The World of Work (WOW): Students Aligning Careers with Education
The Cajon Valley Union School District’s vision is "Happy Kids, Engaged in Healthy Relationships, on a Path to Gainful Employment," and that is how the World of Work initiative started. “The current national and state curriculum frameworks, standards, curriculum, and policies did not align with our vision,” says District's Superintendent, Dr. David Miyashiro.
Miyashiro received the Superintendent of the Year 2016 award by the ACSA Region 18. Two years later, the CA State Board of Education appointed him as Co-chair Computer Science Education Implementation. He wrote an open letter to the State Board following 18 months of frustration working with the CA Department of Education in hopes to return relevance to the K-12 system.
He concentrated on this idea: kids who have self-awareness, self-esteem, interpersonal and social-emotional skills and succeed in school and life. Systematic career development is beneficial for students. At the same time, the students develop strong relationships with peers and adult mentors, a deep understanding of their strengths, interests, and values. “We believe kids who align their interests with the ever-changing world of work and opportunities therein will grow into ‘Happy Adults, Engaged in Healthy Relationships, Gainfully Employed’ - The American Dream for Every Child,” illuminates Dr. David Miyashiro.
Miyashiro visited a Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab where he spoke with Ed Hidalgo. Ed and his team were introducing students to World of Work (WOW). Hidalgo recalls, “Based on that experience he asked if we could design a systemic approach to deploying the World of Work for every child in every grade in the CVUSD school district.”
The innovative program was something the governing board, and local business leaders supported and wanted to see for their community. “The biggest initial challenge was that World of Work didn't exist yet,” explains Miyashiro. “Building from scratch and investing millions of taxpayer dollars into basically... an idea... well, was a huge risk. We invested the better half of two years working with our Governing Board, community, staff, and stakeholder groups to educate them on the misalignment of our current system.”
Hidalgo left Qualcomm and worked a year at the University of San Diego. He developed the theory of change and theory of action centered on a long-standing and popular occupational theory program called RIASEC (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional). “This led to my full-time employment in Cajon Valley supporting the continued development and deployment of WOW for our students, teachers, and families,” explains Hidalgo, who is now the Chief Innovation and Engagement Officer for the school district.
By starting with the local Government Officials, Chamber of Commerce, First Responders, and business owners, WOW had immediate support of the community. “Each harbored a strong feeling that the K-12 system and its ‘college for all’ mentality had created a huge gap in the workforce and stigmatized a lot of the most important work or workers needed in the community both locally and abroad,” explains Miyashiro. “We are still working through the challenge of our teaching force that is holding on to the status quo and is fearful of the shift or change.”
The school district is pleased and engaged with the results of WOW. “The community has embraced and joined the movement to help us achieve our vision of happy kids, engaged in healthy relationships, on a path to gainful employment,” confirms Miyashiro.
In one of their videos, Hidalgo describes the program as “a career development framework for every child, every grade. We're helping every child discover who they are, what they like to do, and where they like to do it so they can get excited about their unique talents and connect those talents to the future.”
The program connects industry and education to inspire students to learn their career options, and the chance to learn what careers suit them best by experiencing firsthand their potential career.
How It Works
The WOW program is a three-core process where each student applies themselves as a “Mission of Me.” They begin with a self-awareness step where they learn their strengths, interests, and values. Then, they explore the world of work and their academic options. Once they learn, apply, and experience different types of jobs in the workplace, they tell their unique story based on their experience, education, and skills.
The program implements the three-core process through four levels of integration, so they fully capture and apply the “Mission of Me.”
Level One: Each child explores various careers and industries.
Level Two: They get to simulate the workplace that interests them. Students engage in classroom mockups that involve their skills and the workplace values required to work in the jobs.
Level Three: They meet professionals and experts. They come to the classroom in person or virtually through WOW’s vendor Nepris. Working with Nepris, students virtually visit with professionals live from anywhere in the world without ever leaving the classroom. Using Nepris technology, students in rural areas can connect to professionals via Skype or other virtual platforms. The professionals show them their workplace, how they get their work done and answer any questions.
Level Four: Students practice by demonstrating their new knowledge skills and abilities gained during levels one, two, and three. They explore and apply all they learned from the levels in their classrooms with access to the professionals or experts from Level Three. They know why they are in school, and understand why they want to do well in school. They learn with the workplace integrated into the classroom curriculum.
Hidalgo says it is hard to estimate how many students are impacted by the program. “We've had more than 41,000 students participate in Live Industry Chats using our Nepris partnership and our SanDiegoCounty.nepris.com landing page. I'm guessing more than 27,000 students overall have experienced the World of Work initiative in their classrooms, but it's probably more than that.”
Classrooms visit a local business or, with the Nepris program, connect to a global network of industry experts. They engage with industry professionals in the classroom via video conferencing. Even as early as kindergarten and first grade, the connection is available.
Some examples of Level 3, Meet a Pro:
Ranger Kyle from San Diego Parks and Recreation.
Chef Rob Conaway - a former Cajon Valley student, all the way from China to show the students his cooking techniques.
Cafe Le Groom showed students, using virtual media, what it is like to be a pet groomer.
The first graders visited Jasmine Creek Florist where they observed what a florist does for a living.
Other school districts are interested in the program, so CVUSD is offering support and helping them implement their own WOW program. “Educational Technology is the vehicle that allows us to take our kids anywhere without limitation. The World of Work and all of our modern curricula are ubiquitous and accessible 24/7 to all of our teachers and students thanks to digital convergence and the technology platforms we deploy,” concludes Miyashiro.