Students can explore different career fields, get hands on experience, learn networking skills and develop real world contacts, by participating in innovative programs offered by the Cherry Creek School District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) department.
The district’s SWAP (School to Work Alliance Program), Transitions and BETA (Business & Education Transition Alliance Program) have partnered with business and government organizations to offer educational academies in four career areas; health care, hospitality, construction and information technology. The academies offer students one to 12-week training programs where they gain hands on experience and earn industry certifications, while still in high school and at no cost to the students.
SWAP, Transitions and BETA serve students who face some type of challenge or disadvantage. They may be refugees, have a disability or other special need, or come from a low income family. The goal is to provide an educational opportunity they might not have otherwise.
“It gives them a much better idea of what entry level jobs they can get into to launch their careers,” said BETA teacher Kate Hoilien. “They also get exposure to other jobs they could work toward. It’s a stepping stone to their career.”
The SWAP and BETA programs received a Best Practices Award in September at the Think Big Conference in Vail, which was sponsored by the Colorado Workforce Development Council and the Colorado State Youth Council. The conference allowed staff members from workforce centers around the state to see how they might partner with local school districts to provide similar opportunities for students.
“It’s nice to feel good about what you do,” Hoilien added. “When it’s a great idea, it morphs into more.”