UNM-LA and LAHS team up to win education grant

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By Bonnie Gordon

Instructors at UNM-Los Alamos and Los Alamos High School teamed up to write a grant that netted $155,000 in federal education dollars.

The money will be used to fund a new career pathways program at the high school.

The program will be a gateway to degrees and certifications already in place at UNM-LA.

Los Alamos High School can reapply for the same amount for the next four years, said Tammy Seidel, a LAHS faculty member and one of the grant’s authors said.

“The Carl D. Perkins grants have been around for a long time, but lately, the grant has been geared toward career and technical education,” Seidel said.

“The money has to be used for programs, not just classes. The programs need to lead to a high demand, high paying technical job.”

The grant money will be used to create programs in three areas: Network Systems, Business Management and Accounting, and Product Engineering.

Faculty members at LAHS will be in charge of administering the program at the high school. Seidel will handle the business component.

Don Davis will administer the engineering program and computer science instructor Todd Yilk will direct the network systems area.

The grant will fund both personnel and equipment needed to set up the programs.

“Programs of study will be set up that can take a student from ninth grade through four years of college,” Seidel said.

Students will be able to earn work certifications, professional credentials and two-year or four-year college degrees as they progress through the program.

The staff at LAHS worked closely with the staff at UNM-LA to develop a seamless program for students.

“This grant was a real dual effort between the two entities,” said Seidel. “We are looking forward to working with UNM-LA.”

LAHS Principal Grace Brown and UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page were extremely supportive of the efforts needed to produce the successful grant, Seidel said.

“If Grace and Cedric hadn’t been so supportive, this project would never have come to fruition,” she said.

The high school staffers worked closely with UNM-LA Dean of Instruction Kate Massengale and UNM-LA faculty members, including Lee Bollschweiler, Cindy Rooney, and Kay Willerton to develop the programs outlined in the grant, Seidel said.

The idea behind developing three tracks that lead to careers in expanding fields is meant to engage students early.

“Students are asking, ‘Where am I going to use this information? Why do I need this?’ Kids will begin to see applications to a career and the real world through this program,” Seidel said.

The program will also address the problem of students arriving at college unprepared for the courses their majors require.

Students can join the program as early as ninth grade and progress through it until they graduate.

Students can take, not only high school courses, but also college-level classes at UNM-LA that will provide them with both high school and college credit.

On-the-job experience will also be available to the students through internships.