08 May 2018

Beyond the Diploma – At-Risk Students Flourish in CTE

LANCASTER, Calif. – May 8, 2018 – Learn4Life, a dropout recovery program that offers a free high school diploma, is celebrating National Charter Schools Week by spotlighting some of its job skills training programs and students.

Learn4Life offers a variety of career technical education (CTE) pathways to give students real-world experience in a viable career pathway that builds self-confidence while they earn their high school diploma. The average student enrolls at the age of 17, is more than a year behind in credits and is socioeconomically disadvantaged, dealing with multiple obstacles that make it hard to succeed in high school.

“Some of the students have made remarkable progress,” said Craig Beswick, a trauma-informed education specialist. “Imagine going from being truant and on the brink of dropping out of high school to re-engaging with school and finding passion in a skill that will provide a viable future.”

This school year, more than 10,000 students enrolled in a CTE pathway, up 35 percent over last year. Following are six examples of students benefiting from the job skills training programs. Here are their stories.

Rafa Escamilla recently completed the program’s design, visual and media arts pathway, which emphasizes digital video production, learning the basics of filmmaking and production while gaining hands-on experience on professional film sets. Rafael is pursuing a certification in Apple’s Final Cut Pro and plans to complete the information and communication technology pathway before graduating this June. Using the knowledge he acquired, Rafael launched a video and photography company working events such as weddings and quinceañeras.

Arianna Arias participated in the program’s business management CTE pathway, which offers a comprehensive program on entrepreneurship where local college professors teach students how to build a business plan. They learn the fundamentals of starting and operating a business and develop the skills necessary to succeed as an entrepreneur. Set to graduate this June with a 4.0 GPA, Arianna will be the first person in her family to attend college when she starts at Fresno City College in the fall.

Anthony Manzo, 16 years old, is completing two CTE pathways: cybersecurity and game development. Through the pathways, he is learning the foundations of Windows administration, network security, cryptography and video game development. Anthony participates in the national CyberPatriot program, created to inspire careers in cybersecurity or other STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. Despite being three years younger than his teammates, Anthony was elected captain of the school’s CyberPatriot team two years in a row and led both teams to success.

Mary Garcia De La Rosa is a recent graduate of the Youth Policy Institute’s YouthBuild program. She learned hands-on construction skills including handling tools, basic carpentry and painting. Mary earned the OSHA 10 certification, OSHA forklift certification, a CPR first-aid certification and the Home Builders Institute Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate. During the six-month program, she contributed to two beautification projects, including painting more than 100 murals on a local elementary school campus. Mary graduated in February with a 3.3 GPA and plans to attend Mission Community College this fall.

Esteban Alonso came to the program behind in credits after missing many days at a traditional high school. He participated in the CTE foundational professional skills course, which allowed him to explore his career interests and work on professional soft skills, including resume preparation and interview etiquette. Esteban will graduate this June with a 3.1 GPA.

Noah Branzfield learned a variety of technical skills and techniques in his CTE courses at Vocademy, which included welding, wood shop, laser cutting, 3-D printing and sewing. He took a solar engineering class, where he learned the importance of solar technology. Through one-on-one mentoring with supportive teachers and tutors, Noah is on his way to graduation.

“Giving our students opportunity and a sense of their future after graduation is a critical part of our trauma-informed model to help them overcome the multiple obstacles they face in high school,” said Beswick.

CTE pathways help students achieve academic success and gain confidence. The more students participate in career and technical student organizations, the higher their academic motivation, academic engagement, grades, career self-efficacy, college aspiration and employability skills.

Through corporate partnerships and exclusive workforce-readiness (WIOA) programs, students are able to graduate with a jump-start on their futures. The CTE pathways include business management; information and communication technology; design, visual and media arts; patient care and health science; education and child development; and public safety.

Before entering a specific CTE pathway, students explore their interests and career goals and learn professional skills including resume preparation and interview etiquette. Every student completes a 10-week course to receive five credits in professional skills and five credits in foundations in computing. Then, interested students move on to a specific career pathway where they have the opportunity to learn hands-on skills while earning college credits or industry-recognized certifications. After completing the program, students are able to secure internships, apprenticeships or jobs with the skills they acquired.

For more information about Learn4Life and the thousands of at-risk students who have graduated, visit www.learnfourlife.org.

Note: High-resolution photos available upon request.

Ann Abajian
(844) 515-8186