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  • Local Education: Rising to the Challnege

  • Technology is not only changing the employment landscape in Carpinteria today. It’s impact on the world is changing the way that students learn and prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.
     
    In many industries, the most in-demand occupations did not exist ten, or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately find themselves in occupations that today do not exist.
     
     
    Preparing Students for Global Competitiveness
     
    In such a rapidly evolving employment landscape, the ability to anticipate and prepare for the future means educators are not only tasked with teaching the fundamentals and promoting student achievement, they need to prepare students for global competitiveness. That’s where Superintendent Diana Rigby with Carpinteria Unified School District (CUSD) comes in. With 2,269 students currently enrolled, Rigby recognizes that the teachers need access to professional development and resources to teach the next generation the skills they need to effectively navigate the future job market. She has made it a priority to re-allocate resources and meet the demand head on.
     
    “We’re actively changing how we allocate resources and using grant money for professional development, and procuring new materials,” Rigby said. “We have plans and are investigating schedule changes that will allow more choice for electives.”
     
    CUSD is working to expand elective choices to include engineering, design, and robotics, while also increasing technology tools. Rigby also mentioned a new grant that will provide funding to specifically teach girls how to code. Grants definitely help bridge the gap and keep all types of special projects moving forward, and the Carpinteria Education Foundation (CEF) helps fund many requests.
     
    CEF has funded a number of programs and initiatives at CUSD for the 2017-2018 school year, ranging from assistance in exposing students to the arts via other disciplines or experience, to many science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) projects encompassing many grade levels. Operating under the mission to ensure quality educational opportunities for all CUSD students, CEF helps provide greater academic opportunities for all students, today and into the future.
     
    “The tremendously generous donations from our local community greatly impact the resources available to the students of CUSD.  The reinvigoration of science, math, technology and art programs as well as supporting the already hard-working parent groups is why we work so diligently to fundraise,” CEF President Tyler Powell said. “We have interviewed hundreds of students for scholarships and the level of inspiration is incredible. There is no better investment than knowledge.”
     
    And that investment in the communities future encompasses every age and stage. Keeping in mind that it takes a village to raise a child, the Carpinteria Children’s Project (CCP) has worked since 2009, in conjunction with the Carpinteria Unified School District, to coordinate efforts in the community so that all families and children are healthy and successful. As the coordinating hub of the Thrive Carpinteria Partner Network, a formal partnership of early childhood education and social services providers who serve families as a team, CCP works to fill gaps and provide direct services in early childhood education and family support.
     
    “The first eight years of life are critical to each child’s development. Young children need security, love and to engage in lots of talking, reading, and singing,”   CCP Executive Director Maria L. Chesley, Ph.D. said.  “We aim to ensure all Carpinteria children are surrounded by supportive parents and our strong village.”
     
     
    Partnering for the Future
     
    The Cate School, a four-year, coeducational college preparatory boarding school benefits from partnerships, and with their diverse alumni base provides a global perspective for their students to step into a variety of educational and professional specialties. With 280 students currently enrolled, Charlotte Brownlee, Director of Admission and Enrollment, feels that Cate’s curriculum prepares graduates to go on to pursue interesting, eclectic, and ambitious endeavors. A significant number of Cate graduates also end up majoring in engineering and STEM related fields.
     
    “We weave tech into a lot of things we do, and while we don’t have a stand-alone tech program, our curriculum is based on a culture of inquiry,”  Brownlee said. “Our courses are designed to help students really embrace and understand critical thinking skills, and learn how to ask great questions.”  
     
    The business community has also become engaged in shaping the future and LinkedIn and Procore are just two of the local tech companies getting involved with local schools. Rigby is definitely on board, and would like to expand partnerships throughout the community. “We’ve had teachers visit Procore, which will hopefully result in student visits that we can use to teach them how tech and science influence our lives.”
     
    “I would like to see us partner with every single company in Carpinteria,” Rigby added. “I would like to have every single student have the opportunity to meet with employees for career exploration.”
     
     
    Where Ideas and Innovations are Born
     
    The changing career landscape is also impacting local universities, and Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) is keeping pace and offering more than 80 degree programs and 50+ career technical programs to local residents. SBCC offers a broad variety of technology courses and has skills competency awards, certificates and AA/AS degrees housed in various departments throughout the college. STEM 101 introduces students to the sciences (biology, chemistry, computer science, earth sciences, geography, mathematics, physics, etc.) and their interdependence. In addition, SBCC’s STEM Transfer Program helps students complete the required courses for transfer to a four-year university in their chosen STEM major. Students also have the opportunity to learn how to participate in research, internships, and professional conferences to help them further their skills and advance in their career.
     
    Geoff Green, Chief Executive Officer of the SBCC Foundation, sees SBCC and all community colleges as drivers of social growth and mobility with courses and programs available to all members of the community. That adaptive approach perfectly positions SBCC to educate the future workforce, and enhance the skill sets of those already employed.
     
    “The Foundation was established to be essentially the conduit for private investment in the college,” Green said. “We do a great deal of fundraising for and funding of equity work in STEM fields, and we have a number of corporate donors who are absolutely committed to supporting STEM students through scholarships, programs, emergency funds and more. So yes, we do have a number of local tech companies that are donors and are committed to helping students succeed.”
     
    While the SBCC Foundation is helping enrolled students succeed, it is also helping many get in the door. Through SBCC Promise, any local student who completes their secondary education within the Santa Barbara Community College District will have the opportunity to attend SBCC full-time for two years free of charge. The goal of the SBCC Promise is to remove economic barriers to higher education and make SBCC fully accessible to all local students. Using privately raised funds, the SBCC Promise will cover two years of all required fees, books, and supplies for any eligible student.
     
