When I first heard about PCCAPS I was fascinated that this program would focus on the realities of doing business. As a local business owner, I have had several high school interns. Generally, the internships have been negative experiences. The primary problem, as you might expect, is a general lack of experience in dealing with clients, co-workers and the work environment. Dependability has been a huge issue. These are skills which the students may learn during an internship, but likely will not.
Internships, which take place in a place of business, do not lend themselves well to teaching what should be fundamental workplace skills. Unfortunately, in most cases, the students have never been taught, or had the opportunity to practice, these skills. Traditional curriculums generally do have the time to teach such "abstract" concepts.
When I interview potential employees, I am astounded at the very low level of workplace skills even well educated applicants bring to the table. In short, many people are "short-changed" by the educational process -- at many levels, certainly not just the high school level. PCCAPS has identified that the lack of these critical skills is major barrier to future success and begun to address it directly. It is a huge step in the right direction!
For a first-year program the PCCAPS team is doing an extraordinary job. I want to recognize and thank the teachers and the many community volunteers who share their extensive experience with the PCCAPS students. Of course the students are bright and motivated but there is something more going on here. In the course of a PCCAPS project, students get lessons that go far beyond the scope of their assigned projects. The simplest things are emphasized from day one. PCCAPS students learn about the way business is done. They get lessons in appearance, presentation, communication and accountability. Challenging assignments teach the students to think both as individuals and as part of a team. These are things that are very difficult to learn in the "traditional" classroom even at the university level. In short we are teaching skills that translate directly to future success.
I would also like to thank the School Board for having the vision and courage to innovate. As a Board, you have to answer to many constituencies. I know that it is difficult to bring new, non-traditional ideas to fruition. I hope you continue to give your complete support to this exciting program. In my limited time volunteering with PCCAPS I have been very impressed with both the level of commitment and the results. Like any new program, there will be changes and improvements going forward. Fortunately, it seems that the leadership team is very focused on quickly adapting the program to provide the best results to the students.
Thank you for your dedication to our kids!