Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk urged members of Portland’s business community Wednesday to get involved in the schools by mentoring students, providing internships or volunteering at schools.

“I believe every one of us is responsible for student success,” Caulk told several hundred people at the Portland Regional Chamber’s Eggs & Issues breakfast at the Holiday Inn by the Bay.

He said Portland’s school district has a goal of having every high school student complete at least one internship or job-shadow experience before graduation. “It allows students to see the connection between their current academic work and their future careers,” he said.

In the two years since Caulk was named superintendent, the school district has begun several initiatives that are business-related and in line with the local and state goal of all high school graduates being “college and career ready.”

Among the initiatives, Caulk said, are the “principal for a day” program, with a business leader assigned to a school for a day; a partnership with Unum to “adopt” Presumpscot Elementary School and have employees come in to read to students and donate books; and a new program to link mentors to 11th-grade students who are the first in their families who are expected to go to college.

“I invite you – I implore you – to change the world … by investing in our students,” Caulk said.

Portland has 7,000 students, 1,200 employees and a $101.6 million annual budget.

Caulk also outlined academic programs intended to give students a global perspective for the future job market, including offering Mandarin and Arabic instruction, “maker space” at one of the high schools that will include a 3-D printer, capstone projects for students doing in-depth projects, and a Spanish immersion program beginning in the fall at Lyseth Elementary School.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]