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Thursday, 10 April 2014 02:19

Sylmar Biotech Health Academy Will Benefit in Grant that Encourages Pathways to Positions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Unified School District received to a $7 million Youth CareerConnect grant to expand career pathways in health care, biotechnology and other techrelated opportunities at three high schools, as well as business and finance, another high growth area, on three additional campuses.

In L.A. Unified, the six schools are: the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) pilot at Helen Bernstein High School; Sylmar Biotech and Health Academy; Health Information and Technology at Manual Arts Senior High School; Business and Tourism at Miguel Contreras Learning Center; International Business and Trade at Phineas Banning Senior High School and the Responsible Indigenous Social Entrepreneurs (RISE) pilot, which encourages neighborhood and small business development, at Augustus Hawkins Senior High School. These schools, which are not magnets, serve all students.

Students will benefit from specialized instruction linked to these fields, through work experience, internships and mentoring. They will graduate ready for advanced studies in college, an apprenticeship, a paycheck, or all three.

The District was awarded one of the first 24 grants announced by this collaboration between the federal departments of Education and Labor. It is designed to help schools provide more industry-related knowledge and skills.

“These pathways provide additional routes to success for students as they prepare to graduate college-ready and career-prepared,” Superintendent John Deasy said. “This grant recognizes the caliber of instruction in LA Unified, and represents Washington’s faith in our ability to deliver.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti sent a letter to the Obama Administration supporting LAUSD. “Today’s announcement that Los Angeles Unified School District has been awarded $7 million to expand STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs and Business and Finance education is another huge victory for our city and our students,” Garcetti said. “I’m very pleased this grant will benefit students in Westlake and from South Los Angeles to Sylmar and from the Harbor to Hollywood.”

“We are building these models as we expand these pathways throughout the District,” Donna Muncey, Chief of Intensive Support and Intervention at the District, said.

Business, academic, government, industry and community partners support the pathways. They include local universities and community colleges; hospitals and health care companies; the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, the Youth Policy Institute, L.A.’s Promise and the Los Angeles City Workforce Investment Board among others.

“Through this grant students will have opportunities to engage in active learning as they work on real-world projects with professionals in the classroom and in the work place,” Esther Soliman, the Linked Learning Administrator for L.A. Unified, said. “By aligning our STEM and Business and Finance pathways to high-need and high-growth industries in the Los Angeles area, we are preparing our students for a successful transition to college and career."

The Bernstein STEM pilot, a certified linked-learning school, currently offers career pathways in medicine and engineering, according to the principal Paul Hirsch. His students are currently taking courses such as: introduction to engineering, principles of engineering, digital electronics, and engineering development and design or BioMed principles, human body systems, medical interventions and biomedical innovations.

“This is absolutely incredible,” Hirsch said about the grant. “In addition to biotechnology, we also focus on engineering and will be shifting more toward civil engineering and architecture. Now, we will have the funds to buy 3D CAT (civil engineering design) software and the other equipment we need. We also will be able to send our teachers out to hospitals and engineering firms so they can bring back real world cutting edge information into the classrooms.”

He believes the Youth CareerConnect program is critical to current needs of students. “The old model of technical trade schools had a negative stigma, but today’s students need to enter into the workforce with 21st century skills and linked learning really connects what is happening in the classroom with what is happening right now in the working world. We can help our students enter into doctorate programs and certificate programs like lab technicians, radiologists and lab assistants. Those solid middle- class job opportunities are what our students need most.”

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