THE BRONX - A program aimed at helping at-risk students in the Bronx and city is set to graduate its 5,000th student this month.

When Samantha Gonzalez transferred from a Catholic school to public school, her education got sidetracked. She was cutting classes and missing school for months at a time. Then, the 17-year-old got involved in the ?Learning to Work? program held at a number of sites citywide.

The program offers students like Gonzalez a combination of traditional academic teaching and job training, including paid internships. And it?s earning praise from city leaders.

?Chancellor Klein and his team at the Department of Education have done a superb job of offering thousands of these young people new opportunities and new hope,? said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at a press conference touting the 2-year-old program.

The program focuses on providing small, individualized learning environments. At Columbus High School, each counselor works with 100 students.

Gonzalez is on track to graduate early and has landed an internship at Jacobi Medical Center.

To be eligible for the program, students must be enrolled in one of the city?s GED programs, Young Adult Borough Centers or transfer from high schools partnered with ?Learning to Work.?

To see full coverage of the press conference on graduation from Innovative Career Development Program, go to channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra. - Related information:NYC Department of Education: Learning to Work Program