Union Bank has opened an actual working branch on the campus of Loara High School in Anaheim. By all accounts, this represents a highly unique partnership that’s dispensing both lessons on financial literacy as well as bankable job training for Loara students.
We could probably deposit a few more bank puns into this post, but we think you should just check out the video, courtesy of our top-notch Media Services team.
Is there something cool happening at your school that you’d like to see featured on the OCDE Newsroom? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kirstie Suarez’s family moved several times when she was in high school, bouncing between California, North Carolina and Florida before Suarez took her final classes at Saddleback High School in Santa Ana.
Somewhere along the way, she fell two classes short of graduating.
Five years later, Suarez has made up that ground, and rather quickly, thanks to the College and Career Preparatory Academy, a brand new charter school approved by the Orange County Board of Education to assist young adults in need of a diploma or a path to higher learning.
“I work fulltime, so I don’t have a lot of time to be taking extra classes,” said Suarez, 23. “I walked in that first day and they immediately gave me assignments.”
Administered by the Orange County Department of Education, the College and Career Preparatory Academy represents a first of its kind for the county. It’s designed to fill gaps in services currently available to young men and women who are 18 to 25 years old and have aged out of the school system but still need to complete their graduation requirements.
Data shows more than 100,000 match this profile in Orange County alone. Despite an 85.3 percent graduation rate, more than 4,000 local students leave high school each year without their diplomas.
The College and Career Preparatory Academy offers them a way back, providing much needed flexibility to pursue lost credits at no cost. But it isn’t just about finishing high school. The academy also prepares students for college and career success, says Director Byron Fairchild.
“This program supports re-engagement in learning and workforce preparation,” Fairchild says. “It’s about expanding options within our county and strengthening the bridge connecting K-12 education, adult education and higher education to prepare students for productive workforce and career opportunities.”
The College and Career Preparatory Academy began operations in the fall, welcoming its first students on Sept. 9 from a single storefront building in Santa Ana. Word of mouth has since swelled enrollment to about 100 with two additional sites — one in Anaheim and a second Santa Ana location — but school leaders have much bigger ambitions. Additional locations are planned for the west, central and south regions of the county, and Fairchild says the school is capable of serving up to 1,200 students.
Teacher Dinah Ismail has been with the academy from the beginning. She says what’s most unique about the program is that it’s highly customizable to fit the busy lives of its students.
“These are often full-time parents, students who work full time, students who work graveyard shifts, so the flexibility of this program is something they’re very grateful for,” she said.
Most who enroll study at home with the help of an online learning tool called GradPoint, a product offered by Pearson Education. They then visit the academy for an hour or more a week for additional support and tutelage. Those who don’t have a computer can work from textbooks, and some have the option of checking out a laptop. Ismail said mobile hotspots will soon be added to the menu of available technologies for students without reliable Internet connections.
Suarez, who works full time for a local public agency, said she was able to complete two courses in about a month.
“The flexibility, that was my main concern,” she said. “I was able to take classes online after work and during lunch. I was very focused.”
Ismail says it’s all about customizing instruction to meet the needs of each student. If that means talking over the phone or exchanging text messages to explain specific lessons, so be it.
“It’s amazing. I’ve been in education in one way or another for 20 years, teaching for 13, but this is my favorite assignment because my students are at such a pivotal and awesome age in their lives,” Ismail said. “They’re coming back and figuring out what they want to do with their careers and their lives and their educational paths. I feel very lucky to be a part of that process and to help navigate that path with them.”
Data would indicate students who go back to get their diplomas are making a very wise decision. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average high school dropout earns $20,241 dollars annually, or $10,386 less than a high school graduate. (That’s about $36,424 less than a college graduate per year.) Fairchild and his team are acutely aware of these numbers.
“This charter is unique to our county in specifically targeting this out-of-school youth population in an attempt to reduce the number of young adults without a high school diploma,” Fairchild said. “The pairing of education, job readiness and workforce preparation is the key combination to motivate and guide students through the process of earning a high school diploma and pursuing a college and career pathway.”
The doors are open. Now it’s just about getting the word out.
“A lot of the students are telling their friends, neighbors and family because they know other people who are in similar situations,” Ismail said. “There are probably a lot of other students in the county who could benefit from this but don’t know about it.”
For more information about the College and Career Preparatory Academy, including enrollment options, call Sandra Quintanilla at 714-245-6417.
It’s that time again. Here’s a week’s worth of local education stories you might have missed.
California’s teacher shortage is likely to worsen, according to a new report that calls for “purposeful steps” to reverse the trend.
The integration of hands-on career technical training with standards-based academics is becoming increasingly prevalent in California’s high schools thanks to a sizable investment by the state in programs like Orange County’s own OC Pathways.
The Orange Unified School District has conducted a feasibility study to determine whether a bond measure to replace aging facilities can win voter approval.
In October, we read an intriguing story about an ambitious project over at Marina High School, home of the Vikings.
