A model of collective impact through regional partnerships is demonstrating great success for Sahuarita Unified School District. Just two years ago, Dr. Manny Valenzuela first proposed the concept of regional businesses and organizations joining together to provide access to employment for Sahuarita graduates. Local industry identified the skills and knowledge desired for employment, and then worked in partnership with SUSD and Pima Community college to determine how the district could help students attain proficiency in these areas. Three overarching goals emerged: increase the number of college level courses available to students, increase the number of students enrolling in those courses, and increase the ability for teachers to effectively teach those courses.
Over the course of the past two years, much work has been done and substantial funding has been raised in support of these efforts, including intensive teacher training through the National Math and Science Initiative. Kay McLoughlin from one of the supporting companies, Raytheon, explains their commitment to the project: “We’re investing in our own community, and essentially helping to grow our own future employees. And we’re starting to see a return on that investment!”
Dr. Valenzuela reports increased interest from students in STEM related fields, and hopes to continue to develop the NMSI project, and additionally see production of a full career and technical program for Sahuarita. The Industrial Technologies pathway program would be focused on local industry needs such as heavy equipment operation and electrical power transmission. By focusing on empowering their upcoming generation, Sahuarita definitely wins!