The first year of the Pendleton School to Careers Program was a great success and exceeded all expectations.
In May of 2016, the district entered into a contract with Susan Bower of Eastern Oregon Business Source to build the School to Career program and hire its first coordinator, Christina van der Kamp. Part of the Oregon Department of Education Career and Technical Education Grant was used to fund this work. Blue Mountain Community College and Umatilla County provided additional funding to pay for the project management for this innovative public private model.
The Schools to Careers program has been well received and embraced by both students and Pendleton businesses. Over 50 businesses partnered to create 2 successful career days attracting 200+ students. Twenty-three work sites hosted 43 students, in a variety of work related experiences: internships, job shadowing, mentorships and other career exploration opportunities. This equated to over 650 hours logged across the placements. The response from both the businesses and students, at the end of the year, was outstanding with 100% of the business partners and 86% of students having a positive experience with the program.
Stakeholders see the program as an investment in the region’s future workforce. An opportunity for all school districts across Umatilla County to work in a similar public private partnership to enhance their current programing or to build their own will be a focus in the coming months. Milton-Freewater’s McLoughlin High School has signed up to be the second district to build a program through a public private partnership similar to Pendleton’s. The Pendleton School District has contracted to continue working in this model for 2017-2018.
The Pendleton School District has created a program that serves students and employers and its example has inspired other school districts to think about their students’ job readiness. Umatilla County and Eastern Oregon Business Source are pleased to partner to support other school districts and regional employers.