Scotts Valley High School has a plan to help its students connect their education and future careers. On Wednesday February 19th, I listened in to a presentation by Michael Hanson, the principal of Scotts Valley Highschool, and Tanya Krause, the superintendent of the Scotts Valley Unified School District, alongside several Scotts Valley businesses. Krause summarized their hopes for the program, “We are trying to provide opportunities for high school students to get out into business communities, have exposure to different kinds of careers, and hopefully want to stay in our community.” The new program will encourage informational interviews, touring, job shadowing, and interning at workplaces throughout the community.
Superintendent Krause best summarized how the new program came about, “About two years ago, the Water District started a governance committee with Bruce McPherson, the Chief of Police, City Manager, and students from the high school as well. The student’s kept saying, ‘We wish we had more connection to our community.’ So, I contacted Danny and said, ‘Let’s figure out how to build this partnership.’ For a year the Chamber, Principal, and myself have come together to talk about how we can benefit both the school and community.” Principal Michael Hanson mentioned a county-wide program that the SVHS program is modeled after, “Your Future is Our Business.” He “felt like there was an opportunity to bring some of this in house, make in specific to Scotts Valley and our community… The Chamber is our boots on the ground in the community, bringing people here, getting us in contact.”
Danny Reber, the Executive Director of the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce and official program “boots,” is excited to help students explore their futures, “We have such a high percentage of our graduates that go on to college, but sometimes it’s worth looking into the vocational side. On the chamber side, there are so many businesses that are looking for young people. There are good jobs and we’re trying to connect those dots.” Hanson echoed Reber’s statement, “Particularly in Scotts Valley, college gets a lot of the focus, not career… We hear a lot of stories about kids going to college and not even sure what they want to study or become because their focus is on getting in and they haven’t researched their interests or had experiences to test those ideas.”
According to Principal Hanson, although many students are already excited about the program, the school is also providing “a carrot on the end of the stick.” Each student at Scotts Valley High must complete 60 hours of community service throughout their four years in order to graduate. This new program would allow for students to gain up to 15 hours by leading informational interviews, touring, job shadowing, and interning at a community workplace. All students must receive pre-approval, will complete a preparation session before visiting any business, and must participate outside of school hours in order to count the hours towards their graduation requirement. Hanson is hopeful to start job shadows this upcoming spring break. “Hopefully we walk out the door with a few names on the list that we can follow up with and start working with connections.” Further down the line, the Principal is excited to “build out [the program] as time goes on,” allowing for more internships and relationships throughout the community.
After the presentation, many chamber members were eager to discuss involvement in the program. Lali Kates, from Food Trucks A Go Go, was extremely excited about the prospect of working with an intern. So was Maia Yates, Clubhouse Director of the Boys and Girls Club, “Spring break is perfect for us, since we’re open from 7 to 6… Bring on the shadows, the more the better!... We do a ton of training, so this fits right in with what we’re already doing.” Nicholas Kurns, the Finance and Customer Service Manager of the Scotts Valley Water District, looks forward to the program, recalling “a phenomal experience with a Scotts Valley student… We realized how big of a boost their perspective, energy, and talents are.”
Find more information, or sign up your local business to participate in the program, at https://svhs-scottsvalley-ca.schoolloop.com/careerexploration.