Students and families looking for the most innovative education programs have always been able to rely on Oakland Schools for those resources.
And it looks like this school year is proving to be no different.
Recently, Oakland Schools developed yet another state-of-the-art career cluster designed to provide any one of Oakland County’s students who want to participate with a chance at developing knowledge which will help them succeed in two of the modern workforce’s most progressive industries.
The cluster, aptly named Homeland Security, houses two different programs: Criminal Justice and Cyber Security Networking, It is in its pilot year at Oakland Schools Technical Campus-Southeast (OSTC-SE) in Royal Oak.
When it was launched in the fall, it already had a waiting list, said Cyber Security Networking Instructor Michael Mayville. He anticipates numbers to increase even more in the 2018-2019 school year.
“I think this is really going to explode next year, I really do,” he said. “I have several students outside of our boundaries who are interested … so I think there is going to be a high demand for both programs.”
OSTC-SE already boasts eight different clusters, but when the school’s Agriscience and Environmental Technologies program was cancelled last year, Oakland Schools administrators began to look at what could be put in to fill the vacancy.
An advisory committee of 24 individuals from business, industry and education was put together and they soon determined implementing a Homeland Security cluster was the way to go.
Why? According to Ben Morin, