P-20: Promoting College and Career Readiness in Central Texas

By Fred Hills

Preparing local students for successful journey through school and college to careers is critical to the well-being and growth of our community. Started 8 years ago, the HOT P-20 works to promote streamlined, transparent degree pathways for students to move quickly and successfully through their education and onto college and/or a career.  The Heart of Texas (HOT) P-20 brings together representatives from the independent school districts (ISD), institutions of higher education (IHE), Region 12 Education Service Center, industry and government across six counties: Bosque, Hill, Falls, Limestone, Freestone and McLennan to work towards this goal.  Among the higher education representatives are McLennan Community College, Texas State Technical College, and Hill County with representation from both Tarleton State University, Texas Tech through MCC’s University Center.

The HOT P-20 mission can best be summarized as follows:

  • Collaborating by building cross-community team to address education and career possibilities for all students.
  • Informing our diverse communities about ongoing initiatives, best practices and available resources.
  • Advocating for educational best practices with at the state and local levels.

Some of our ongoing projects include:

  • Academic Vertical Alignment Training and Renewal (AVATAR) program that brings together faculty from the high schools and post-secondary institutions who teach Math, English, College and Technical education, and STEM to discuss differences in instructional techniques and ways to better prepare students for college-level work while in high school.  AVATAR also include high school and college counselors to address ways to better advise students in preparation for their transfer to college and/or a career.
  • Building closer ties between education and industry under our Groundhog Job Shadowing initiative celebrated on February 2 each year promoting job shadowing, internships, externships, career fairs and industry visits.
  • Partnering to support local educational initiatives and programs such on Region 12 ESC’s Connect 3, Teacher’s Gone Tech, Girls in STEM, career fairs, etc.
  • Building collaborative agreements among secondary, post-secondary and industry to offer degree pathways and college preparation courses for students while still in high school.
  • Providing an annual forum on “State of Education in Central Texas” in the Spring to share ongoing educational initiatives and career preparation opportunities.  This year’s event is scheduled for April 20 from 11:30 to 1:30 PM at MCC’s conference center.  All are welcome.
  • Working with Prosper Waco and the Waco Chamber to inform them on ongoing educational initiatives and promote education to career programs.
  • Surveying the community for ways to better serve all partners in this effort.

HOT Regional P-20 operates as a voluntary organization.  For more information on the HOT P-20 and its programs, check out our webpage at http://www.hotp20.org


Dr. Fred Hills is the current president of the HOT P-20 and Dean of Arts, Science and Business at McLennan Community College.  He has worked and lived in the Waco community for over 20 years and has served on the HOT P20 for the last four years.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

Participate in “Groundhog Job Shadow Day” and Help Give a Kid a Chance to Learn about the World of Work

By Christine Holecek

Groundhog Job Shadow Day is a unique initiative dedicated to giving kids job groundhog logoshadowing experiences. Groundhog Job Shadow kick-off day for 2016 will be February 2. On that day we will officially get going started on what we hope will be a spring blooming with job-shadowing opportunities in the Heart of Texas. The idea is to give more of our Waco area students opportunities to “shadow” a workplace mentor as he or she goes through a normal day on the job. This gives the student a chance to get an up-close look at how skills learned in school relate to the workplace.

p-20 logoGroundhog Job Shadow Day is the joint effort of the Heart of Texas P-20 Council, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, Waco Business League, and Prosper Waco. McLennan Community College, Texas State Technical College and school districts in the Heart of Texas Region are also partners promoting this event.

Job Shadowing is a Win-Win situation for all involved. For students it answers the age old question “Why do I have to learn this?” Shadowing demonstrates the importance of academics in reaching college and career goals. Shadowing also motivates students to learn by demonstrating the tangible application of classroom lessons.

