Back to School: Designing a sustainable education ecosystem at TTUSD
Special to the Sun
In the education world, the term “Education Ecosystem” first gained recognition and application around 2002.
It refers to a complex, cooperative network that includes a variety of stakeholders whose collaborative efforts generate new ideas, practices, and services to support the needs of the community.
In the education sector, this ecosystem is a result of collaborative partnerships between schools, local businesses, higher education partners, philanthropic organizations, and for-profit entities, all of whom are committed to creating additional benefits for students.
At Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, we already have an education ecosystem that is quite successful. We recognize and appreciate the tremendous support that the district receives from various community partners.
Our students attend Sierra College and accumulate college credits while in high school; our local businesses employ students for work experience; and the education foundation, Excellence in Education, raises hundreds of thousands of dollars to support our classrooms and teachers.
Additionally, Measure A and community partners such as Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships, Arts for the Schools, and Tahoe Forest Health System, make it possible to bring science, arts, wellness activities and other services to our schools.
We continue to evaluate how we can enhance the experiences of scholars who live here, and TTUSD is committed to strengthening our education ecosystem through two new areas of service that will benefit our local community.
The first area of service focuses on adults so that they may better support their students’ success and post high school readiness. Recognizing that strong family support is a cornerstone of student success, we have designed and implemented an adult education program called the Parent University.
This is a collaborative network of community service providers who design and offer workshops and courses to support adult learning. In this University, adults can participate in GED preparation, certification courses, workshops, and training sessions in various areas such learning a language or earning a work certificate as an Interpreter/Translator or basic computer skills.
This past year, the new GED program served more than 50 adults, while 75 parents earned a certificate of completion for their commitment to a nine-week training through the Parents for Quality Education (PIQE) academy. Another 50 adults earned their English certificates.
The 2016-2017 Parent University schedule includes programs and services that tie-in even more community experts from local businesses to support our adult learners.
The workshops are cost-free for attendees while the GED courses have a fee associated with materials and tests. We look forward to serving more adults as all workshops and courses are provided in both English and Spanish.
The second area of focus is the Career Technical Education and job readiness goal for all high school graduates attending our schools. The bigger question here is how can we ensure that in addition to challenging our students with college readiness options, we are also providing them career-readiness skills, which include both soft skills and hard skills, for a successful transition to careers.
Many of our scholars participate in several career-themed pathways such as Medical, Engineering, Culinary and Public Safety, which are offered in our high schools. With the support from business partners such as Parallax and Williamson Boat Lifts, to name a few, we have successfully placed our students in internship positions to better prepare them to entire the workforce.
But there is a need for so much more; we need more partners in both the public and private sectors to open their doors to our students and give them this real world of work experience through job shadowing and internships.
All additional opportunities will help build our future workforce. It gives students an incentive to return to the Tahoe Truckee community and be part of its economic growth because they will have earned their earliest job readiness skills and experiences here.
Our work with building a sustainable education ecosystem remains our commitment to this community of learners. The school district is committed to this journey and with the help of our community business partners, we aim to make this a sustainable and successful model that serves our students and families.
We are designing a world that guides and nurtures every student for a successful future. Please join us on this journey.
Fal Asrani, EdD., is Deputy Chief Learning Officer for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.
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