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Education – What Does Work Look Like? 

We want kids to stay in school. We want them to learn the skills that we know they will need to land and hold a job. But faith in this intangible goal of employment, for many kids, is too amorphous, too far removed. Enter the Road Trip: A Journey to Success. This pillar of the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s Destination Graduation initiative is aimed at picking up students as they transition from elementary school to junior high school.

To gather a cohort of students who would benefit from additional support and candid conversations about the soft skills required by employers. Interestingly enough, those critical soft skills parallel character traits ascribed to resilience: Work ethic, perseverance, creativity, leadership, etc. This summer, Road Trip staff took the first cohort of students into the work place as part of an intensive two week launch. They visited DataPath where they saw mission statements artistically rendered on the walls and a congenial, collaborative office environment.

The students donned hair nets and ventured into the working space of Alpine Pacific Nuts to find out just how aligned local agriculture is to local employment. They toured large scale processing plants and a huge cold-storage distribution and linked agricultural yields to local jobs. They realized how the simple coding they had learned the day before parlayed up in an industry that uses the same robotic concepts to move product through harvest to our tables.

The students who routinely see innumerable dairies got to make cheese at the Hilmar Cheese Factory.And through it all, they learned:

  • Caroline wrote: “I could tell that the people who worked at DataPath loved doing what they do because they said they had loved being on computers since they were young.”
  • Alexandra wrote: “Today, I learned that to make your dreams come true you need to learn what is coming and what is going to stop you but to never give up.”
  • Antonio wrote: “We went to the Hilmar Cheese Company and the Alpine Pacific Nut Company. I can see working there because there are machines there and I will need to be a good mechanic so when something breaks, I can fix it.”
  • Belen wrote: “I can see important skills you would need: finish your work, be serious about your job, and don’t be grouchy.”


This first cohort will continue to meet, and the second cohort of students starts its Road Trip the summer of 2016. What might your place of business make apparent to members of the upcoming work force? What lessons about the needs of employers might you be willing to teach? If you are interested in hosting a field trip, we would love to hear from you. Email me at srich@stancoe.org!

By Susan Rich, Assistant Superintendent Administrative, Services Stanislaus County Office of Education

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