A unique partnership between the Socorro Independent School District Community Education and Career and Technical Education departments has been garnering widespread attention for the success and opportunities it is bringing for adult students and the local workforce.
In the summer, the innovative program was showcased in two videos produced by Creative Cannon for Amarillo Community College, who is the Texas Peer Mentor Network program representative, at the Ability to Benefit and Leveraged Funding Conference in Austin.
Prior to that statewide attention, SISD Community Education director Anthony Fraga and Career and Technical Education director George Thomas earned national acclaim as they met with the assistant secretary for career, technical, and adult education in the U.S. Department of Education and provided testimony for congressional representatives in February in Washington D.C.
In addition, most recently, the SISD Community Education department earned the 2019 Best of El Paso Award in the Adult Education School category by the El Paso Award program. The program identifies companies and organizations that achieve exceptional marketing success in local business communities and provides extraordinary service to their customers and community.
SISD’s Community Education and CTE collaboration with the Integrated Education and Training program is being lauded as a model for how other districts and communities can integrate existing funds and resources to benefit both students and employers. The successful program is focusing on increasing the skills of workers to meet the needs of the workforce.
SISD Community Education director Anthony Fraga initiated the innovative model in 2015, when the district started offering courses for adult learners in various fields being taught by instructors from SISD’s CTE program.
Students enrolled in the district’s Integrated Education and Training program can take free courses to pursue training and earn certifications in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); electrician pre-apprenticeship, computer repair and maintenance; security services; office administration; hotel/ hospitality. New pharmacy technician and dental assistant programs were implemented this school year, and the district is pursuing the addition of a CDL school bus driver certification program.
Since the inception of the program, demand for the courses has increased steadily with the department greatly exceeding their state target of 76 students for the IET program. Last year, the department served 184 adult students in IET easily more than doubling that target.
The SISD Community Education enrollment total to date is 598 of which 70 students are in the IET vocational program this school year.
“Since receiving state and national notoriety, Mr. Thomas and I have been invited to present at national and state conferences, with the goal of inspiring other school districts to develop partnerships between their Adult Basic Education programs and their CTE programs,” Fraga said.
SISD Community Education staff members have been selected to serve on key local, regional and statewide boards, including the local Borderplex Workforce Development Board, State Advisory Council for Adult Education, State Advisory Council for Student Assessment, and state-sponsored leadership education training using the Baldrige Method. One of their teachers also was named the 2018 Texas Association for Literacy and Adult Education Teacher of the Year.
In addition, the community education and CTE staff were invited to present at the National Council on Workforce Education, Texas Workforce Commission State Conference, National Adult Education (COABE) in New Orleans, SXSW.EDU conference, and the National Skills Summit in Washington D.C. They also have coached other school districts through the Education Service Center Region 2 in Corpus Christi.
Thomas said the partnership was a natural for Team SISD, where departments regularly work together to solve problems and develop systems to better serve the community.
As part of SISD’s commitment to highly prepare students for college and career success, the CTE program invests significantly in teacher training, equipment and software through the federal Carl Perkins grant and other state and local funds. The federal government has encouraged federally funded programs to work together to support the training of the local workforces, which Team SISD has enthusiastically embraced.
“SISD CTE and community education have become the poster representatives of this federal initiative by using our trained teachers within their classrooms to support the community education evening career programs,” Thomas said.
The SISD collaboration allows the adult education program to benefit from the CTE resources, such as teachers, labs, and equipment, to provide the certification training at a lower cost with a higher student success outcome.
Adult students interested in enrolling in the free program may call (915) 937-1700.
Watch the Amarillo Community College/Texas Peer Mentor Network videos created by Creative Canon, featuring SISD Community Education and Career and Technical Education: