Inside Education: Recent Sessions

It’s No Longer Vocational Ed – It’s Career Tech

For those not familiar with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s community leadership series, Inside Education, it is a series of workshops conducted once a month over a period of nine months and designed to better acquaint the community with the programs and services of public education in Santa Cruz County. Registered participants meet with school leaders, teachers and administrators, visit classrooms and specialty programs to obtain a first-hand, interactive, in-depth look at the business of education and the methods of teaching students in our public schools.

The second session of Inside Education focused on career development programs. Known as vocational education in years past, the demands of preparing students for meaningful careers in the quickly evolving workplace of the 21st century has transformed the educational requirement from simply skills preparation to the complexities of full career technical education.

Administrators of the Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s Regional Occupational Program (ROP) introduced Inside Education participants to the new framework. The program shifted its emphasis from traditional vocational education courses to a broader based career curriculum developed using six career pathways defined by local job market needs. ROP provides over fifty courses in six career pathways at all high schools and several community agencies. The six Career Pathways are Agriculture and Natural Resources; Arts and Communications; Business, Marketing and Information Systems; Engineering and Industrial Technology; Home, Health and Recreation; and Social, Human and Governmental Services. ROP works closely with local businesses many of which in collaboration with ROP offer internships and on-the-job training.

Inside Education participants visited and participated with students at ROP’s Economics of Marketing class located on the Harbor High campus. Students explore the utilization of traditional advertising, integrated marketing communication and new media technologies in global markets. The Engineering and Industrial Career Technology class, also at Harbor High, provides students with the entry level skills required for employment in the bicycle repair industry including marketing skills. The Arts and Communications Career Path includes a photography course taught at Harbor. Students learn not only standard photography techniques but are introduced to computer technology and digital photography. The Health Careers course at Harbor offers students the opportunity to participate in a combination of interactive classroom instruction, career panels and an introduction to various pre-clinical medical skills.

At Soquel High School, the Inside Education group took part in the Engineering and Industrial Career Technology Pathway Cabinetry class. Instruction includes design and creation of cabinetry, furniture and finish details as well as aspects of operating a business. The Arts and Communications Career Pathway Computer Graphics class teaches a graphics course that explores drawing techniques and tools used in computer art and graphics. Emphasis is placed on the practical aspects of commercial art in publishing, design and illustration, photography and multimedia presentations. The Environmental Horticulture Science, part of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Career Pathway at Soquel High teaches the biological and scientific principals needed to improve quality of life and ensure sustainability of the environment. The range of business services and manufacturing industries supporting environmental horticulture are studied. The ROP Flower Shop, a student operated business, is also located on the Soquel High campus.

Following the class site visits, Inside Education participants attended the annual Your Future is Our Business luncheon. The non-profit Your Future is Our Business supports career development activities for students. The luncheon celebrated student success in various career education programs and featured current and past student speakers giving testimonials to the value of Career Technical Education.

Watch for future articles pertaining to additional sessions of the Inside Education project.

Quotes from participants:

“CTE/ROP is an important and viable program that goes way beyond the woodshop stereotype that was part of my high school experience.”

“I had no idea that ROP programs were so significant and so well done. I’d love to see even more ROP classes in our schools.”


For more information

For more information regarding Inside Education, contact Cheryl Morris at (831) 320-3625.