Hayward schools prepare students for careers
Posted by SFGate.com

A traditional education is as important as always — but these days, employers are looking for something more. And Hayward schools are making sure their students have those extra skills.

Living in the future

With a growing focus on STEM education — science, technology, engineering and math — local high schools are working hard to bring cutting edge technology into classrooms.

That’s why Hayward Unified School District has implemented new career pathways programs at its high schools. The Biomedical Pathway was implemented for the 2015-16 school year at Hayward and Tennyson high schools, Advanced Manufacturing is set to kick off this year, and an Engineering Pathway is scheduled to begin in the 2017-18 school year.

The programs place students in a four-year cohort that takes math, science and technology classes together, depending on the concentration. Each program meets the requirements to attend any of the state’s universities.

“They can go to a CSU or a UC right after high school … or they can go to a community college. Or they can start a career right after high school,” said Veronica Ortiz, the district’s college and career readiness coordinator.

The students also have the opportunity to experiment with cutting edge technology, from a 3-D printer pod that can create prosthetics to laser cutters and tool and die makers, she said.

The program, which requires a C or better in eighth-grade math, allows students to see if they’re interested in medical fields.

“It doesn’t mean they have to be committed to that, because this is also an opportunity to see if this is something they’re really interested in,” Ortiz said.

Meanwhile, at Moreau Catholic High School, students are using 3-D virtual lab spaces and a bank of bioprinters so new, they ran into some unexpected problems.

“The bioprinters are so new they had bugs in them. No one had used them before, so the kids had to figure out how to fix them,” said Ryan Brusco, assistant principal of instruction.

He said it was a great teachable moment, allowing the students to troubleshoot and get to know the printers under a teacher’s guidance.

Students are also able to explore everything from autopsies to zero gravity through zSpace, a 3-D virtual laboratory, he said. A pair of special glasses lets students study zoology, paleontology, astronomy and other fields from the safety of a classroom.

And at Moreau and California Crosspoint High School, students have a chance to build and program their own robots.

Moreau is building a technological makers space to house the “Moreaubots” team and other tech tools.

“It looks very industrial because it’s a place where kids can get their hands dirty,” Brusco said. “The main event of that particular space is that there’s a robotics, ‘Battle Bots’ kind of arena.”

California Crosspoint, which is moving from Alameda to Hayward due to a need for more space, plans to devote some of that space to its own makers’ rooms — one for industrial experimentation where students can be certified on tools, and one for technical learning.

Debbie Leong, California Crosspoint development director, believes the spaces are important for a lot more than just learning technical skills. They will also learn critical thinking skills that have been in short supply in recent years, she said.

“Now, people are realizing, ‘My goodness, people are forgetting how to think!’” she said. “If you lose creativity, you lose innovation.”

From firefighting to automotive aspirations

Chabot College offers a number of certificate and associate degree programs in both traditional majors, and those focused on preparing students for specific jobs. These include fire science, automotive technology, industrial arts, computer fields and more.

Some of the programs are new while others have been around since the 1960s, said Dr. Kristin Lima, the dean of Applied Technology and Business. But all of the programs allow students to use state of the art equipment and get a solid education while learning job-specific skills.

“We offer classes for all levels in welding, machining and auto,” she said. “In addition, we have our fire academy, electronics, computer applications and many more career pathways in high-demand, high-wage careers.”

Many students are able to find work in their fields as they progress through the program, often started at around $20 per hour, she said. Additionally, the college works with area employers to offer networking opportunities.

“We have guest speakers, job fairs, and other events to encourage partnerships with local employers,” Lima said.

Chabot also has a new partnership with BART to train electronics technicians, which will start in the fall.

Preparing for the job market

While all of these programs give students a well-rounded education, they also offer opportunities to develop job connections and skills.

For example, along with classes, Hayward Unified students in the Pathways programs are invited to talks by local industry partners and to visit local employers. They also visit California State University East Bay and Chabot College, and have the chance to apply for internship and job shadowing opportunities.

“Whenever we have employers come and interact with our students, they’re always amazed and impressed by our students,” Ortiz said.

For Hayward Unified, it goes beyond just STEM classrooms. There’s also the District Attorney’s Justice Academy for juniors and seniors.

They meet after school twice a month for a semester and have two-hour seminars with guest speakers that include District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, members of the board of supervisors, forensic scientists from Livermore Labs, and other members of government and the justice system.

Students also have the opportunity for a paid internship where they will job shadow public figures, police officers and others and learn what their jobs entail.

At Cal State East Bay, there’s also interest in preparing students for their careers, said Travis Nelson, career development manager for the College of Business and Economics. Cal State East Bay has two career centers, Nelson said — Academic Advising and Career Education for the entire college, and the Career Development Center for the business school.

The CDC spends the majority of its time split between working with employers to create internship programs and helping students develop the skills and traits employers look for, Nelson said.

For example, the CDC hosts a communications workshop twice a year with a certified executive coach from UC Berkeley.

“The entire reason this workshop exists is because of the importance employers place upon good communications skills for recent college grads,” Nelson said.

They also work with students who would be a good match for internships with local employers, including Pucci Foods in Hayward, Ashby Lumber in Berkeley, and Structure Properties in San Francisco.

One other unique program kicked off by the CDC is the “Dine With” program, where students can invite a professor, alumnus or alumna, or local business executive to lunch on-campus, and the university pays the tab, Nelson said. This lets students pick the brains of successful businesswomen and men, as well as network.

Meanwhile, the AACE has kicked off a series of presentations and panels by Cal State East Bay alumni, exploring different careers, what goes into each one, and various issues in the job market. Videos may be seen at www.youtube.com/user/CSUEBAlumni.

A focus on citizenship

More goes into preparing students for the working world than just teaching them technical skills, all of the schools pointed out. That’s why all of them also focus on turning out well-educated, well-rounded individuals.

For California Crosspoint High School and Moreau Catholic, that also means teaching students to be good citizens of the world. For example, Moreau Catholic has been developing ways that students can use their newfound technical skills to help those around them.

“Our science teachers are working with a program where they get partnered up with a young child who is missing a hand or part of their arm, and they use a 3-D printer to print prosthetics for kids,” Brusco said.

As each child grows, the classes will focus on creating prosthetics that grow with them, both in size and in features, such as fingers that grip.

At CCHS, they take the idea of global citizenship a step farther. The high school is partnered with a middle school in China that teaches students who hope to go to high school in the U.S. That means they accept a number of exchange students.

More than just that, however, a group of students from the school travels to China each year to stay for a week, where they mingle with students and offer chorus and drama presentations.

“We’re trying to open them up to the world, really,” Leong said.

 

Courtesy of SFGate.com. View original article.

 

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