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LEARNING OUTSIDE THE BOX: Tech Prep forms partnerships between students and businesses

20120615 Mission-Consolidated-Independent-School-District-teacher-Rene-Pena-featureMISSION—When a high school student has an opportunity to shadow a professional it can change his life. When a teacher or school counselor does it, it can change 100 lives, said Tech Prep of the Rio Grande Valley Executive Director Pat Bubb.

Tech Prep is an organization that creates partnerships between school districts and employers throughout the region to help high school students learn real-world skills while earning transferable college credits, which allows high school students a head start on their future.

Here’s how it works: Tech Prep of the Rio Grande Valley has formed partnerships with schools districts, businesses and community members from Port Isabel to La Joya and in between.

Students enrolled in Tech Prep have the opportunity to go on field trips, to career fairs and to participate in job shadowing while earning credits toward a local community college, all while they are in high school.

Rene Capistran, president of Spaw Glass and Tech Prep executive board member, sums up why the program is valuable in Tech Prep’s 2012 Annual Report.

“Tech Prep creates opportunities for business people to communicate with today’s students,” he said. “In turn, through Tech Prep, students can discover what field they want to work in and then acquire the academic and technical skills to reach their career and life objectives.”

However, Tech Prep also provides an avenue for teachers to get out in the workforce and learn more about the business community.

“A lot of times, and it’s a vast over generalization to make a blanket statement about any group of people, but teachers have gone from being students at high school to college and coming back to high school. So getting out in the industry gives a different perspective on it,” Bubb said.

That in turn, helps educators more effectively create lesson plans and strategies to prepare young people for life in the real world, she said.

Tech Prep programs of study are graduation plans showing students how they can blend articulated courses with dual credit and/or other high school college credit programs—both career technical and academic—to maximize their head start on a college degree, Tech Prep’s Annual 2012 report says.

The organization has been quite successful in the Rio Grande Valley, but it’s also a national program. In the Lower and Upper Valley, Tech Prep has 454 articulation agreements distributed among 28 school districts, two community colleges and one technical college. These agreements include 22 programs that cover 13 out of the 16 program career clusters designated by the state.

The program also saves students and families money as well as time, Bubb said. Tech Prep collects information annually from its three member colleges about articulated and dual credits awarded to students. For 2009, the total dollar savings were nearly $9.2 million, or an average savings of $730 per student.

Tech Prep in the Rio Grande Valley partners with South Texas College, Texas State Technical College and the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College.

The organization has been around since 1992 and it works so well because of the people it involves.

“The real role that our organization plays,” said Bubb. “Is bringing people together. We’re like project managers. And everybody that I have met—100 percent of the people I’ve met who work in education—are there because they care.”

For more information on Tech Prep visit www.techpreprgv.com or call 956-364-4509.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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