Magazine article Techniques

Building Robust Community Partnerships

Magazine article Techniques

Building Robust Community Partnerships

Article excerpt

The Antelope Valley Union High School District (AVUHSD), located in the Los Angeles. Bakersfield, and San Bernardino metro areas, receives students from eight area K-8 districts. AVUHSD is home to seven career academics with themes ranging from digital design and engineering to law and government, each of which integrates core content with project-based learning. It serves more than 20,000 students of highly diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, many of whom are English learners and students with disabilities. Despite these challenges, the district promotes high standards for student achievement in college and career readiness.

Along with its single-district Regional Occupational Program (ROP), AVUHSD offers more than 75 CTE courses (some online) in 10 industry sectors and 16 career pathways at eight comprehensive high schools, one early-college high school, and two continuation high school campuses throughout the Antelope Valley (AV). Approximately 7,000 students accessed one or more CTE courses over the last three years. A number of the courses are approved by the University of California to meet "a-g" admissions requirements, and over 35 are articulated with community colleges. These programs maintain close connections with local industry through annual advisory committee meetings that cover labor-market and technical trends in their sector.

AVUHSD began its century-long commitment to vocational programs with agriculture and trades courses that fueled local businesses' needs for skilled workers. Thanks to blossoming high-tech innovation, spurred on by Edwards AFB, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, NASA, Virgin Galactic, and solar and windmill energy installations, among others, the courses have transitioned to modern CTE sequences.

Filling the Gap

Beginning in the line 1980s, a group of AV health care professionals saw a gap widening in their labor-market sector. Consequently, they met with AVUHSD/ROP administrators to see how they might target more intensive preparation, including clinical rotations, to feed a pipeline of future workers. The district's first school-within-a-school (Medical Magnet), now. Health Careers Academy, at Palmdale High School arose out of those efforts.

Continuing that partnership spirit, a larger group of local businesses, civilian leaders from Edwards AFB, and Palmdale and Lancaster city and Los Angeles county government leaders met in 1989 to discuss how to best work with schools to successfully transition students into other areas of the regional workforce. Out of this conversation they formed the AV Career Prep Council (CPC) and recommended hiring a school-to-careers coordinator for the high school district, initially contributing a part of her salary. Twenty-three years later, the CPC continues to provide input to the local school districts on labor-market trends, recommends pathways based on regional workforce needs, provides access to business members working with individual programs and classes, and works with educators to create a bridge from school to careers, including work-ethic and career-prepared-ness standards and activities for K-12 students. While most of the individuals' names have changed, many of the same entities remain a part of the CPC today.

That same year (1989), in order to enhance curricula with enrichment activities, the CPC cosponsored the first Salute to Youth: Career Connection event for high school students to discover firsthand regional work opportunities. Local employers and post-secondary institutions offered hands-on exhibits to engage and inspire students and teachers. At its inception, Salute to Youth focused on careers not requiring a college degree. Over the years the emphasis has evolved to show the necessity of post-secondary preparation for success in all career paths. This Golden Bell Award-winning event celebrated its 20th anniversary in September 2011, having given career information and hosted activities to an estimated 40,000+ high school and nearly 1,000 middle school students. …

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