't do alone and by 2012 was testing the program at Sickles High and Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, a charter school, both in Tampa. His first paid contract was with the Pinellas County School District. Hillsborough soon followed.

"It started as a concept," Farragut said. "It's been a real labor of love."

Farragut said he is working on an update, which he hopes to launch this spring. Hillsborough and Pinellas will receive the updates.

"I think there's nothing out there like it," he said. "I'd like to obviously expand outside the bay area and then let God run with it."

The Melers are thankful for Guidmii.

Abagail often taps into the program to stay on track. Her mom, Carrie Meler, is happy it is available and thrilled her daughter is taking advantage of it.

"Any help she can get is wonderful," Meler said.

To learn more about Guidmii, visit guidmii.com.

Contact Monica Bennett at [email protected]

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