Message from Brandon Jewell | Director of Industry Engagement
“When life gives you lemons, learn to juggle!”
When the shelter-in-place order hit last spring, I admit it was difficult for me to understand how best to do my job, which is to connect teachers and their students to local employers to help young people explore and prepare for career opportunities here in Sonoma County. This is a crucial part of CTE curriculum because it helps students understand the real-world relevance to both the academic and hands-on learning they’re doing in class.
As April 1 rolled around, it was clear that school-community engagement was going to look different than ever before. But CTE Foundation was committed to finding a way to spark students’ interest through engaging opportunities.
I began by recording one-on-one interviews with local employers to help students explore careers from home. These were a hit for students and teachers, but we at CTE Foundation wanted to do more to actively engage students and allow them to interact with employers.
Over the summer, we conceptualized a year’s worth of virtual activities with a focus on local career opportunities. In October, we partnered with the Sonoma County Economic Development Board, Sonoma County Office of Education and local employers to design five live activities including virtual facility tours, manufacturing demonstrations and panel discussions.
There is no substitute for in-person learning, but we’ve discovered that virtual activities allow us to impact more students per activity than we ever could in person. Instead of a single class with 25 students, hundreds of students can engage with one activity! These virtual experiences provide an opportunity to be live and interactive, but recordings are available on YouTube, allowing students to learn on their own time.
Thanks to partnerships with local employers, these activities are made for and by local people, connecting students to career opportunities in Sonoma County and providing an important distinction between any other videos or learning activities found online.
November is Construction Month and we’ve partnered with the North Coast Builders Exchange to bring more live virtual activities to students. We look forward to bringing teachers and students a full school year of live and interactive virtual activities that offer the unique opportunity to connect with and learn from local employers.
We’d love you to get involved. Reach out to me to learn how you can support these virtual activities. To see all of the past and future activities, visit www.CTESonomaCounty.org/VirtualCCL.
–Brandon Jewell, Director of Industry Engagement, CTE Foundation