Elk Grove’s collective excellence earns national honor

Once again, the communities of Elk Grove can take pride in an honor we’ve earned for our longstanding excellence in education and commitment to expanding access and learning opportunities for kids.

The honor was officially granted on Jan. 14, when the communities of Elk Grove Unified came together to receive California’s second Ford Next Generation Learning Community designation and the 19th spot nationwide.

This recognition is hard-earned and reflects the great dedication of so many people over many years who have supported Elk Grove Unified’s outstanding Explore EGUSD career and technical education academies, pathways and partnerships. The success of these programs derives from the collaboration among education, civic and business leaders who understand the importance of combining demanding academics with real-world work experience and networking.

We have listened to what employers have told us about the kind of employees they need. We understand how important it is for students to have experiences that teach critical skills, habits and personal qualities that will make them more successful workers.

We have also listened to higher education leaders when they have emphasized the need to graduate more kids who do not need remedial classes when they arrive on campus and instead are ready immediately for challenging college-level work.

Taking these facts into account, our district has been a leader in championing a linked learning approach rooted in challenging classwork and hands-on experience. This, combined with all of our program offerings is a combination that opens the doors for many students and offers a variety of ways of connecting and succeeding.

Our academies and pathways appeal to kids who want to excel and prefer an innovative and integrated program that fires their passions and talents in a way that prepares them for success in college and for work.

In fact, we recently completed our five-year linked learning master plan — one of the key elements that helped earn the distinction from Ford NGL. On Jan. 14, we also held our Third Annual Map Your Future event to showcase our district’s outstanding linked learning academies and pathways that are aligned with key business and industry sectors. We sent an invite out to all middle and high school parents in our district, and were pleased that so many of them, along with their kids, turned out for this informative event.

A key feature of the evening was to showcase academy and pathway students as ambassadors, interviewers, media production crews, and storytellers. Several students also did introductions and served as masters of ceremony.

In addition, Pleasant Grove High School Digital Media Academy students and the Herman Leimbach Elementary School News Crew, with assistance by the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium, were on hand to report and record from the red carpet opening and throughout presentations.

Congratulations, kids. You represented yourself, family and school with great spirit and success — asking great questions and showing a small sampling of the inspiring and diverse students who enrich our school district and city.

Ford NGL Community designation bolsters EGUSD’s commitment to enhance the community approach to improve student academic achievement for college, careers and life. It represents a hub of collaborative engagement that promises a better trained and motivated workforce that will support our regional economy and create greater community prosperity.

By working to connect kids to school, we help them succeed. In turn, our community gets the benefits and the recognition for addressing 21st century problems with 21st century solutions.

Christopher Hoffman is the superintendent of the Elk Grove Unified School District and is a Valley High School graduate.