When the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District moved their offices onto the Sonoma State University campus four years ago, superintendent Jan Heffron asked, "What sense is there having a university in our backyard and not taking advantage of it?"
Now, as the year 2000 inches closer, the partnership that began that day is in full bloom. One result is the soon-to-be-completed Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center on the SSU campus. The school district, under the supervision of the Superintendent Jan Heffron, committed $5 million of district bond money toward the project. Building on that relationship, the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District has a 25 year lease providing classroom space to hold its Technology High School. Additionally, all schools in the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District are linked electronically to the University, giving them access to University library resources and the World Wide Web. In the future, Cotati-Rohnert Park schools will be linked to the Schulz Information Center.
The Technology High School, housed on the SSU campus, opened its doors at the end of August to the first class of students. Sixty eager and enthusiastic students now take their high school math, science and engineering courses at the Tech High for a half day each morning. They then walk the five minute path back to the Rancho Cotate High School and take their English, social studies, physical education and elective courses in the afternoon. The students do not take classes with college students; rather, they take all of their classes as with their high school peers. Eventually, approximately 400 students will be enrolled at one time in the Technology High School Program.
Twenty percent of the Technology High School Program enrollment is reserved for students from outside the district. Those who were accepted transferred to Rancho Cotate High School.
"We're very excited to be able to work in conjunction with the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District and Rancho Cotate High School in this valuable program. The experience and training these students will receive will stay with them as they continue on to college and beyond," says Ruben Armiñana, president of Sonoma State University.
The vision for the Tech High is to increase the numbers of students who leave high school prepared for advanced study in mathematics and science and for technology careers. Ken Torre, mathematics teacher at Rancho Cotate High School feels that the new Tech High will give students experiences well beyond the typical high school classroom. So does Adam Littlefield, coordinator of the Technology High School Program.
"The opportunities that will open up to these students, including learning experiences on the Sonoma State University campus and in local business and industry, will be enormously valuable to them."
In order for a program like this to work, community businesses resources were needed. Partners now include Autodesk Foundation, Hewlett-Packard, Office Depot, Parker Compumotor, Rheodyne, Santa Rosa Junior College and SOLA Optical. "Sonoma County industries want a well-prepared work force," says Littlefield. "They have taken the first step to help ensure that. The students and their families are grateful and excited to be looking down the pipeline of their child‚s future."
Business partners support the Tech High in several ways from providing computers and supplies to offering internships and job shadowing opportunities for students. Littlefield feels that Sonoma County businesses are in the best place to show the students the relevance of the topics they are studying in the classroom.
A dedication ceremony for the new Technology High School Program at Sonoma State University takes place on Tuesday, October 26 at 5 p.m. It will be held at the site, in the northwest corner of the SSU campus, near the residential community.
For information about the Technology High School Program, call Adam Littlefield, 707 792-4825. To RSVP for the Dedication Ceremony, call 707 664-2158.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News