Specializing early: How Albuquerque is training the next generation of workers

(2 min read)

By Marissa Higdon, Editorial Intern for Albuquerque Business First:

When Chris Jones worked at La Promesa Early Learning Center, a bilingual charter school for elementary and middle school students, he says he often struggled finding qualified bilingual teachers, and, once he found them, they were often unprepared to lead classrooms without assistance. Jones says he usually has to closely coach new teachers during their first couple of years.

This lack of qualified teachers drove Jones to found a high school that focuses on teaching young students the skills they need to become successful teachers. The proposed charter school is called Students That Aspire to Teach.

“If we want highly qualified people, then we have to train them earlier,” he says.

This idea, specializing young, has picked up momentum in Albuquerque over the past few years.

Specialty high schools like ACE Leadership High School, which focuses on architecture, construction and engineering, and Anasazi’s new tenant Siembra Leadership High School, which trains young entrepreneurs, are becoming more common in the city.

According to Jones, another perk of giving students career-focused secondary education, besides having a better trained workforce, is students get a chance to try something out before paying for college classes or taking a job they might not like.

“It is really about access and exposure,” he said.

This idea is echoed by Marisa Gay, director of communications and marketing at Bosque School. Bosque is hosting a Startup TEEN: Summer Camp starting June 22 to teach high school students the skills they needs to become successful entrepreneurs, and Gay says the main goal is to show students that there are options when it comes to career choices.

She also said entrepreneurship teaches critical thinking skills and problem solving, things that all employers, no matter the industry, are interested in.

According to a report by the NMSU Alliance for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, there were over 450 teaching positions in the state that needed to be filled in 2015, and employers are reporting a gap between the skills they would like employees to have and the skills students actually learned in school.

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