Brea Olinda USD, Brea, California
Challenge: Interest in the magnet school had waned after a period of declining enrollment. Accessing the community’s intellectual capital to invigorate learning became a priority in shifting the school’s focus to career readiness.
Initiative: Each classroom partners with a local business—from eateries and technology leaders to police departments and medical professionals—so that students can explore careers and engage in hands-on problem-solving. Business partners help students learn new technology skills that apply to their industry, and explore how to use those skills in practical ways. The program also includes brainstorming sessions, field trips and classroom visits. The school partners with the Discovery Cube Science Center of Orange County for additional learning opportunities.
Impact: “Our schoolwide career-exploration emphasis has transformed student dialogue to include language of college and career interest,” says communications specialist Nichole Pichardo. Since implementation, enrollment has grown by nearly 30 percent while Smarter Balanced and ELA scores have increased.
Advice: Provide time for teachers to work collaboratively on research, planning and professional development. Also, seek community partners at local chambers of commerce, volunteer clubs, and senior centers, among other organizations.