Solar Futures Motivates CORE Academy Student

Imagine, at age 18, receiving an opportunity that will guide you to your ideal career. Although the journey to finding your career is invariably a challenging process, one Inland Empire high school in San Bernardino is making those first steps a little easier. Arroyo Valley High School utilizes the California Partnership Academies program (CPA) which provides mentorship, internships, and other technical training to help students develop their career options. One of the key components of CPA is motivating students by building confidence and a strong work ethic.

Arroyo Valley High School uses these elements of CPA in their seven academies available to students. One academy, Cultivating Organic, Recycling, Environmentalists (CORE) stands out from the rest. CORE focuses on occupational training in sustainable and environmentally-conscious career fields. Teachers in the CORE academy are committed to connecting the experiences of high school students to future sustainability professionals.

CORE’s uniqueness is impressive and extends past its mission to promote clean energy. The educators have a partnership with GRID Inland Empire and are also utilizing GRID’s own student-focus solar education program. Solar Futures, which is supported by SunPower, provides education and hands-on training to K-12 students with heavy emphasis on high school juniors and seniors. The program encourages students to learn more about solar power while illuminating career pathways in the solar industry.

One of the CORE teachers, Laura Gallardo, remarked, “The partnership CORE has with GRID excites the students because they are able to interact with a real organization and see the impact of their work.”

The process to enroll in CORE is simple. Students speak to their academic advisor and express an interest in an academy during their 8th grade year. The challenge is that all academies are a first-come, first-serve basis and CORE is extremely popular.

One student, Danny Maciel, was lucky to have been able to transfer from Advanced Placement (AP) courses to CORE. Although AP courses were academically challenging, he found it difficult to remain interested in material unrelated to his career interests. In the middle of his freshman year, he began to ask friends about their experiences with Arroyo’s different academies. Danny was instantly attracted to the stories of the amazing interaction between GRID staff and his classmates.

The first time on the roof reassured Danny that Solar Futures was a good choice. At his first install, Danny spent most of his time on the roof laying down railings and securing panels. He was impressed with the training stating, “GRID gave me a sense of family. I now have a chance to work with friends. I particularly like that there’s no judgment when it comes to how fast or slow it takes you to learn.”

Danny looks forward to life after graduation because he enjoys installing panels and can see a career in solar. He is eager to learn more about GRID internships and possibly apply for GRID’s yearlong fellowship program, SolarCorps.

Igniting the next generation of solar leaders starts with exposure and accessibility to solar education at the K-12 level. Solar Futures allows students to explore different career possibilities in the solar industry that they may have never have gained exposure to otherwise. If you are an educator or are interested in teaching students about renewable energy, check out our Solar Futures classroom activty toolkit. Many thanks to SunPower for supporting our Solar Futures program!