For employers, Job Shadowing helps build a future workforce. Shadowing shows students career possibilities in different industries. Also the employee mentors get the feeling of personal satisfaction that comes from mentoring a young person. This opportunity offers a chance to share knowledge and skills and to help a child become a successful adult. Sometimes shadowing even leads to a long-term mentoring relationship.

Whether you are an employer, volunteer or teacher, participating in Groundhog Job Shadow Day is an easy and rewarding experience. Getting involved in Groundhog Job Shadow Day will only take a few hours of your time.

If you are an educator or an employer who would like to get involved, you can contact Christine Holecek at [email protected]. The HOT P-20 has posted some helpful job shadowing documents for you to share at: http://tinyurl.com/zynwu2r

For more information about the HOT P-20 Groundhog Job Shadow Day, please contact [email protected]


Christine HolecekThis Act Locally Waco blog post was written by Christine Holecek. Christine is an Education Specialist at Education Service Center Region 12 in Waco. She has worked in the area of Adult Education and Career & Technical Education for the past 25 years. She earned an AAS degree from MCC, a BAAS and Master’s Degree from the University of North Texas and is currently enrolled in the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Tarleton State University.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

One TSTC for Texas

(The Heart of Texas P-20 Council includes representatives from K-12 education, higher education and employers. They meet regularly to help coordinate efforts to launch our young people into productive lives as workers and citizens. This post is one in a monthly series of posts intended to share information about the work of this important group in our community. For more posts in this series, click here: P-20 education. )

By Rob Wolaver

It is said that progress does not come without change. That’s certainly the case at Texas State Technical College where we are in the midst of change the college hasn’t seen in its 50-year history. The process is all part of a transition to “single accreditation.” It’s a bold move inspired by economic growth and motivated by industry demand for a skilled workforce.

In the past, TSTC’s four legacy campuses, which ran semi-independently under the direction of TSTC System, would get individually accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Now, we’ll be accredited – reviewed for integrity and quality of student learning – as one college.

It may sound simple but as Chancellor Mike Reeser, who has led the efforts, will tell you, this has been, by far, one of TSTC’s greatest challenges, but one which eventually, could prove to be the zenith of our institution’s storied existence. This change will be remembered as a high point that will lay the foundation for the advancement, development and continued success of TSTC.

Already, we have successfully aligned personnel, programs, curriculum and learning outcomes. We now have a statewide course catalog and student handbook. And, we’ve revamped a consumer-friendly website. TSTC, with 11 campuses total, is now one college serving all of Texas.

It has been a demanding endeavor for the 1,715 employees across the state, and while the job is not finished, we’re well on our way. Now, what does this all mean to you and more importantly, what does this all mean to our TSTC students?

For Texans, One TSTC allows the college to standardize operations and eliminate duplications of work associated with separately accredited colleges. Combining resources will set the stage for expansion of instructional services into communities that need skilled workers or specialized training.

For our students, TSTC is better able serve you. The alignment allows us to better improve classrooms and keep our laboratories stocked with the latest industry tools and technology. Imperative, because we are a hands-on technical school with the goal of making sure you are skilled to start work the day you graduate.

For industry and employers, it means you keep getting technically-skilled workers who can hit the ground running. It means we keep meeting with industry leaders, to make sure our students are well prepared for the jobs at hand. It means we keep doing what we’ve always done best – job placement for the state.

For employees, it means that TSTC will continue to be the best place to work. A place dedicated to its mission of student access and success and its even bigger task of making sure Texas has the employees it desperately needs.

For Texas, this means a stronger economy and lower employment. Indicators of prosperity that benefit every proud resident. It means we continue working with state government and elected officials to make sure we are offering the programs that Texas industry needs and the economy demands.

For Waco, it means that TSTC in your community remains the flagship campus for all the college locations. It means that TSTC will continue to be a partner in education with surrounding ISDs as well as institutions like McLennan College and Baylor University.

The transition to single accreditation is further testament to TSTC’s administrative innovation. Just last year TSTC became the only college in Texas to adopt a funding model based entirely on student employment outcomes. Simply put, we’ll get paid when the student gets paid. TSTC as the saying goes, “putting your money where your mouth is.”

