Program Overview



ISP sees a high-quality education as a fundamental right of every child. ISP believes all children deserve respect, encouragement, and opportunities for learning. These key components of the Independent Studies Program provide a rigorous foundation for students, allowing them to gain knowledge, link skills, and develop successful attitudes. ISP provides, as its cornerstone achievement, successful well-rounded students, who are prepared to meet the challenges of higher education, explore career interests and succeed as responsible and engaged global citizens.


Terry Young, Head of House, Independent Studies Program

Michelle Hunsicker-Blair, Senior Project Coordinator


ISP Certificate Requirements

Earning an ISP certificate demonstrates that students have gone above and beyond the basic graduation requirements to pursue a rigorous, focused plan of study.  All ISP students are encouraged to take Honors or AP classes, as appropriate. Students have opportunities to explore college and career pathways and to seek learning experiences outside of the classroom by participating in educational field trips and leadership opportunities. In consultation with their counselors, students decide on a plan of study in one of the ISP Areas of Focus (see below), to be completed by the end of their senior year.

The ISP Senior Portfolio records and provides evidence of the following requirements:

  • 4.0+ credits in a focus area of choice.
  • Portfolio - An in-depth exploration of career interest and foundational documentation of the learning experience.
  • Field Experience Hours—Students will complete at least 50-75 hours of work (paid or volunteer) committed to exploring or providing service in the chosen career pathway and produce a reflection on the work completed. Depending on the experience, student service learning hours could be earned toward those required for graduation.

  • Senior Portfolio Presentation before a review committee - Culminating presentations must be executed at a sophisticated level in order for students to attain the ISP Certification.



Project Lead the Way

Students enrolled in Project Lead the Way must submit the following items in order to receive an ISP Certificate:

  • Engineering Journal
  • Engineering Project
  • Project Presentation
  • Project Reflection
  • All materials will be submitted for both the PLTW certificate and ISP certificate

Internship Capstone Class

Students enrolled in the Internship Capstone Class must submit the following items in order to receive an ISP Certificate:

  • Complete 50-75 hours of work certified by your site supervisor
  • Complete the Capstone reflections as part of your coursework
  • Submit and present portions of the Capstone project and reflections during the Senior Symposium

Summer Work or Internships

Students enrolled in one of the following (Summer Work or Internships, Paid Employment, SSL or Volunteer Work, or Community Service Project) must submit the following items in order to receive an ISP Certificate:

  • 50-75 hours of paid or volunteer work in the same organization
  • Prepare a portfolio that includes
    • Resume
    • 4-course connection reflections
    • A detailed description of the organization and their mission
    • Reflection of the work completed
    • Future plans 
  • Poster and presentation for the Senior Symposium

Paid Employment

SSL or Volunteer Work

Community Service Project


Mission Statement

The mission of the Independent Studies Program is to challenge local Poolesville students to create a rigorous, focused course of study based on their key interests within the program’s framework. The in-depth study available through participating in the ISP program allows students to concentrate their studies in the area of their greatest interests, further preparing these young people for success with higher education and careers.

The Independent Studies Program philosophy insures that:

  • All students have a rich academic experience they would not have at any other MCPS school
  • All students have access to pathways focused in: Project Lead the Way, Internship Capstone Class, Summer Work or Internships. Paid Emplyement, SSL or Volunteer Work, Community Service Project.
  • All students recognize the unique opportunities and experiences in which they, as PHS students, participate.