COSTA MESA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--For the first time, Orange County teachers, school counselors and work-based learning coordinators can seamlessly bring business and industry partners – from around the world or down the street – into the classroom virtually and in real-time, thanks to a unique partnership between the OC Pathways initiative and Nepris.
Through Nepris.com, students can engage digitally with business professionals and industry experts to talk about potential careers, work on classroom projects or take virtual tours of modern workplaces through interactive, cloud-based sessions. Teachers simply enter their request into the system, specifying the industry sector, topics and learning outcomes. Nepris automatically matches each request with professionals’ qualifications and hosts the interactive sessions.
The project’s rollout is being funded by OC Pathways, a collaborative, countywide initiative that is working to establish clear career paths for students by linking schools and colleges with businesses and community partners. Led by the Orange County Department of Education and Saddleback College, OC Pathways was established in 2014 through a California Career Pathways Trust grant. It now comprises 14 school districts, nine community colleges, two major universities, four regional occupational programs, three workforce investment boards, numerous community partners and more than 100 businesses.
With OC Pathways’ sponsorship, every K-12 and community college teacher within the collaborative will be granted a Nepris license, potentially reaching more than 5,000 students with a platform that has been successfully implemented since 2013 in schools throughout the country. Recently, the Orange Unified School District, an OC Pathways partner, successfully piloted the use of Nepris.
“Industry partners from within Orange County and beyond now will have a direct link with schools to share their expertise, experience and enthusiasm,” said Jeff Hittenberger, chief academic officer for OCDE. “Nepris gives equitable access to every student to experience workplace learning in a real and personal way.”
Making connections between education and careers is an integral part of the mission, vision and values of OC Pathways, which represents one of the first regionalized approaches to promoting college and career readiness while addressing the needs of local industry in priority sectors. Nepris, meanwhile, has the system in place to make these connections easy and effective. The countywide rollout began in October.
“Our primary goal is to show students a pathway from what they learn in school to college, and then into a career,” said Brian Donnelly, executive director of OC Pathways. “Historically, it has been a challenge for students to see that what they are learning in class does have a real connection to life after school. Nepris brings classroom instruction alive in a way that typical classroom instruction cannot.”
At the community college level, OC Pathways’ focus runs parallel with California Community Colleges’ “Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy initiative,” which aligns skills development with jobs. For community colleges to become essential catalysts to California’s economic recovery and job-creation at the local, regional and state levels, students will need to see the relationship between their educational experiences and the jobs they ultimately will pursue.
“Nepris brings a richness to classroom instruction because our students will now be able to talk with people who have already taken their education and turned that into a profession,” said Tony Teng, dean of advanced technology and applied science at Saddleback College, as well as the OC Pathways grant lead for the nine Orange County community colleges.
“Working with the team at Nepris for the past year and a half has been a wonderful experience because they have been supportive at every step,” said Amy Kaufman, work-based learning program specialist for OCDE. “Nepris helps us take our work in integrated academics and project-based learning to a higher level of student engagement. We can’t wait to start working with our local business and industry partners with Nepris to round out this true partnership between education and industry.”
About OC Pathways
The mission of OC Pathways is to facilitate collaboration among schools, colleges and regional business and community partners to ensure that Orange County students are ready for college and career success through participation in learning experiences that integrate rigorous academics and career preparation. OC Pathways is committed to strong educational partnerships, innovative college and career readiness programs, technology-rich and academically engaging learning environments, educational opportunities that support diversity and inclusiveness, engagement with business partners, and the creation of a sustainable Orange County career pathways infrastructure.
Dallas-based Nepris brings STEM to life (and now STEAM, which adds the Arts to science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by connecting professionals with teachers and classrooms who need speakers, project mentors or evaluators for interactive, cloud-based sessions. Nepris makes this a turn-key process: identifying and registering professionals and teachers, matching professionals’ skills to the teachers’ needs, advising on best practices for classroom interaction, hosting the interactive sessions and tracking all the data in a social platform. See Nepris in action at Nepris.com/webinar or sign-up as a teacher or professional at Nepris.com.