By Ben Churchill Superintendent Carlsbad Unified School District
In our baffling world of technological advances, globalization of employment markets, and specialization of workplace skills, it is evermore challenging to adequately prepare students for their future careers. Schools need to teach students the skills they will need to succeed in real workplaces in order to produce the leaders, scientists, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
Carlsbad Unified is part of the San Diego Career Pathways Trust grant, which recognizes that the participation of the business community is vital in informing this real-world learning. In order to build true partnerships with business communities, the grant’s collaborative, the San Diego County College and Career Readiness Consortium, is rolling out its Workplace Learning ePortal (sdeportal.org.)
The Consortium is recruiting business and industry leaders to partner with schools to provide students with the workplace learning experiences they need. The ePortal was designed to be an easy way for employer and community partners to work directly with schools and educators to:
•Become guest speakers,
•Host company tours,
•Provide job-shadowing experiences,
•Host student interns at work sites,
•Help teachers design relevant projects,
•Assess student work, and
•Create an innovative partnership between school and business.
Here’s an example of an innovative partnership. For the last five years ViaSat has collaborated with the Carlsbad Educational Foundation (CEF) to run the after-school Science Olympiad program for Carlsbad Unified students. Students meet weekly with their coaches/mentors at ViaSat to prepare to compete in events such as Experimental Design, Meteorology, Bottle Rockets, Invasive Species, Hydrogeology, Forensics, Electric Vehicles, and Astronomy. In all, Science Olympiad offers competition in 23 events for middle school students and 20 events for high school students.
This year 41 coaches, mostly ViaSat employees, volunteered 50 hours or more of their time to work with 242 middle and high school students from Carlsbad Unified schools. In March, ViaSat held an awards ceremony at its Carlsbad campus to recognize the Science Olympiad students and their coaches.
“Students are gaining hands-on experience in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) areas,” said Calaveras Hills Middle School teacher Aaron Sottile. “They are practicing teamwork and creating products, and they often develop an interest in pursuing a career in a STEM-related field.”
“We appreciate the investment that ViaSat and its employees have made in our students,” said CEF’s Michelle Ginn. “This model program shows our students the connection between what they are learning in the classroom and how that knowledge is applied in real careers.”
Carlsbad Unified invites businesses, nonprofits, and the community to become part of a partnership with schools by signing onto the Workplace Learning ePortal.
Check it out at sdeportal.org.