Welcome Potential or Current Business and Community Partners!
In West Contra Costa Unified, we currently support a variety of career-based academies in our six comprehensive high schools: Richmond, Kennedy, Pinole, El Cerrito, De Anza. These include:
- 3 Law and law enforcement academies
- 3 Health academies
- 3 IT academies
- 2 Engineering academies
- 2 Media academies
- 2 Performing arts/technical theater academies
(See Career Pathways menu above for more detailed descriptions, including course progressions and contacts.)
We are fortunate to have some wonderful business and community partners, but we are always looking for more professionals to share their expertise and work with students. It is of enormous value to our students to have exposure to adults in the professional world and to begin to become more at ease in interacting on this level.
You can fit yourself in at a variety of levels of time commitment and in a variety of ways. Perhaps you can offer to host students to visit your place of employment once a year or are able be a guest speaker. Whatever your level of participation, your offer makes a difference and is greatly appreciated. Some of our partners are retired and are able to regularly help out in the classroom. Below are just some of the ways that you could partner with an academy:
Field Trips. Field trips are an excellent way of exposing students to both the workplace and post-secondary educational and training institutions. Site tours of participating businesses allow students to become familiar with the products and services of a company, learn about entry-level positions and the qualifications needed, and observe and talk to people working in jobs to which they may aspire. We have found that the best way to structure visits is to build in time for small groups of students to interact with an employee, perhaps on a rotation basis. Sometimes this happens over lunch, after a tour.
Class Speakers. Perhaps a field trip is not possible, but you are able to come or send a speaker. Usually it is advantageous to have a conversation with the career elective teacher about various topics that could be covered or a particular focus so that the teacher can match that to their curriculum. For example, if you are or were an appellate attorney, the teacher would want to schedule your visit once she/he has introduced that topic, and possibly before or after a visit to an appellate hearing. In some cases the academy lead teacher is the career elective teacher, but if not, the lead teacher will put you in contact with that teacher.
Provide feedback on Student Work. It is valuable for students to receive “authentic” feedback from an industry professional, and teachers have found that when students know their work will be viewed and commented on by an industry professional, it tends to “up the bar.” As a business partner, you would not be asked to grade to student work, but only to provide helpful comments and direction.
Co-Teaching on a Unit of Study. If you are able to offer more time, perhaps on a daily or thrice-weekly basis for 1-4 weeks, you may find it interesting and rewarding to work on a unit or project with students.
Sometimes a teacher may obtain the help of two or three professionals, and break students into groups.
Participate on a Senior Defense Panel. Many academies ask seniors to make a presentation to their teachers and a small panel of professionals on what they have learned and accomplished during their time in the academy. Typically, the teacher will provide a rubric for the professional to mark up, and provide a time for professionals to question the student. Sometimes this involves a pre-meeting, so that volunteers can be clear on the process and their role.
Advisory Board Member. Every academy is supposed to meet with a professional advisory board to review curriculum, exchange ideas, and plan enrichment activities. Usually advisory board members also try to help pull in other professionals and find opportunities for students. Advisory board meetings are usually in the early evening and last one to two hours.
Student Mentor. Students in 11th grade are typically matched to a mentor, perhaps in small groups. A mentor is someone who talks to students about their progress and plans. Usually the academy lead or the head advisory board member will create an agenda for these mentor-mentee meetings. Mentoring varies from academy to academy. Some mentors review student work, some review resumes and conduct mock interviews, but many simply play the role of a caring adult, willing to share their work and life experience.
Extra-Curricular Program Assistant. Some academies create extracurricular clubs, such as mock trial, or environmental clubs, and need professionals to help them with these activities. Sometimes community organizations are able to take it on themselves to run their own programs for students after school.
Provide Student Internships. It is our goal that every academy student has some kind of work experience before graduating high school. This has been a difficult goal to realize, but nevertheless, we strive to get interested students prepared and placed in summer internships, even if for only a few weeks. We are able to provide MOUs and liability insurance for these experiences, and are always in need of providers of internships.