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Fall 2015
Stanley C. Mantooth, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools
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Imagine having the opportunity to design, build and fly a drone while you're still in high school. Imagine learning marketable skills like nursing, mobile application development and welding before you even graduate. Imagine having a chance to dine and network with local business leaders to build career contacts. All of these things and more are happening today in Ventura County because of a growing commitment to Career and Technical Education. 
The options for Ventura County students to acquire real-world skills that will help them prepare for career and college are about to expand tremendously thanks to a major infusion of state funding and an unprecedented level of coordination between local school districts, businesses and nonprofits. In this edition of Focus on Education, we're proud to show you some of the exciting ways career education is transforming lives and building bright futures for Ventura County's students.
Stan Mantooth
Ventura County Superintendent of Schools

$30 Million to Transform Career Education in Ventura County
The good news for the effort to expand and modernize career education in Ventura County started last year when the California Department of Education awarded the county a $13.2 million Career Pathways Trust Grant. In partnership with the Ventura County Community College District, the Ventura County Office of Education put the money to work by creating VC Innovates to develop new career education options for high school students. At the same time, the Oxnard Union High School District received its own $6 million career education grant. Then, in May of this year, VCOE learned it had received an additional $10.2 million dollar grant that will bring career education to middle school students and students with special needs. 
Growing a Local Workforce
Winning the grants was just the beginning. Through VC Innovates, VCOE is now building dozens of career "pathways" that align coursework with the jobs that local employers need to fill today and in the future. A team of industry liaisons is working closely with local businesses in sectors like healthcare, agriculture and technology to teach skills future workers will need. "Some of the jobs aren't actually here right now, but they're going to be here," said VCOE Career Education Director Dr. Tiffany Morse. "We operate on that Wayne Gretzky quote, which is to 'go where the puck is going to be, not to where it is.' " 

"The drone program is a perfect example and video game animation and design is another one," said Dr. Roger Rice, VCOE's Deputy Superintendent of Student Services. "We're replacing some of the programs that didn't align to career pathways and didn't lead to high wage jobs with programs that are compelling to kids and tightly aligned to the job market demands in the county."
Rethinking Career Education
In the past, career education programs were primarily aimed at students who didn't see college in their future, but that's no longer the case. Today's career education programs offer college-bound students a leg up in their career pursuits both during college and after they graduate. With the majority of college students working while earning their degree, having marketable skills right out of high school is a big advantage. "You can learn skills that will help you get a much better paying job while you're in college," said Dr. Morse. "And it will help you decide what you want to study in college. You'll have a better idea of what you are and are not interested in." 
Career education courses underway this school year include video game development, dental assisting, aviation, auto body and more. For a complete list, see the VCOE Career Education Center (CEC) course catalog.

Drone Class Preps Students for an Industry that's Taking Off
For Ventura High School Student Franklin Hansen, finding out he could take a course about building and flying drones was a dream come true. "I thought that's right up my alley because I'm really into mechanics and computers and aviation," he said. Hansen was among the first students to sign up for the drone class offered by VCOE's Career Education Center beginning last year.

Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, these remotely controlled aircraft have a wide range of uses ranging from military and law enforcement to agriculture and video production. AUVSI, an industry trade group, estimates UAVs will generate more than 100,000 new jobs and have an economic impact of $82 billion through 2025.
In the cockpit of this new frontier in education is Alan Jaeger, who is also a faculty member of the Naval Postgraduate School. He teaches students at the Career Education Center to design, build and fly drones and gives them an understanding of the risks and regulations surrounding air space and radio transmitters. "To the best of my knowledge this was the first program that was developed and delivered exclusively for high school students in career education as a yearlong comprehensive program," he said.
The demand for employees with UAV skills is expected to grow in Ventura County thanks to the Navy and high-tech companies such as ERI in Camarillo and AeroVironment in Simi Valley. Jaeger said the CEC's UAV course gives students a real head start. "So when they go into a job interview, they're going to have an understanding what UAVs are and have hands-on experience with the technology and a well-rounded perspective of the industry."
Hansen hopes to find a career that combines his love of UAV technology with his passion for the environment. "There are some researchers who use drones to count birds on islands so they don't have to disturb the natural habitat. They can fly them over the nesting grounds and count how many chicks and eggs and nests there are on the island and it's really cool.
The Channel Islands Chapter of AUVSI will be holding its 2nd annual symposium on October 23 and students are invited to attend for free. 