Bottom line, we’re not only investing but doubling down on the communities we serve, that includes Waco, Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Ingleside, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Williamson County.

As we continue the alignment process, we look forward to the next half century with optimism that our investment will pay off for our students and employers. Ultimately, we recognize that bold leadership and initiative will set the stage for success and the future prosperity of this great state we all call home.


 

Rob wolaverThis Act Locally Waco blog post was written by Rob Wolaver. Rob began his professional career in 1989 at Tarleton State University and left Tarleton in 1992 to become the director of Student Activities and Housing at Texas State Technical College Waco. In the 24 years at TSTC, Rob has served in many leadership roles including, Associate Vice President, Vice President, Executive Vice President, Interim President, Provost. Rob is also active in his community where is on the board of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Texas and chair of the Lorena Economic Development Council. Wolaver has served the City of Lorena as a City Council member and Mayor Pro-Tem.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVATAR in the Heart of Texas

(The Heart of Texas P-20 Council includes representatives from K-12 education, higher education and employers. They meet regularly to help coordinate efforts to launch our young people into productive lives as workers and citizens. This post is one in a monthly series of posts intended to share information about the work of this important group in our community. For more posts in this series, click here: P-20 education. — ABT)

By Christine Holecek

AVATAR is not just an icon or figure representing a person in a video game and it is not a blue hybrid alien from a movie. AVATAR in the Heart of Texas stands for “Academic Vertical Alignment Training and Renewal.” It is a joint project, now in its third year, organized by the Education Service Center Region 12 (ESC Region 12) and the Heart of Texas P20 Council to bring together local school districts and local colleges to collaborate on high school transition to college.

AVATAR logoYear one looked specifically at High School English Courses (AP and Dual Credit) and expectations for college English courses. Critical conversations were held on the alignment that needs to happen for students to be more successful in college. Great strides were made. For example, high school and college teachers worked together to develop a tool for all teachers to use to grade essays consistently and holistically.

Year two’s project added math to the equation. Representatives from both ELAR (English, Language Arts and Reading) and Math disciplines began discussing the College Preparatory course requirements introduced by House Bill 5 in 2012. These course offerings are now required by the legislature to help students be better prepared to enter college without remediation. High School and College ELAR and Math teachers worked with McLennan Community College (MCC) to develop a course that was made available the fall of 2014. School districts interested in using the college prep course can complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MCC.

A College Prep Course symposium was held in September 2014 to introduce school districts to local college offerings. Representatives from McLennan Community College, Texas State Technical College, Hill College, Temple College, and Central Texas College provided an overview of their new College Prep Courses that provide course content in English/Language Arts and Mathematics. Each college representative answered specific questions related to course design and MOUs. This symposium offered a format that allowed participants to attend one or all of the college overviews.

Year three’s focus brought counselors into the fold. Their discussions about college transition will result in a “Frequently Asked Questions” document about what students need to know as they transition to college. The counselors are continuing their work together with critical conversations around college and career readiness, dual credit courses and college prep courses. They have been meeting once a month (February – May) to discuss trends and issues in college and career readiness. Counselors will also review and critique college and career readiness products: such as the Texas Online College and Career Readiness Resource Center.

Planning for year four has begun. Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers will be asked to contribute expertise into high school endorsement pathways. Six year plans will be created in the areas of Business and Industry, Public Services, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

For more information about the AVATAR program, please contact Christine Holecek [email protected]


Christine HolecekThis Act Locally Waco blog post was written by Christine Holecek. Christine is an Education Specialist at Education Service Center Region 12 in Waco. She has worked in the area of Adult Education and Career & Technical Education for the past 25 years. She earned an AAS degree from MCC, a BAAS and Master’s Degree from the University of North Texas and is currently enrolled in the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Tarleton State University.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.