Meet Terri Waller, Employer Partnership Coordinator with WCCUSD

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What is the Career Pathways Program?

The Career Pathways program prepares students attending schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) for careers in the following sectors: Engineering, Law, Health, Performing Arts, IT, and Media and Communications. Students in the program can choose from 15 different career academies that fall into one of those sectors, which offer both high quality jobs and local employment opportunities within the region.

How do the Pathways better prepare students to enter the workforce?

The Career Pathways help build a bridge between the curriculum we teach students and the skills desired by local employers to make sure there is true alignment. At WCCUSD, the employer’s voice matters which is why we partner with them from the very start. The more we understand their perspective, the more we’re able to prepare our students for the workforce. Our graduates emerge as well-rounded individuals with strong academic backgrounds and are prepared to succeed in the workforce.

Tell us more about the relationship between the employer community and the school district.

Through advisory boards, employers help WCCUSD understand the current trends in their industry, enabling us to teach both the technical and essential, transferrable skills, needed to succeed. As an example, strong chemistry skills are just as critical as being a good listener or a creative thinker. Additionally, employers come to class as guest speakers and host job shadow days, among other things.

Tell us about the summer internships.

Every summer, Pathway students are able to participate in project-based internships. As part of the program, WCCUSD trains students on work readiness skills, such as effective communication, collaboration and teamwork. Being able to show up on time and be respectful are the skills that employers are interested in. Students emerge from the internship program with a better understanding not only of their career pathway, but what it means to hold a job.

Why is education important to you?

I grew up in a family that did not place a high value on education and as a result, I stopped attending high school after the 11th grade. I had a promising career in retail, but realized that education was the missing piece I needed to take that next step. I am a firm believer that the more opportunities we give young people and help them visualize their future at an early age, the quicker they will be able to get on to the right path.

What do you like to do in Richmond?

Richmond has the best shoreline anywhere in the Bay Area; I spend a lot of time hiking the shoreline along the bay. It’s a pretty spectacular spot and is always full of people, showing off the incredible diversity of the East Bay. And like most community members, Salute e Vita Ristorante is one of my favorite places to go, the food is delicious!

What has it been like to have Chevron as a Career Pathways program partner?

Chevron has long time been a partner of WCCUSD. While financial contributions are always helpful, we really value the amount of time that Chevron employees invest in our students, lending their expertise and advice. You can always call Chevron and know there will be a crew of people that answer your call – that is an enormous gift to our community. We’re proud to be a part of Chevron’s commitment to building a local workforce that is ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

 

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