    “This is what the young people in our community deserve,” Green said. “We have 1,629 students right now being fully supported, and are providing opportunities for those who otherwise may not have come.”
     
    The University of California, Santa Barbara (USCB) is also meeting the growing demand for an educated workforce and offering students the skills they need. UCSB is known for its heavy scientific research and that has helped Santa Barbara County develop into a tech hub.
     
    With a cutting-edge Technology Management Program (TMP), which provides a path for innovative and dedicated students to gain in-depth understanding or entrepreneurial and business practices in global-technology based companies, the university is offering students, from any major, the opportunity to earn an undergraduate certificate. UCSB has also worked with more than 30 of the world’s leading tech firms to develop a new TMP Master’s program. Additionally TMP hosts an annual New Venture Competition to celebrate and support new venture creation while providing a platform for some of UCSB’s most outstanding young entrepreneurs to present their ideas and innovations.
     
    Many of UCSB’s professors and graduates have started their own tech companies in the region, and that has been made possible in part by UCSB’s Office of Technology and Industry Alliances (TIA). TIA is geared towards support for faculty, researchers, and students on campus who want assistance with issues relating to establishing a company, by providing assistance with licensing, permits, industry partnerships, and more. 
     
    According to Monica J. Solorzano, Assistant Director of UCSB’s Office of Governmental Relations, the support through TIA helps ideas come to light, and helps transition research to reality.
     
    “There are a lot of spinoffs that come out of TIA,” she said, “and numerous success stories. The office specifically tries to help make those connections for our students, and keep their ideas moving forward.”
     
    California State University – Channel Islands recognizes that computer science and information technology is a quickly evolving field, and as a result, they have a number of rapidly growing and vibrant programs at the university. With faculty specializing in algorithms, artificial intelligence, security, social media, and robotics, students benefit from small classes, state of the art facilities, and direct access to committed instructors.
     
    CSU – Channel Islands also offers an Information Technology major and minor and provides students a foundation in mathematics, programming, networking, databases, web systems, computer architecture and information systems. The program covers the interdisciplinary ground between a BS in Computer Science and a BS in Management Information Systems, emphasizing the fastest growing segments of both.
     
    Melissa Whitacre, Marketing Specialist for CSU-Channel Islands Extended University, works primarily with degree seeking students who are also working adults focused on expanding their job skills. Whether trying to complete their undergraduate degree or returning for a Master’s Degree, the increasing focus on STEM fields is evident.
     
    “The employee needs to have a combination of experience and education on their resume in order to land the job they want and move ahead in their careers,” Whitacre said.
     
    The university works so that graduate students meet the needs of local business and tech leaders. One avenue to accomplish that is through the Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics, which has a business and technology partnership that works with community leaders, business and technology executives, and professionals. Through the program, the university is able to foster the collaboration of technology and related service-based companies, and promote technological excellence among students, faculty and staff for the benefit of the region’s economy.
     
    “Through the Extended University we work to help our students meet the demands of their personal lives while fulfilling their educational goals,”  Whitacre added. “We also want to meet the needs of the local employers and as we grow and develop more programs, I’m sure we will see a lot more happening in the technology field.”
     
     
    Making the Most of Technology
     
    Pacifica Graduate Institute, an accredited graduate school offering Masters and Doctoral degree programs framed in the traditions of Depth Psychology, is benefiting from the innovations in technology. Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., Chancellor and Founding President, sees the role technology plays in therapy and academic settings expanding.
     
    “As tech becomes increasingly omnipresent, particularly in terms of online connectivity, the question becomes what happens to a person’s emotional life,”  Dr. Aizenstat said. “How can we navigate a technological world in a way that promotes a sense of well-being? That is the next level of our evolution, and here in the field of depth psychology, we are uniquely placed to address those changes.”
     
    Dr. Aizenstat is traveling internationally in the coming months and speaking on the topic of psychology, in addition to technology and ecology. He’s also working with people in tech to pair them with professionals in the field of depth psychology, and hopes by working together, they can determine how to make the most of technological advances, while getting young people reengaged with themselves and their peer groups.
     
    Joseph Cambray, Ph.D., CEO-President and Provost at Pacifica, feels that in addition to enhancing the field of psychology, tech is also playing an important role in Pacifica’s curriculum and hybrid programs.
     
    “Our diverse student body has broad national and international representation.  Currently we use a number of technological solutions to augment our classroom teaching, including on-line components.  We are in the process of expanding our capacities to deliver the highest quality education by incorporating the latest advances in technology into a studio setting.”
     
     
    Moving Forward
     
    As the employment landscape continues to change rapidly, it’s a given that many of the students of today will face a much different world than we live in now. But as businesses and educational institutions move forward to collaborate and develop programs and curriculum around applied learning, STEM integration, and innovation in the classroom, students in Carpinteria will continue to thrive and move into successful careers.
     
    Joseph Cambray, Ph.D., stated that, “Throughout the recent disasters which struck our community, Pacifica Graduate Institute was able to minimize any disruptions to our students’ education through the implementation of technological solutions.  These include virtual classrooms which have supplemented the use of off-site locations during the Thomas fire, the mudslides and their aftermath.  While the tragedies of these disasters cannot be mitigated, the use of hi-tech to provide continuity of education has proven essential to accelerating recovery.”
     
     
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