Classrooms to Careers initiative gives Flagler students a leg up in workforce
The Classroom to Careers initiative in the Flagler Schools has, quite literally, given students like Christian Smith wings.
Smith, a senior at Flagler Palm Coast High School, is enrolled in the aeronautical science program the school offers in cooperation with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.
Smith, who is also in the Flagler County Sheriff's Office Explorer program, hopes to go to Embry-Riddle next year with hopes of eventually becoming a police officer, with a pilot's license on the side.
"So you can fly the drones and catch all the bad guys, right?" prompted a smiling Hilary Stevens, the Embry-Riddle instructor who teaches the class he attends daily at FPC.
At tables seated with business, community and school leaders, other Flagler Schools students told similar stories of their interest in certain subjects or career paths being sparked by their participation in the flagship programs offered at each of the district's K-12 schools for the past three years.
The April 6 event, an annual symposium on the Classroom to Careers initiative at the Flagler Schools, provided experiential and data-based documentation of how the program, launched under the direction of Schools Superintendent Jacob Oliva, has grown by leaps and bounds over that time.
Some 8,100 students now take part in Flagler's Flagship Choice Programs on any of the district's campuses, offering everything from agriculture to robotics, to health sciences and fire/emergency training. Much of the support for the initiative comes from the Flagler County Education Foundation, which in 2015-16 contributed $43,758 to the program.
The initiative also succeeds because of its partnerships with regional education institutions, like Embry-Riddle, and area businesses, such as VyStar Credit Union.
At the symposium, Matanzas High School senior Kobi Kane spoke about the invaluable experience she has gained in her two-year internship with VyStar, serving as a student manager.
"I get to handle thousands and thousands of dollars every day," said Kane, who is also a student representative to the Flagler School Board.
From teller services to loan programs, Kane said she has gained on-the-job training in the financial literacy flagship program at Matanzas.
And that is the goal of the program, according to Oliva.
"We truly believe we have a pipeline of talent for our businesses here today," Oliva said at the event.
Collaboration between the schools and business community has proven a win-win for both entities, with results that still may not be truly measured for years.
"We are aligning ourselves with the future development of Flagler County," said Joe Rizzo, executive director of the Flagler County Education Foundation. "We are preparing for a career-ready workforce here."