Making the Grade: Vela gets students excited about college and careers

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Vela Middle School wastes no time in getting kids excited about college and careers.

From university banners in the halls to the names of academic teams to the nickname – Vela University – that students and staff use for their school, all who attend the future-minded campus have college on the brain.

Alfonso Munoz, who teaches Exploring Careers and Technology along with Career Portals classes, appreciates the benefit of exposing students to career options before high school.

“We want to lay the foundation for students to be able to make decisions about their college and career choices,” says Munoz. “Building that foundation now will not only help them in college but also in ninth grade at Cano Academy as that is when students begin to choose which career path they want to follow.”

Career Portals classes are designed to allow eighth graders to explore different careers. Students also take research-based-assessments to determine their personal interests towards a particular profession and learn about college acceptance rates as wells as what degree is required to enter their field of choice.

This course, in turn, allows students to transition into ninth grade with an idea of which of the five career pathways they’d like to follow at Cano Freshman Academy.

Munoz emphasizes to his students the importance of keeping up with their grades so that they can get into the college of their choice.

“What we stress to the students is that they need to begin thinking about their GPA. During their freshman year is when it starts to count. It’s never too early for students to consider what they want to do with their future.”

Trey Vento, an eighth-grade student who plans to pursue a career in engineering, describes how his teachers are helping students link what they learn in class to real-world skills.

“Our teachers here are preparing us for what to expect in college and beyond,” says Vento. “Last year my Language Arts/Reading teacher had us do a mock interview with a full resume. I felt a bit out of my comfort zone, but my teacher guided me through it; I feel more confident now because of it.”

Teachers keep students motivated by instilling in them a love for learning.

Eighth-grade student Felicity Sanchez looks forward to attending school every day and wants to become a teacher so she can teach other kids to love school too.

“I’ve learned a lot from my teachers. I especially enjoy reading,” says Sanchez. “I’m thinking of going into education because I want to be able to pass on what I’ve learned to others as well.”

She considers herself fortunate to be part of a school that promotes an inspiring learning environment where students can thrive.

“Here at Vela we are hungry for a challenge and ready to learn. We may be kids, but we come early in the mornings prepared to give it our all and that’s what Vela University is.”


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