ROP classes train students for job market
By Pixie Sulser
In the “old days” of education, schools offered students job-related classes such as wood shop, welding, and typing to help them prepare for the work force.
Over the years, due to budget cuts, expensive leaps in technology, and overall changes in education, many schools phased out vocational education opportunities. Others, such as Ramona High School and Montecito High School, turned to the Regional Occupation Program (ROP) to offer career enhancement and skill training for students 16 years or older.
Ramona High School offers 13 different ROP courses including welding and metal fabrication, architecture design, interior design, culinary arts, health field occupations, sports medicine, agriculture, digital photography, and the nationally recognized auto program.
Montecito High School also provides students with job enhancement skills and training through ROP classes in food trades, horticulture and landscaping, computer application, computer graphics and computer accounting.
“ROP classes are a great opportunity for students to gain job and skill training,” said RHS ROP instructor Robert Grace. “Students gain confidence and have an opportunity to practice specific skill sets that follow industry standards. Many students go right from high school into the job market because of the training they received in ROP.”
Class of 2012 RHS graduates Joshua Benke and Dallas Jansen recently traveled from Ramona to Cleveland, Ohio to attend the Lincoln Electric welding school. Through Benke’s three-year involvement in the ROP auto program, he was eligible to compete for a scholarship from the Kelly McGinnis Memorial Foundation. Benke was awarded $2,000 in scholarship money, which he will use toward his technical training in Ohio.
McGinnis, a 2005 RHS graduate, found great personal pride and success in his involvement with the auto
program. When he died the December after he graduated, his family and friends established a memorial fund to directly support graduating seniors as they move into furthering their vocational education or to purchase tools and equipment needed “to be on par with their peers in the workforce.”
Dustin Ballantyne, also a 2012 graduate of RHS, was recognized at the San Diego County Career Technical Education celebration for his achievement in the auto program. Ballantyne was the recipient of the Bridegstone/Firestone Scholarship. He is now employed by Perry Ford of Poway training as a transmission technician.
When the ROP program fell under different funding guidelines, many classes were offered at night to benefit adult learners. Now the majority of courses are only available during school hours. Because of this, the number of participating adult learners has declined.
Montecito High secretary Kathy Funk explained that the school does have some adult learners who come to classes during the day, but priority goes first to their enrolled high school students.
If an adult learner is interested and the instructor has room in the class, accommodations can be made. Funk noted that several adults in the community have taken part in the computer courses taught by Jeanine Hawkins.
One such student was Gina Cervantes, who was recognized last June in a ceremony at the San Diego County Office of Education as RUSD’s Outstanding ROP Student for 2012. Cervantes said that, since she has primarily been a housewife for most of her adult life, she is working to acquire new skills that will allow her to apply for a job in the future.
“I have been very fortunate to be able to stay home as my two sons were growing up, but now I am training for something outside of the home,” she said.
She gives Hawkins all of the credit for her award.
“I felt very out of place when I first started,” said Cervantes, “but Mrs. Hawkins checks repeatedly on her students. She is able to demonstrate the information or explain in such a way that it is easy to understand. Her encouragement of her students, her effectiveness as a teacher with all of her students, and her ability to manage a group of people working independently is so impressive. In my opinion, Mrs. Hawkins is the person who really deserves an award.”
A complete list of ROP courses offered at Ramona High School can be found on the school website under “Departments.” Students looking for more information regarding the Montecito High School classes may contact the school office at 760-787-4300.
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