Innovative Academic Programs for all students
Posted on 10/24/2022
Mondays with Maria Cover Image



Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hello, I'm Dr. Maria Vazquez, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools and this is Mondays with Maria.

Nancy Alvarez: Hi everybody, I'm Nancy Alvarez.

Jamie Holmes: And I'm Jamie Holmes.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Today, I want to talk about a question I've been asked several times over the last few months. What is new this year? Well, I'm happy to announce that we are reimagining our schools. Helping our students expand their knowledge of all of the various innovative pathways available to them right here in OCPS. Like our career and technical education programs.

Jamie Holmes: I got to see that firsthand by a training seminar that you have for teachers in Orange County on artificial intelligence. And you know, it sounds so science fiction, but we use it all the time.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Exactly. Programs that are focused on high demand, high wage fields.

Nancy Alvarez: A couple of other industries include advanced manufacturing as we know, and of course licensed practical nursing. We have a nursing shortage. Yes we do. Those may seem obvious, post pandemic of course, but how do you look into the future of our local economy here and know exactly what's needed?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Our team works with our local industry partners and to do forecasting so we know what jobs are are in the future.

Jamie Holmes: So that's a great plan for the students in high school. Right there, you know, the day after they graduate, they're gonna either going off to college or looking for a job in those fields. What about elementary and middle schoolers?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Yeah. For our younger students, those opportunities are going to come through career focused clubs, shark tank competitions, financial literacy and opportunities for them to participate in project based learning activities focused on career exploration.

Nancy Alvarez: We need to get in there and teach 'em how to be news anchors.

Jamie Holmes: Oh, what a great idea. Yeah.

Nancy Alvarez: All of this sounds like it's gonna need more industry partnerships of course, right?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Oh, absolutely. The goal is for us to have enough of these partnerships so that our students are able to move into these high demand, high wage jobs right after uh, they graduate. And so we are currently working on expanding those partnerships and increasing the number of opportunities our students have for internships.

Jamie Holmes: I think that's really important too. Particularly in this town and in central Florida, because these are jobs where you can go to a Lockheed Martin, you can go to a Disney, you can go to a Universal. These skills are translatable. I was a little offended though because they wanted me to do the artificial intelligence story and I think they were talking about me with artificial intelligence...

Nancy Alvarez: I'm sure they were.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Well we are looking to expand our advisory council that is for specific sectors so that they are able to support the programs who in turn directly assist our students.

Nancy Alvarez: Well this is so exciting and we first started these conversations. We talked about this being a new era right. For OCPS and it really feels that way and we can't wait for the next update on how these programs are going cuz we're gonna cover it every step of the way.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Yes, we will. Thank you all for watching. We are going to continue these conversations and much more. Remember to look for the thought exchange emails and on our social media channels. I want everyone to be part of our conversations.

Jamie Holmes: And of course, stay tuned for another episode of Mondays with Maria next week. You did a whole Spanish language thing without me.

Nancy Alvarez: We did. It was, we did much Better without you actually.

Jamie Holmes: Shocking. If you have a question or topic for Mondays with Maria, you can submit it on thought exchange at the link that is now on your screen.