Five Premier High Schools in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) have created partnerships to provide its students with opportunities in welding, culinary arts, health science and security.

“We are very pleased that ResponsiveEd has taken an interest in putting these opportunities before our students. Many of our students come to us because we are able to provide them with opportunities they wouldn’t get at their local public school where only the top 30 percent of the class have access to these kinds of programs,” says Carlos Cavazos, ResponsiveEd’s Career & Technical Education (CTE) project manager.

Currently the Pharr, San Juan, Edinburg, Mission and Palmview campuses participate in the welding, culinary arts and security programs. The programs are open to all students as long as they maintain a good attendance record and complete a minimum of two knowledge units a week, which keeps them on track to graduate on time.

All of the programs were specially chosen because they provide the same small and student focused environment that Premier High Schools seek to supply. In these programs, students are not just a number, instead the classes are smaller, which allows students to receive focused attention and build relationships with future mentors.

A partnership with the McAllen Career Institute incorporates a 100 hour program that allows students to take an exam through the American Welding Society free of cost. If they pass the examination they will receive a national welding certification. During the 100

Students have fun welding.

hours, students who excel beyond the welding basics have the chance to advance to an 3F level or further. Currently, 25 students from the various RGV Premier High Schools are participating in the welding program.

“With this certification our students will have open doors for job opportunities. This could actually be a career for our students and not just a temporary job. We even have eight girls in the program and they are very good welders,” explains Cavazos.

Students interested in pursuing a career as a chef or starting their own catering business have the opportunity to develop their skill and knowledge through a partnership with the International Culinary Institute Sugar. After 24 sessions that consist of pastry and baking, international cuisine and a focus on healthy cuisine, students will receive a diploma in culinary arts.

“Already, some of our students in the program have started their own businesses,” Cavazos shares. “They posted photos on social media of some of the dishes and pastries they have created and people have asked if they would take orders. It has really helped our students develop confidence in their own abilities.”

An opportunity to complete a security guard level two certification through the Texas Department of Public Safety is open to all Premier High Schools across Texas. Currently 23 campuses are participating in the 40 hour program provided by the American Surveillance Company.The certification will open up job opportunities and start interested students towards a career in law enforcement.

“With this certification, students can get jobs working security for big events, hospitals, correctional facilities or even in theft recovery for stores like Walmart. Whether students need a job that will help them pay their way through school or they want to pursue a career in law enforcement, this program helps them get the leg-up they need,” says Cavazos.

Students at Premier High School of Edinburg’s CTE Center also have the opportunity to participate in a program to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Through the program they will take classes to expand their knowledge and gain hands-on experience through an internship. 30 students have already completed the program and several of them are working in local hospitals and nursing homes as a CNA or continuing their education to become a registered nurse (RN). There are plans to expand the CNA opportunity to more Premier High School campuses.

“Our students come from all different backgrounds and often need to break the cycle of dependence,” says Cavazos “Our schools can really give them that hope because these opportunities are offered to all students not just those who are at the top of their class.”

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