Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Value of Partnerships

Build it and they will come. That is the story of the recently opened Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) Northeast Campus. The Northeast Campus is built on an 11-acre site adjacent to the Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix. The designbuild project by DLR Group/Architechnology and McCarthy Building Companies included the transformation of existing office, warehouse, hanger and vehicle maintenance shop into a first-class educational environment.

Touring the campus and meeting with staff members and their superintendent, Greg Donovan, gave me a renewed appreciation for the value of partnerships.

West-MEC is a public school district that provides students innovative Career and Technical Education. More than 21,000 students from 46 high schools across almost 3,685 square miles are currently enrolled in West-MEC Career and Technical Education courses. In addition to satellite programs for students at their high school campus, West-MEC currently operates a Central Campus, a Freightliner Campus, Start@West-MEC, the Northeast Campus and a number of educational partner campuses.

Other partnerships and alliances include Arizona DES Rehabilitation services, Southwest Skills Center and Sonoran UCEDD to train young adults with disabilities, and the Maricopa County Sheriff ’s Association.

In addition to equipment and support, Snap-On Corporation has named West-MEC as a certification center for the state and the Train-the-Trainer conduit for a four-state area. Trane Corporation teamed to establish an HVACR training program and The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station has partnered to establish an Energy Technician training center.

It didn’t take long for me to see that this is not a vo-tech school of yesteryear designed for “those kids.” It is a school that offered a college and career pathway for the students choosing to attend. Students come away with skills, certifications, college credits and a path to the future. The proof is in the numbers. The retention rate at the school is between 96 to 100 percent. The graduation rate for CTE students is 99 percent. In a time when we must focus our energies on partnerships, workforce development, a bridge between high school and college, jobs and student success, West-MEC has done it right. It is a program and campus worth seeing!

This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.

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