Students at the Huntington Beach campus, led by their enterprising wood shop teacher Bob Meade, were building a full-scale Viking ship — and planning to launch it in Huntington Harbour.
Naturally we had to check the thing out for ourselves.
The video above was edited by our own Greg Lammers, who was joined on the shoot by fellow OCDE Media Services team member Richard Rodriguez. Lammers, a Marina High graduate, pitched the assignment and plans to return for the ship’s maiden voyage in May.
Will the vessel prove itself seaworthy? We’ll find out this spring.
Is your school working on a cool project that you’d like to see featured on the OCDE Newsroom? Drop us an email at email@example.com.
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District is among those reminding parents of new immunization requirements that take effect on Jan. 1. Specifically, Senate Bill 277 says parents of students who attend public or private schools can no longer refuse to vaccinate their children based on personal belief exemptions.
A student from Irvine’s University High School has earned the unique honor of having a photograph she took displayed in Vice President Joe Biden’s home.
From the Desk of Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County Superintendent of Schools
On a cool December morning, in a historic airplane hangar at the Orange County Great Park, some of the region’s top educators and business leaders gathered for a very special birthday party.
OC Pathways, an initiative that brings together schools, colleges and businesses to create new career paths in targeted industry sectors, was celebrating its first year — and what a year it’s been.
Over the past 12 months, more than 8,600 high school students have enrolled in OC Pathways programs, receiving career preparation in the fields of health care, biotechnology, engineering, advanced manufacturing, information technology and digital media. In our community colleges, more than 12,500 students have participated in OC Pathways coursework, earning roughly 600 certificates and 85 degrees.
Led by the Orange County Department of Education and Saddleback College, OC Pathways was launched in 2014 through a California Department of Education grant. Along with its efforts to partner schools and colleges with industry leaders, the project creates work-based learning opportunities for students — these include internships and mentorship — and empowers educators with innovative teaching strategies.
In just the first year of this initiative, more than 2,500 students participated in one or more work-based learning experiences, and we have seen a 13 percent increase in the number of articulation agreements that allow high school students to receive community college credit for taking career technical education courses.
Moreover, OC Pathways has established 53 additional businesses partnerships that will help strengthen the 21st-century workforce.
On Dec. 2, the leaders of many of these businesses were among the 300 or so who gathered in the Great Park’s Hangar 244 for a morning showcase that featured incredible displays from local schools, colleges and businesses, as well as video profiles of students who are on successful career tracks thanks to OC Pathways.
NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, who made two trips aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, was riveting as our keynote speaker at the end. I was also honored to say a few words, joining Saddleback College President Dr. Tod A. Burnett, OC STEM Executive Director Dr. Linda Christopher, Orange County United Way president and CEO Max Gardner, and four very impressive high school and college students.
Thanks to the unparalleled levels of collaboration between Orange County’s secondary and postsecondary partners, OC Pathways has already racked up more achievements than can be listed in this column, and we’re just getting started.
Just think of what can be accomplished in year two.
You can learn more about OC Pathways’ efforts to promote college and career success by visiting the OC Pathways website. To find out how you can get involved, click here.
Leland Melvin’s pathway to a career as a NASA astronaut took a highly unusual detour through the National Football League. But first came a high school football game with a college scholarship at stake.
With his team down late, Melvin couldn’t hold on to a potential touchdown pass in front of a homecoming crowd and a University of Richmond scout. But the story doesn’t end there. His coach responded by calling the same play again. Melvin caught the second ball, securing a victory and the Richmond scholarship.
“For the students in here, that is the message to you,” he told a rapt audience on Wednesday morning. “We have all failed at something. We all still fail at things. It’s not that you fail, it’s that you keep going.”
Melvin, who voyaged to the International Space Station in 2008 and 2009, was the keynote speaker at the inaugural OC Pathways Showcase, held in Hangar 244 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. The event, featuring innovative displays from local schools, colleges and businesses, drew about 300 educators and industry leaders to celebrate the college and career partnerships established during the first year of OC Pathways.
As we’ve previously mentioned here, OC Pathways is an initiative that brings together schools and businesses to create sequenced coursework that combines rigorous academics with career preparation. It also offers work-based learning opportunities for students and empowers educators with 21st-century learning strategies. Led by OCDE and Saddleback College, the program was established in 2014 through a grant from the California Department of Education.
In just a year, more than 8,600 local high school students have participated in OC Pathways programs across six industry sectors, which include health care, biotechnology, engineering, advanced manufacturing, information technology and digital media. At the community college level, more than 12,500 students have enrolled in OC Pathways courses, earning more than 600 certificates and 85 degrees. (You can read more achievements here.)
“I believe that we can attribute these initial accomplishments, and the great accomplishments ahead, to the unparalleled levels of collaboration between Orange County secondary and postsecondary partners that have been forged by OC Pathways,” Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares said at Wednesday’s Showcase.
