(Moreno Valley, CA) The California School Boards Association recently recognized The Moreno Valley Unified School District as a winner of the prestigious Golden Bell Award for 2013. This award recognizes the academic success of Health Careers Academy on the campus of Canyon Springs High School.
“The selection of Canyon Springs Health Careers Academy as a Golden Bell Awards winner reflects the Moreno Valley Unified School District’s commitment to meeting the needs of students in careers that are needed and relevant,” said Dr. Judy D. White, district superintendent.
The CSBA recognized 59 public school’s programs in the state this year. It created the Golden Bell Awards program in 1980 to recognize innovative and successful programs that make a difference in students’ success, and focus on meeting the needs of all students.
Health Careers Academy is the oldest of several vocational academies Moreno Valley Unified School District has created. While students in these programs receive a well-rounded education, by following a recommended pathway of courses, they can either begin an entry-level career in their area of interest, or more easily transition to a college or university level education in the health career field after high school graduation.
“The goal of the Health Careers Academy is to graduate students prepared for college and a career in the health care field, said Academy Director Sharon Scott. “Receiving the California Golden Bell award is confirmation that the team’s effort to ensure student achievement is both successful and effective.”
Students enter the Health Careers Academy as sophomores. In the academies, students have the same core requirements, such as English, social studies, and science as they would in a regular high school program, but take these courses from teachers at the academy.
Students also take vocational education courses through the academy. In the introductory course, Introduction to Health Care, students learn medical technology, learn how to take vital signs, research health careers, develop resumes and are certified in first aid and CPR.
Juniors learn about cultural disparities in health care and biomedical ethics, and participate in mock interviews and job shadowing with the academy’s business partners. In their senior year, students receive even more specialized training in health care, and assistance in completing university and financial aid applications.
More than 60 percent of the current students are “at-risk,” which means they fall into one or more categories that could hinder their educational development. These students may have:
• Scored below proficiency on standardized tests as ninth-graders
• Completed their ninth grade year with a grade point average of 2.2 or lower
• Not earned enough credits in ninth grade to graduate on time
• Come from a low-income family
• Frequently missed classes as ninth-graders
When they enter the Health Careers Academy, educators assess the students’ skills and immediately begin addressing the academic deficiencies and poor work habits that have hindered their success.
“The results have been exemplary,” Scott said. “Since 2000, all of our students have graduated on time. More than half of the 2013 graduating class had completed all of the requirements to attend a public California University immediately after graduation, and nine of the 31 graduates received college scholarships.”
“The Canyon Springs Health Careers Academy has consistently produced students with a plethora of knowledge, genuine concern about all health issues and most importantly a passion to be proactive and responsive,” Dr. White said. “The level of student engagement and compassion for others has propelled this program above the rest. Students participating in this program live and breathe commitment to health.”
The academy also offers extra-curricular organizations.
The Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) is a national organization specifically for students in a vocational health careers education program such as the one offered by Health Careers Academy. Part of the school curriculum includes activities related to HOSA. It also meets outside of school hours. Through HOSA, the academy’s juniors and seniors compete against other schools’ health services academies in debates on biomedical ethics, and often win these debates.
Another extra-curricular organization is the Anti-Bullying Club, which Health Services Academy students created after attending a conference on bullying. This club gave a presentation to all ninth- and 10th-graders at Canyon Springs High School, and set up a week of anti-bullying lunchtime activities during the week of Feb. 25 – March 1, 2013.
While Health Services Academy frequently turns a struggling high school student into a successful health care professional, sometimes the results have been even more profound.
Scott recalls a student, who is still in the academy, had been living on the streets as a runaway when she started her sophomore year.
“She was, understandably, credit deficient,” Scott said. “Health Careers Academy created a plan, which included credit recovery, summer school and online courses to put her back on track for graduation on time. This student also has expressed appreciation for having positive role models and serious-minded students in her life through the academy.”
Health Careers Academy students are encouraged to also enroll in courses offered by Riverside County Regional Occupations Program/Career Technical Education, as these lead to certification in health careers. By taking just one ROP course, students can be certified for an entry-level health care profession at the time of high school graduation.
The students usually have between 160 to 240 hours of internship experience by the time they graduate from high school. In the 2012-2013 school year, 27 of the 31 seniors had internships with either Riverside County Regional Medical Center, the Riverside County ROP/CTE, Charter Hospice or medical clinics.
In addition to the internships, all Health Careers Academy must perform 50 hours of community service yearly. Of the 150 total hours required over their three years in the academy, 50 must be in a hospital or other medical setting.
Some students provide more than twice the minimum required, which garners them recognition in the “HCA 300 Club” for their more than 300 hours of community service. Collectively, the school provided more than 6,000 hours of community service.
Although employable at high school graduation, most students in Health Services Academy move on to post-secondary education. The academy gives them a jump-start on that as well.
All of the vocational education courses they take as juniors and seniors, and the anatomy and physiology courses offered at the academy offer dual credit. Students who complete these courses with a grade of B or better can also receive credit at Moreno Valley College.
Moreno Valley Unified School District developed Health Careers Academy in 1995. Before then, it had determined health care careers were of great interest to its students of that time, and these careers would be in high demand in coming years. Now, almost 20 years later, the career field continues to be in high demand, and is an interest of many current MVUSD high school students.
In addition, Moreno Valley Unified School District worked with colleges, universities and employers to develop pathways. These higher learning institutions and medical field employers remain in partnership with Health Careers Academy, offering students mentoring, guest speakers and job shadowing opportunities. UCR provides student mentors who regularly visit Health Service Academy to discuss their university experience, and to help the high-school students with college applications, financial aid forms, SAT preparation, class schedules and time management.
Partners are Riverside County Regional Medical Center, the Riverside County Office of Education, the University of California, Riverside Health Sciences Partnership, Riverside Community College District (of which Moreno Valley College is a part), and Loma Linda University Medical Center.
For more information about Health Careers Academy, contact Sharon Scott at (951) 571-4768.
For more information on the Moreno Valley Unified School District’s call the District office at (951) 571-7500 or go to the website at MVUSD.net.
About the Moreno Valley Unified School District
Moreno Valley Unified School District, with 3,400 employees and 35,000 students.
Moreno Valley Unified School District’s mission is to prepare all students academically and socially to become productive members of society.