ROP giving Walnut Valley teens firsthand career experience

Walnut Valley USD knows that experience can be the best teacher. In this regard, the district’s regional occupation program career and technical education courses strive to prepare students for success in college and careers.

The Early Childhood Education ROP course provides valuable firsthand experiences working with local students. Each Wednesday, about 15 Walnut High students spend an hour with transitional kindergarten classes at Vejar Elementary.

The teens partner with the school’s youngest children for mentoring, reading, and enrichment activities.

The new cross-age endeavor has the support of TK teachers Carolyn Campbell and Irene Carter.

“Our students are so excited to see their high school helpers each week,” Campbell said.

The high school students work hard learning about children’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development prior to jumping into the TK environment each week, according to ROP teacher Denise Sandoval.

“These work-based learning programs expose our students to careers they might be interested in,” Sandoval said.

Walnut High senior Isabella Leon plans to pursue child psychology next year in college. Classmate Kelly Choi is interested in the field of child development.

“This is a really good experience for me. It’s giving me insight on what I want to do,” Choi said.

“Our students are graduating empowered with experience and confidence towards their future career goals,” said Candace Marsano of Walnut High’s Career Center.

In addition to these classes, district students use AutoCAD software to produce 3D graphic models in Architecture Design and learn first aid and CPR in Sports Physical Therapy. ROP offers students the opportunity to select from a variety of hands-on courses offered right on their high school campuses.

Specialized classes help build marketable skills, work ethics and job training needed for entry level jobs or transitioning to post-secondary education. District courses are offered through a partnership with the East San Gabriel Valley ROP Technical Center.

“ROP provides students the opportunity to get a head start in their future careers,” Marsano said.

Many classes offer college credits approved by UC colleges and are articulated through Mt. San Antonio College.

Architecture Design students get the chance to design dream pool houses, complete with defined components, functionality and space planning using Revit software. A Sports Medicine Pathway provides exposure through beginning and advanced Sports Physical Therapy and Therapeutic Exercise and Rehabilitation courses.

“I try my best to provide real-life situations such as emergency spine boarding, first aid and CPR, preventative athletic taping, sport injury evaluations and pre/post exercise stretching,” said ROP teacher Nelson Chen.

According to the California Department of Education website: California's 74 Regional Occupational Centers and Programs have been a strong and integral part of California's educational system for more than 40 years. ROCPs provide high school students 16 years of age and older, and also adult students, with valuable career and technical education so students can (1) enter the workforce with skills and competencies to be successful, (2) pursue advanced training in postsecondary educational institutions, or (3) upgrade existing skills and knowledge.

Approximately 470,000 students enroll in ROCPs each year. Students receive training at a variety of venues from regular classrooms on high school campuses to actual businesses and industry facilities, such as automotive dealerships and hospitals.

In addition to the specific skills and comprehensive career education offered, ROCPs also offer employment survival skills in many aspects of a particular industry sector, placement assistance, counseling support services for students. ROCPs fall under one of three distinct organizational structures: (1) school districts participating in a county office of education operated ROCP, (2) school districts participating under a joint powers agreement, or (3) a single school district. ROCPs in California collaborate with public agencies and associations to create and implement important instructional classes and programs. One of the strengths of the ROCP delivery system is that ROCPs work in partnership with local businesses and industries to design and provide programs for industry-based, transferable and portable certification programs based upon job market demand.

For more information, please visit the CDE website at

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