Victorvill,Ca – San Bernardino County Superintendent Ted Alejandre praised the High Desert Region during his annual State of Education Address for its strong partnerships between education and industry, which will positively impact the economic vitality of the area for years to come.
The speech – his fifth annual for the region – was held at the High Desert Church in Victorville before a crowd of educators, elected officials, community stakeholders and students.
“The High Desert is at the forefront of efforts to collaborate with industry and business to provide opportunities that prepare public school students in the region for college and future careers,” Alejandre said. “Through the strong efforts of the Mountain Desert Career Pathways and Mountain Desert Economic Partnership, thousands of students from the region annually receive hands-on career technical education training to help position the area to be a viable economic engine for sustained growth and prosperity in the coming years.”
John McMahon, sheriff-coroner for San Bernardino County, introduced Alejandre and applauded the county superintendent’s strong commitment to school safety and welcoming cultures on campuses. Stephanie Houston, assistant superintendent of Innovation and Engagement for County Schools, introduced student performers and elected officials to start the event.
During his speech, Alejandre recognized the Countywide Vision, a collective impact approach initiated by county government where the educational needs of the 406,000 students who attend public schools in the county is a high priority in decision-making.
“We believe there is strength in unity and have built visible and deep-seated partnerships that align with our mission and beliefs and provide a framework for defining common purpose, cultivating strategic change and inspiring innovation,” Alejandre said.
He showcased programs and initiatives that promote wellness and positive school culture; advance career technical education learning; statewide leadership and advocacy through California’s Community Engagement Initiative, in which San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools is a lead collaborator; and expanding equity for increased resiliency and community strength.
Alejandre also congratulated county high schools for helping to raise graduation rates above the statewide average for the first time since the California Department of Education established its statewide student identifier in 2009. He recognized the following seven districts in the Desert/Mountain Region for having grad rates above county and state averages: Apple Valley (87.9 percent); Bear Valley (85.9 percent); Hesperia (89.3 percent); Needles (90.6 percent); Rim of the World (88.6 percent); Silver Valley (92 percent); and Snowline (88.2 percent).
Seeking to innovate and engage students in relevant learning was a constant thread woven into Alejandre’s address
“We are fortunate to have district leaders and teachers throughout the county working with private sector entrepreneurs to spur innovation so learning is engaging and relevant,” Alejandre said.
He highlighted the strong collaboration between education and industry from local partnerships like those of Exquadrum, Inc., which works closely with the Department of Defense on rocket manufacturing applications. As a graduate of Hesperia High School, Exquadrum President Eric Schmidt has worked with districts and programs across the High Desert to provide better educational and employment opportunities for students and for communities.
In his conclusion, Alejandre spoke of “boldness” and “pushing limits” in efforts to educate students. “We must pool our dreams and work collaboratively to push for transformative innovation in our schools now,” he said. “We must inspire innovation on a global scale, lest our students be left behind.”
Alejandre’s address showcased several student performances and presentations. Those included:
- Barstow High School’s wind ensemble, under the direction of Dan Barilone, which played during patriotic observances;
- The color guard representing the Academy for Academic Excellence’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program;
- The Pledge of Allegiance delivered by Heritage eighth-grader Emmalee Escargarza;
- Excelsior Education Center’s dance/vocal ensemble and Xpression group, under the direction of Sandy Sooter, which performed two songs;
- Adelanto High School’s concert band, under the direction of Christopher Jackson, which performed during the speech.