Nearby, Riverbank Unified School District is focused on ensuring students have the linguistic ability and cultural awareness to operate and compete in the global market. Like many other districts, Riverbank students have access to dual immersion programs through which they develop fluency in both English and Spanish. With an eye on China as a developing business giant, Riverbank has folded Mandarin into the acquisition of language for students in the Riverbank Academy of Multilingual Education. This program starts early, and elementary students who opt into the Academy begin to explore Chinese culture and language in the early grades. This focus will continue throughout their middle and high school experience. Fluency in multiple languages allows students to stay connected to their own families both here and abroad, and to prepare for job opportunities on the worldwide market. Districts in the southern portion of the county are on the innovative train as well. Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) supports and invites new partnerships with local industry by hosting a TUSD and Industry Business Symposium. The results of this increased collaboration are new internships for students with the City of Turlock and E & J Gallo Winery, for instance, and new employment opportunities for former students. Ceres Unified School District has a well-established Manufacturing and Green Technology Academy. With strong partnerships and a talented and dedicated teacher, the Academy has its students installing solar energy systems for low-income families, among other projects. Instructor Chris Van Meter indicated that Gallo and Frito Lay have placed hundreds of his students in manufacturing positions upon graduation from Ceres High School. The Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) has great plans for the recently-dedicated Tom Changnon Education Center. This building houses several Career Technical Programs. The Northern California Construction Training program is preparing adult-aged students with industryrecognized certifications. Forklifts and stacks of pallets, in the large, open space once dedicated to the Modesto Bee’s printing presses, provide evidence of another training program
dedicated to meeting the needs of local employers. Home Health Care is a burgeoning industry with a new program destined for the same building. Bottom line, through partnerships with local employers and Opportunity Stanislaus, SCOE’s mission is to provide just-in-time training and certification programs that enable graduates to walk into hard-to-staff and wellpaid positions. Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools, Scott Kuykendall is fully behind the creative and innovative programs destined for the Changnon Center. These programs represent the career end of a pipeline or continuum that is shaping up locally. He describes the Cradle to Career Partnership being launched in Stanislaus County as inspiring. “By aligning systems and forging new partnerships, we can better and more creatively utilize our resources – fiscal, physical, and human – to ensure increased prosperity for Stanislaus residents.” Both Modesto Junior College and CSU, Stanislaus have representatives at this same Partnership table ensuring that the large educational systems in the county are talking to each other, identifying obstacles for students who are navigating the systems, and problem solving together to remove the barriers. While college is “not for everyone,” some college, or postsecondary training is. Yes, this county needs skilled workers who can fill our local industry’s unfilled positions as soon as possible, but it is also true that this county needs more degree earners. Whereas one in every three Californian adults has completed a four-year degree, only one in six Stanislaus County adult residents can say the same. It is important to note, CSU, Stanislaus has the largest percent of first generation college graduates in the California State University system. So educators are at work across several fronts: preparing students for careers and preparing students for college. Like the talented acrobat at the circus who is spinning multiple plates while performing feats of flexibility and dexterity, educators are working hard to adapt to the technological times, provide employers with their immediate job needs, offer programs that meet student interests, and prepare those same students for the unknown future. Innovation starts with the youngest of students and continues through to programs that target adults. Through its various efforts, diverse programs and dedicated employees, the Business of Education strives to meet its bottom line: a thriving and prosperous Stanislaus County. SEPTEMBER 2019
Across the county, at the far eastern edge of Stanislaus, the Oakdale Joint Unified School District increased vocational opportunities for ALL students, with a particular emphasis on Agriculture Education. Superintendent Marc Malone knew that “The Agriculture Industry has a rich history in Oakdale and is currently one of the fastest growing industries in our nation.” The district doubled the staffing of the Agriculture Department to support student participation at twice the former rate. An agriculture pathway allows a student to meet all the UC/CSU prerequisites, while providing a wide spectrum of agricultural experiences. Oakdale is developing a School Farm, a 26-acre facility that allows students to literally get their hands in the dirt. The Farm offers students a course of study including: animal science, plant science, animal husbandry, crop production, hydrology, and agriculture (international) business.