Santa Fe Public Schools is redoubling efforts to ensure all students graduate ready for college and careers to help them adapt to seismic shifts in the economy and labor force from the pandemic.

A framework for College, Career and Technical Education, initiated by the Board of Education and presented at a fall study session, is based on these guiding principles:

u Continue to build on career pathways that make secondary education more engaging and relevant.

u Bring the classroom into the community through work-based learning: job shadowing, mentorships and internships.

u Expand college dual credit opportunities that are aligned to pathways.

The work plan for this initiative is ambitious and imperative.

It begins with generating an asset map by collecting critical information from all stakeholders.

Surveys and focus groups of students, teachers and families will be used to determine interest in current and potential CCTE programs.

Employers’ opinions will be solicited to determine current and future workforce skills, knowledge and soft skills. Research will be compiled to chart future employment growth industries, including wages and salaries.

Another key component of the work plan is hiring a district work-based learning coordinator.

The coordinator will provide consistency in procedures and serve as a liaison to the business and higher education communities.

In addition, the work plan expands career counseling at the high schools and career exploration at the middle schools.

This will help high school students better understand their options for dual credit college courses linked to potential careers. The framework is grounded in what district graduates have shared about the factors contributing to their career success.

Marcos Portillo, a 2019 Early College Opportunities graduate of the automotive pathway who works as a local auto body technician at CF Collision, attributes his success to the internships he had in high school that lead to a permanent job.

He gives the most credit to automotive teacher Chris Coriz and his focus on hands-on learning in the shop. “He made sure what we were learning in class was engaging,” Marcos said.

Alyssa Glaze-Reyes, a 2013 graduate of the biomedical pathway at Capital High School who works as a supervising nurse at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Albuquerque, said working with the Scrub Club summer camp was a transforming experience, along with an internship in a hospital emergency room.

By far the biggest influence were her biomedical teachers Natalie Garcia and Stephanie Gurule-Leyba.

“They were very strict in a caring way. They were able to show us how to learn more hands on, especially in the lab,” she said.

Attending science and engineering summer camps at a young age helped spark an interest in engineering for Ursula Vold, a 2015 Santa Fe High School graduate of the engineering pathway who is a systems engineer at Lockheed Martin in Denver.

High school classes in advanced calculus and computer-aided design gave her an advantage in college. But her teachers “were the biggest part, to be honest,” she said.

She emphasized that a huge driver in her success was engineering teacher Dave Forester allowing her and her classmates the space to create their own projects. From their vantage point now as members of the workforce, their advice to advance college, career and technical education is to encourage students to be open to trying new skills, provide more resources for project-based learning and give students more real world experiences.

The clear challenge for all who care about public schools, higher education and our community is to create strong partnerships to ensure every student — just like Marcos, Alyssa and Ursula — can pursue their passions in high school to graduate college and career ready.

Mary Massey is director of College and Career Readiness for the Santa Fe Public Schools.

(1) comment

Peter Romero

I don't see the same classes available today as I did 35 years ago. Welding, shop, home economics and art. The skills I learned then are still with me today. I didn't learn them after high school. I learned them in Jr. high and high school. Ask a kid today to figure out (without the internet) board feet or how to mix paint or how to weld or braze steel or to cook something from scratch. these are all lost in our education system. I agree we must prepare our children for college, but we must also prepare those that won't go to college for the work force.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.