Navy Partners with VCOE to Build Future Workforce
With nearly 20,000 military and civilian positions, Naval Base Ventura County is the county's largest employer. Jobs on the base span specialties that include engineering, finance, information technology and hospitality, but filling all of those openings can be a challenge.
Karen Brower
"We did a lot of hiring trying to keep up with it, but when you hire from colleges that are not in California, the graduates find they can't afford to live here and raise a family, so they tend to turn around and move home," said Karen Brower, a retired Navy engineer who is now a VCOE employee serving as the industry liaison for government at VC Innovates. "So growing them locally is huge to me," she added.
To further that goal, the Ventura County Office of Education has entered into Education Partnership Agreements with the Navy. The partnerships allow the Navy to dedicate personnel and equipment to teaching local students about the jobs that keep the base running. The Navy will provide speakers, offer tours and introduce students to some of the advanced equipment that's housed on the base.
USS Essex
Brower said this type of outreach is a win-win as students get valuable training and the Navy builds a pool of potential employees. "I think it's critical not only to Naval Base Ventura County, but to the Navy as a whole," she said.

The Navy is benefitting from the partnership in other ways. Earlier this year, the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Port Hueneme approached VCOE about an experiment in which an unmanned aerial vehicle would be created from scratch aboard a naval ship using a 3D printer. VCOE's Career Education Center provided the UAV equipment and technical assistance. The experiment was a success, with a quadcopter UAV being printed, assembled and flown aboard the USS Essex. Click here to see a video about the project.

Students Pursue their Passion at Career Education Center
Fernando Roman, Hueneme High School
When Fernando Roman's grandmother was in the hospital, he remembers paying close attention to the nurses who cared for her. "There were some things they did that I liked and some things I didn't like," he said. "So I wanted to see if I could make a difference by going into that career."
When he was a junior at Hueneme High School, Roman's career got a jump start when he discovered the Certified Nurse Assistant program at the VCOE Career Education Center. Through classroom work and an internship at the Victoria Care Center in Ventura, Roman learned that nursing was the career for him. "Honestly, I loved it because it taught me a lot about nursing and it made me want to have a career in that field." Once he graduates, Roman intends to get his nursing degree at CSU Channel Islands and begin a career as a nurse practitioner.
Kerrie Jensen, Thousand Oaks High School
When Kerrie Jensen was a junior at Thousand Oaks High School, it was a fashion merchandising course that drew her to the Career Education Center. "It was really awesome to be able to go to school and take a huge part of my day and make it about something I was really interested in," she said. 
Jensen said she was constantly impressed with the quality of the courses and the dedication of the students. "Everyone seemed driven and excited to be there and it was a really good environment to be working in, especially as a young impressionable high school student," she said.
Jensen ultimately chose to focus on art history and is now taking college courses in Florence, Italy. She said the skills she learned at the CEC have been a tremendous asset. "The most basic and important thing I learned was about my image and how to present myself to possible employers. We learned a lot of good interview skills and how to speak and dress professionally. It was really helpful for interviews I've had and getting jobs in the real world."

Entrée to Employment Dinners Serve Up Taste of Local Careers
Once a month, high school students in Ventura County have a unique opportunity to sit down to dinner with local business and community leaders, breaking bread while picking their brains about potential careers. These Entrée to Employment dinners are presented by VC Innovates and made possible by numerous professionals who volunteer their time to share their expertise. It provides students with a chance to sit down and ask working professionals how they got where they are and what they like about their jobs.
The dinners began last year, and the feedback from participants has been glowing. One student said, "I came looking for information on one career and found so many different ideas and people that it made me want to join every table one more time!"
Each dinner focuses on a different industry sector. Students who would like to attend should contact their school's career pathways teacher or Wendy Trafton at VC Innovates at 805-437-8048 or
Entrée to Employment Dinner Schedule
November 12 Arts/Media/Entertainment
November 18 Education
January 19 Business/Finance & Marketing
February 2 Hospitality
March 1 Healthcare
April 13 Engineering
May 3 Information Technology

New VCOE Website Puts Information at your Fingertips
VCOE is pleased to announce a complete redesign of our website at The new website went live in September and makes it easy to find the information you need about our many programs, services and events. 
The new site also looks great on mobile phones so you can browse with ease when you're away from a computer. We invite you to explore the new website and share your comments and suggestions by emailing VCOE Communications Manager Dave Schermer at

Upcoming Events
VCOE offers an exciting lineup of professional learning events on a variety of current topics. Register for these upcoming events using the links below or browse our complete events calendar.
October 12 Legal Forum - Limiting Suspensions for Willful Defiance: Another First in California
October 16 Emotional Intelligence & Leadership - Pam Robbins presents in our L3 speaker series
October 19 Why Attendance Works - Learn proven strategies to reduce chronic absences
October 21 RtI2 Symposium - Reducing Office Referrals and Suspensions with CHAMPS 
October 22 Fraud Prevention & Ethics Training - Learn critical tools and techniques to protect your school or district from financial crimes
November 14 VEX Robotics Competition - Nothing but Net