Connecting K-12 with careers

3 Ways to prepare students for careers in Napa and beyond

Peg Maddocks, PhD, Executive Director, NapaLearnsP
Published on June 28, 2019

Preparing students for their future jobs and careers

Over the last few months, NapaLearns has been working on a variety of initiatives to help prepare students for a labor market that is being changed by emerging technologies like coding and robotics.

As students pursue college and career options, their collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving skills – together with their foundational skills in reading, math and science – are essential preparation for their future employment and success. As important is understanding the career paths that are available to them both here in Napa Valley and beyond.

What’s NEXT?

Napa Educator Externships — aka NEXT —  is a new program we just launched in partnership with the Napa County Office of Education. Unlike a student internship that can last months, NEXT is an externship for teachers that provides intensive, three-day job shadowing experiences.

Participating teachers will get a true picture of the work being performed, the challenges encountered, and the structure of a typical work day in the various roles and departments within three important industries in Napa: healthcare, hospitality, and wine. Afterwards, they will take the information learned to create a unit of study or a project that integrates industry skills and requirements into their existing academic curricula.

According to the Department of Education, the average student-to-school counselor ratio is 482-1. Because guiding students to careers that match their passions and skills is such an important role, participating NEXT teachers become “career ambassadors,” exposing students to available job options. This month, 58 Napa Valley teachers are being hosted by 25 local industry partners so they can bring those skills used on the job back into their classrooms.

As a result, we anticipate impacting more than 5,000 students throughout the county. You can learn more about NEXT here.

Teachers learning the trade at Bouchon Bakery

Field trips expose students to careers

Earlier this spring, we invested in a number of student field trips that help to reinforce the math and coding lessons taking place in the classroom and to give students aspirational goals about potential future careers.

In the last three months, 60 students toured the Trinchero Family Estate manufacturing plant and another 142 visited Travis Air Force Base for the X-STEM Symposium. We were even successful in providing a group of 20 students a tour of the Tesla manufacturing plant! These trips provide a way for students to visualize, experience, and engage with classroom subjects in very direct ways.

Students from American Canyon visit Tesla manufacturing plant

NVUSD rocks UC Davis annual robotics competition

In May, 126 students from six elementary, middle, and high schools participated in the 2019 UC Davis RoboPlay competition. Practicing and honing their coding skills, students programmed their robots to perform assigned tasks in a set amount of time. American Canyon schools earned 25 awards, including one statewide first place and three regional first place wins. Vintage High’s freshmen team competed for the first time and won the perseverance award; they also took 4th place in their regional division. So far, NapaLearns has invested $250,000 to bring this STEM curriculum to NVUSD schools.

Mary Anne Valles, Assistant Superintendent of Napa Valley Unified said, “This competition gives students the chance to display their problem solving, math, and coding skills timed against the clock. It isn’t easy and it takes grit. In particular, the American Canyon schools have really risen to the challenge and they have positioned NVUSD as one of the top robotics districts in the state. ”Learn more about the competition here.

Members of American Canyons 5th/6th grade team, The Snacks, are from left, Zachary Zeng, Mason Brito, Calix Mintalar, and Jason Apuyan. They attend Canyon Oaks Elementary and American Canyon Middle School.

Looking ahead to 2019-2020

Focusing on career readiness will continue to be an ongoing theme for us in the coming 2019-2020 school year. These programs depend on support from people like you. If you are interested in learning more or making a donation, let me know. I’d love to tell you more.

Enjoy your summer vacation,

Peg Maddocks, Ph.D.
Executive Director
In the spring of 2018, NapaLearns was awarded the Napa Valley Nonprofit Excellence Award.

NapaLearns®  is a 501c3 nonprofit, EIN: 27-2705006. NapaLearns is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.

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