Making a Difference, One Student at a Time

For Immediate Release:
January 16, 2008

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

MIDDLETOWN and WARRENTON, Va. – Marie Rutz always has an open door, a bowl of chocolates and a listening ear for any student at James Wood High School who wants to talk about their future. As a Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) career coach, Rutz spends three days a week at James Wood High School helping students prepare for life after high school and easing the transition into postsecondary education. “The desire to make a difference in students’ lives inspires me to come to work every day.”

As a career coach, Rutz assists students in developing career plans, serves as a liaison to LFCC and other institutions, connects students with business and industry and critiques student résumés. "I do my best to encourage students in whatever career field they believe is right for them," said Rutz, a Winchester resident. "I believe that it is a matter of taking the students’ dreams and assisting them in developing their dreams into promising careers."

To further assist students with their career plans, Rutz began an initiative to organize a career fair at James Wood with help from colleagues and administrators at James Wood and LFCC. In planning for the event, Rutz surveyed juniors and seniors, and more than 600 of them provided responses about what career fields most interest them. Based on their responses, Rutz enlisted the service of LFCC professors and business and industry representatives to participate in the career fair, which will be held on Feb. 6 from 8 to 11 a.m. at James Wood.

Juniors and seniors participating in the event will be able to attend three sessions of their choosing. The sessions include automotives, business, education, engineering, information technology, law enforcement, nursing, physical therapy and veterinary science. In addition, all students will attend a résumé and job interview workshop and a college readiness session.

"An undertaking of this magnitude takes teamwork, and I am grateful for the assistance that everyone at James Wood and LFCC has provided," Rutz said. "It is rewarding to know that I have shared a little part in helping a student reach his or her goals."

In addition to Rutz, LFCC recently added Becky Barr to its staff as a career coach. Barr splits her time between Skyline and Warren County high schools. Barr, a Front Royal resident with 20 years of counseling experience, is a retired guidance counselor from Fairfax County Public Schools. Most recently, she worked as a substitute teacher and counselor for Warren County Public Schools.

The career coach initiative is a partnership between the Virginia Community College System and the Virginia Department of Education. If Gov. Timothy Kaine’s biennial budget is approved in the General Assembly, additional funds totaling $3.7 million will be given to the career coach and middle college programs.

"In my budget, I have also included funding to support initiatives that will continue to increase the number of Virginia high school graduates who go on to achieve postsecondary degrees," said Kaine, according to a transcript of his remarks at a recent meeting published on his office’s Web site — "These initiatives include funding for virtual advance placement courses, as well as support for the career coaches and middle college programs."

The ultimate goal of the career coach program is to increase the number of high school graduates who pursue postsecondary education and training and apprenticeship programs. Over the past three years, the program has grown to 85 career coaches who work in 110 high schools across Virginia. Last year, career coaches served more than 50,000 students.

In addition to state funding, the Lord Fairfax Community College Educational Foundation Inc. is raising money for a career coach position at the Middletown Campus who will serve one to two high schools in the College’s service region. With an investment of $30,000, another career coach could be hired to help increase the number of students pursuing academic degrees and/or certifications and, ultimately, the number of students graduating from LFCC. For more information about this investment opportunity, interested individuals may visit the Foundation’s Web site at


Founded in 1970, Lord Fairfax Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. LFCC offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. LFCC also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. LFCC serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Lord Fairfax Community College. Lord Fairfax Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. LFCC also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.