The program has only been in existence for a year, he added, “but it has set very high goals.”
Saddleback College President Dr. Tod A. Burnett also delivered remarks, as did OC STEM Executive Director Dr. Linda Christopher and Max Gardner, president and CEO of the Orange County United Way.
And of course there was Melvin, who spoke about his own personal pathway, which led from Lynchburg, Virginia to the NFL — he had brief stints with the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys — to the Space Shuttle Atlantis, which twice transported him to the final frontier and back.
Not many can boast professional football and space travel on their resumes. But long before he did either he was simply a curious kid helping his dad convert a bread truck into a family camper — and learning important lessons about what is possible.
Melvin said it wasn’t until he and his father rewired the vehicle, installed bunk beds and painted the exterior that he could envision the truck as a serviceable motorhome.
“How many times do your students not see past what’s right in front of them?” Melvin said. “They don’t have the vision to see that next step or that next career, and so it’s important that this community ensures that we pull back the blinds and let them see that these things that they are doing right now can lead to a career in your company or your organization.”
The high school and college students in attendance appeared ready to launch their careers right away. Many displayed their technical achievements in STEM fields, lining the hangar with impressive exhibits, including handmade aerial drones and experiments that use data from real satellites.
Toward the end of the showcase, four students took the stage to field questions about their career paths from Dr. Mijares and Dr. Burnett, including Dana Hills High senior Stephen Tedena and Saddleback College student Leah Jamison, whose stories are documented in brief videos here and here; and Century High senior Rosa Yanes and Saddleback High senior Denise Garcia, who participated in an exclusive summer internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
We’d encourage you to check out these videos to see how OC Pathways is specifically impacting local students. And you can learn more about the initiative by visiting the OC Pathways website.
A limited number of seats are still available for an upcoming showcase to celebrate the first year of OC Pathways, an initiative that’s paving the way to college and career success and strengthening the 21st-century workforce.
Open to educators and industry leaders, the inaugural OC Pathways Showcase on Dec. 2 will feature innovative displays from local schools, colleges and businesses, as well as a keynote address from NASA astronaut Leland Melvin. “Equipping Students for the Global Innovation Economy” is the theme of the event, which will be held from 7:30 to 10 a.m. inside Hangar 244 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.
Additional speakers are set to include Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares, Saddleback College President Dr. Tod A. Burnett, OC STEM Executive Director Dr. Linda Christopher, and Max Gardner, president and CEO of the Orange County United Way.
Led by OCDE and Saddleback College, OC Pathways was initiated through a 2014 grant from the California Department of Education. The project connects educators with industry partners to align coursework so that it combines rigorous academics with career preparation. OC Pathways also creates work-based learning opportunities for students and empowers educators with 21st-century learning strategies.
If you’d like to attend the showcase, click here, or on the graphic above. If you wish to learn more about OC Pathways, visit www.OCPathways.com.
From the Desk of Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County Superintendent of Schools
With new technologies emerging at an unprecedented rate, it should come as no surprise that computer science jobs are surging. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 there will be a million more computer science positions than graduates qualified to fill them.
At the same time, a recent Gallup report commissioned by Google suggests that educational opportunities in this field have been inconsistent, and entrenched stereotypes might be discouraging girls and some minority groups from participating.
So what can be done at the local level? We can start by raising awareness and promoting engaging learning experiences like Hour of Code.
For those who haven’t heard of this campaign, the Hour of Code offers a global introduction to computer science with one simple call to action: It asks every single student and as many adults as possible to write code for one hour during the week of Dec. 7.
Code is the backend text that programmers write to tell computers what to do. Writing code may sound intimidating, but it isn’t as daunting or arcane as many believe — and that’s really the point. The Hour of Code website offers self-guided activities and features tutorials, a how-to guide and options for all levels of experience and age, from kindergarten and up.
“The Hour of Code is designed to demystify code and show that computer science is not rocket science, anybody can learn the basics,” says Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org. “Over 100 million students worldwide have tried an Hour of Code. The demand for relevant 21st-century computer science education crosses all borders and knows no boundaries.”
Sure enough, computer science isn’t just for those who will pursue computing jobs; it serves as a foundation for college and career readiness by promoting problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. That is why I’m eager to personally take part by writing my first line of code in December, and I would encourage teachers, students, administrators, parents and support staff throughout Orange County to do the same.
Last year, Apple Stores around the world hosted an Hour of Code event, and many districts and schools participated locally. This year the Orange County Department of Education is pursuing even greater numbers to contribute to the largest learning event in history. You can help by participating, spreading the word, hosting an hour of coding or encouraging your local school to sign up.
By demonstrating that anyone can learn the basics of computer science, we open doors and shatter barriers. More important, we empower students to write their own codes and scripts for college and career readiness and success.
If you’d like more information on how to get involved with the Hour of Code campaign at the local level, contact OCDE Instructional Services Coordinator Alisa McCord at firstname.lastname@example.org or 714-327-1063.