Half-million dollar grant to expand Career Exploration classes to HUSD middle schools

HEMET — After recently being awarded more than a half-million dollar grant from K12 Strong Workforce to expand its Career Explorations classes for middle school students, Hemet Unified School District officials say they are ready to expand the district’s career focus by adding Career Exploration labs to two more middle schools, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.

Already featured at Rancho Viejo and Dartmouth Middle Schools as of this year, the school district says they will next be expanding the program and offering the career training courses at Diamond Valley and Acacia Middle Schools.


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“Over the last few years, HUSD has been working diligently to provide an increase in the number of offerings for its career-focused classes,” Hemet Unified School District spokeswoman Alexandrea Sponheim explained to RCNS today; saying a lot of thought and work went into expanding the program to include middle school students.

“Staff wanted to make sure they were adding pathways that met the needs of local workforce demands and provide living wages,” Sponheim said of the soon-to-be expanded programs. “In addition, they wanted to make sure that pathways were aligned from middle school through the community college level.”

“It’s better than other classes because you can find out what you want to do and if you actually like what you are working on you can see what colleges there are for you to go to,” Career Explorations student Jasmin Cadena recently said of the district’s Career Exploration labs. HUSD photo

“This means that our students will be able to attend one of our local community colleges and pursue a certificate in the career field they are interested in and be a worthy candidate for businesses looking to hire,” said Sponheim.

Explaining how the Career Exploration labs work and how important the classes are for students, Sponheim said, “At the high school level, we already offer Career Technical Education (CTE) pathways, which allow students to take classes that provide in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in a particular career field.”

“At the beginning of a CTE pathway, students learn about the field and its many intricacies,” Sponheim explained. “Next, students are able to utilize what they have learned and work on hands-on activities to further their comprehension. Finally, students are partnered with a local business that is in this field and they intern gaining real-world experience in the industry.”

“Career Explorations allow students to attend three-week modules learning about various career fields and completing hands-on projects based on their learnings of each field,” Sponheim continued. “At the end of each module, students are able to research the type of schooling needed for that career and they can begin to plan for life after high school.”

“The Secondary Education Department and College and Career Department identified that the expansion of CTE in our middle school would be highly beneficial to our students,” Sponheim told RCNS. “By expanding to middle school, students are now thinking about their future and different career paths they would like to pursue. They are then able to enter into high school with a better idea of what classes they should add to their schedule.”


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Students who have already enrolled and particpated in the CTE courses and Career Exploration labs seem to agree with the program’s value.

Career Explorations student Jasmin Cadena explained why she believed the courses were so important for students beginning in middle school, saying, “It’s better than other classes because you can find out what you want to do and if you actually like what you are working on you can see what colleges there are for you to go to.”

“Hemet Unified is working to ensure our students are prepared for life after their K-12 education,” Sponheim concluded. “Whether a student is focused on furthering their education or entering immediately into the workforce, we want them to have the skills necessary to be successful and earn a living wage.”

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HUSD contributed to this story.

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.

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