Rock Springs: Celebrating career academies
A four-year college education isn’t for everyone. Both President Obama and Secretary Duncan often note the importance of community colleges, technical and career programs to the future of our country’s economic health. Earlier this year, the Administration proposed a new blueprint for transforming career and technical education (CTE) that would dedicate $1 billion to provide high-quality job-training opportunities that reduce skill shortages and spur business growth.
The CTE blueprint would also expand career academies by 3,000, which brings us to Friday’s first back-to-school bus tour event at Rock Springs High School in Rock Springs, Wyo. Rock Springs High has two career academies, one focused on energy the other on health care. Career academies combine college-prep work and career and technical curricula, and help prepare students to continue their education at the postsecondary level and for successful careers.
Under Secretary Martha Kanter, Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss and Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier toured Rock Springs’ academies and held a roundtable with school officials, teachers and students.
After hearing from former Rock Springs’ students how the academies prepared them for careers after high school, Kanter noted that Rock Springs is an “island of excellence,” and also praised the students and school for having so many girls in the energy program and interested in engineering. (Young women are commonly under-represented in science, technology, engineering and math programs.) After boarding the bus for our next stop, we all commented how inspired we were by Rock Springs, and how important it is that these model programs not remain islands, but rather expand throughout the country.
Read more about this visit from Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss.
Rawlins: Positive developments in distance learning
Following our visit to Rock Springs, the Education Drives America bus rolled on to the Carbon County Higher Education Center in Rawlins, Wyo. In this rural area, the Center is improving education opportunities through the use of distance learning. Kanter and Weiss joined Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach John White for a roundtable discussion with school officials, teachers, parents, students and business leaders.
Kanter asked the group what they viewed as their biggest challenges. One teacher noted that there is a great need for technological infrastructure and support, and a local energy business leader explained that students aren’t coming out of high school with the necessary skills to work for his company.
We could see that bringing business and school leaders together was an important step in this bus tour stop, and we look forward to seeing exciting new public-private partnerships in this area of Wyoming.
Cheyenne: Linking education and jobs
The Education Drives America bus made its final stop of the week at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. Surrounded by massive wind turbines, Kanter, Weiss and Dann-Messier held a town hall to discuss the important link between education and jobs. The trio fielded a variety of questions, and Kanter spoke to the importance of community colleges while Dann-Messier noted that Laramie was an example of how public-private partnerships are helping students and the local economy.
See what people were saying on Twitter during day three, and watch this video summary of our day in Wyoming:
Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.
The bus parked over the weekend and will be back on the road Monday when Secretary Duncan rejoins the tour in Denver. Get email updates about the tour by signing up here.
Cameron Brenchley is director of digital engagement and is blogging and tweeting his way from coast to coast during ED’s annual back-to-school bus tour.