PWCS students in cosmetology, printing, firefighting and welding courses

The Virginia School Boards Association has designated the month of April as VSBA Workforce Readiness Month. This month and every month, PWCS is preparing our students to be workforce ready.

Our Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, special education EMPLOY programs, and work-based learning are vital in preparing our students for immediate employment in fast-growing fields and skilled trades.

PWCS thanks our many educators and work-based learning partners who help us ensure that students have early access and opportunity to participate in workforce readiness programs.

Here are just a few examples of the workforce readiness efforts in PWCS.

Patriot High School's Employ program helps students build connections to post-secondary work

Be a learning partner with PWCS! Help make our students workforce ready!

Independence Nontraditional School finds unique solution to students’ work/school balance needs

Stephanie Bretzke, principal of Independence Nontraditional School, is helping the school live up to its name by finding non-traditional pathways for students to both earn and learn. Through a partnership with the Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) Facilities Department, two Independence Nontraditional School students are now employed with PWCS, gaining valuable hands-on experience while still attending all their classes. Nine more students are slated to begin work with the Facilities Department this summer.

“I realized a critical missing piece for our students was the options they had available for post-secondary employment,” said Bretzke. “Finding something that the student is passionate about is one of the high motivators to increase attendance as well as a key piece of helping create thriving futures.”

After researching Virginia Department of Education work-based learning requirements and meeting with PWCS Student Learning Department, Facilities Department, and the Career and Technical Education Department, Bretzke and Elizabeth Blancke, a coordinator for PWCS safety, training, and employee relations, developed a plan to interview students and hire them as employees within the Facilities Department.

“The Facilities Department is excited to play a role in helping our students not only find their passion, but also partner in helping them obtain valuable work experience as they pursue their dreams,” said Blancke. “The benefits of employing current students are vast; we become part of the student’s educational journey and hopefully will be able to recruit and retain some of our talented students,” she added.

Andrew Garcia, a student at Independence Nontraditional School, values the opportunity to start earning real money while continuing his education.

“My goal one day is to have my own roofing company. I feel like this experience will help me learn different skills and new things daily,” he said.

For Garcia, the key is flexibility in his daily school schedule through block scheduling. With fewer classes per day and the opportunity to work with administrators to adjust his schedule, the real need to earn money and a diploma is now a possibility for him.

“I have a better work and school balance,” he said. “I am not stressed about being able to work enough hours and have time for school,” he added, praising the school by saying, “This school allows you to reach your goals and prepare for after graduation.”

Bretzke’s hope is to expand the partnerships within PWCS to continue home-growing the division’s talent pool in a variety of occupations including information technology, food services, transportation, and communications.

“I believe that this opportunity has the potential to change lives,” said Bretzke.