During my swearing-in ceremony last November, I announced that I was going to fix education in Fontana.
Since that night, I've researched every possible program that I could find which would allow for all our youth to be career-ready after graduation. I also networked with educators and other individuals and listened to their programs that could be applied to Fontana's education.
So much has happened since that bold announcement and now I'm ready to share what is needed by our community to improve our education model.
I'm committed to making sure that every Fontana student gets a chance to be successful for the day, and every day, after they walk across that graduation stage. To ensure this dream, we must do the following:
1) Improve the proficiency level so that every student can read, write and perform math.
2) Create career-ready pathways for every student regardless if they decide to attend college, join the military or seek a job.
3) Empower parents, community members, businesses, educators, elected officials and other organizations to assist in providing resources to enhance the educational experience and success of every student in our great city.
Before I can ask others to assist in this effort, I think it's important to highlight what the City of Fontana, in partnership with non-profit agencies and our school districts, currently offers our students.
I call this concept “Creating Fontana's C.E.O.s,” because Collaboration through Education leads to Occupation.
Programs in the City of Fontana Community Services Department, Planning Department, and Police Department aim to enrich lives by engaging young minds and empowering our students with the resources to become the C.E.O.s of their lives.
• The City of Fontana Community Services Department provides resources from the early development stages to adult education. Tiny Tots programs offer 3-to-5-year-olds early math skills, alphabet learning and letter recognition available in both English and Spanish to ensure they are prepared for kindergarten. Beyond the early learning classes, the department partners with outside agencies to provide programs that focus on technology, cultural arts, healthy lifestyles, leadership and entrepreneurial skills. For example, students are learning how to design video games and create computer programs, which are needed skills to compete in today's workplace.
• The City of Fontana Planning Department offered its first Planning Academy in 2018. The four-week interactive course provided students from all high schools with an inside perspective on a career in planning. Students learned how growth and development shape a city, as well as urban planning and design concepts from around the world. The goal of the academy was to introduce students to a career in planning and encourage them to return to their community to make a difference.
• The City of Fontana Police Department also provides several programs with an educational focus.
----- The Fontana Leadership Intervention Program, known as FLIP, is a joint effort with the Fontana Unified School District. FLIP offers up to 140 high school students a year social services and mentoring to help them to improve their grades to graduate. The program has received the prestigious Helen Putnam Award from the League of California Cities for transforming young lives.
----- The Explorer program provides students between 14-20 years of age an opportunity to learn about a career in law enforcement while receiving leadership skills and mentoring.
----- Officers also provide a wide variety of outreach programs to all schools to prevent bullying and tobacco use.
----- The Fontana Police Department is deeply invested in the lives of Fontana students by participating in their events and being positive role models to inspire the next generation of leaders.
The City of Fontana strives to work with our community partners to ensure our students have all the resources they need to be successful upon graduation in whichever career they choose. When our students succeed, we as a community succeed. The City of Fontana knows that education is not a one size fits all approach, and we are always working to improve our programs to ensure student success.
The education of our students has always been interwoven into the fabric of Fontana. This is the reason the City has taken a proactive approach to collaborate with agencies that provide educational opportunities for our students.
In the near future, I will be sharing more information on how we are going to build upon the Fontana's C.E.O.s concept and fix education in Fontana.
(Acquanetta Warren is the mayor of Fontana.)