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PUSD hosts unique Pathway visit
Porterville Unified recipient of pilot program grant
Impressive was just one of the words heard again and again Thursday as dozens of school district and county education office administrators and program directors, along with ConnectEd and partners, visited Pathway programs of the Porterville Unified School District — a recipient of California’s AB 790 Linked Learning Pilot Program grant.
“We’ll be serving as a mentor district for Tulare/Kings County and six other areas on how to implement a Pathway program,” said Cynthia Brown, director Student Pathways. “It’s very exciting to get this opportunity. We’re in motion to begin planning. We had the kickoff two weeks ago and are now writing a game plan.”
Part of that game plan included Thursday’s visit.
The visiting group began the day at Granite Hills High School to learn, and see first hand, what PUSD is doing.
District and community leaders shared lessons learned and strategies for creating the structures, policies and routine practices that are in place to form the infrastructure of the Linked Learning Pathways system in Porterville — nine open-choice academies that includes everything from digital design and communication, law and justice, engineering, performing art, multimedia and technology, environmental science, finance, health services and emerging agricultural technology.
“I like the number of Pathway options and that kids can have a good choice of what they want to do,” said Carl Hampton, special programs coordinator, Chino Valley Unified School District. “The community involvement is fantastic.”
Hampton, along with an approximate 20 others from out of the area spent time in the school’s gymnasium, observing, and participating, in the Law and Justice Pathway project “Murder in the mini-gym.”
At the algebra/geometry station, students had Hampton walk across the gymnasium over several measured feet of space — one of the tests to help the students determine who might be potential suspects in the murder mystery.
By measuring the footprints from that stride length, the height of the person can be determined, said sophomore Kaylee Murillo. The height was then graphed on a chart. The math, Murillo said, helps pinpoint the height of the suspect and time of death.
“We have a formula we use. We plug in the numbers and that gives us the time of death,” Murillo said as she explained all that was happening in the gymnasium. “We’re offering a rundown of what our program is. At the crime scene, we’re collecting evidence. At language arts, they are learning how to write notes, and in science, they are analyzing the evidence.”
In addition, other stations talked about the program in general or highlighted some of the students participation at Pebble Beach and other activities and programs.
The day provided an opportunity to take a closer look at Porterville and San Bernardino, said Darrell Parsons, education programs consultant to the California Department of Education.
“This is a golden opportunity to talk to and see how Porterville Unified is doing,” Parsons said.
Parsons praised the PUSD Pathways program, as did Roman Stearns, director, leadership developer, ConnectEd.
“Out of all the other districts, Porterville is out in front, leading the way,” Stearns said, adding that the support across the board from instructors and businesses to district officials and the school board, keeps the program moving forward and he does not believe anything will regress it. “Porterville Unified is the only district I can say this about.”
Parsons said he was excited the San Bernardino teams were present, getting a sense of where they can be in three to five years.
Debra Mustain, coordinator, education support services division of San Bernardino County, agreed and said the opportunity to interact through mutual work with Connect Ed, combined with the quality of people involved in the Pathways in Porterville, is in line with what they want to do collectively in San Bernardino.
“It’s better to train local folk. We all in San Bernardino recognize the need to do that to bring everyone together for the college and career advancement of our students,” she said.
The group toured Porterville High School programs in the afternoon, learning about the business, health and renewable energy academies.
An interactive lunch followed, with desserts made and served by culinary arts students.
Before leaving for the day, the district teams debriefed and discussed what they might be able to use in their own planning. They also shared ideas they planned to take back to their schools and districts.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.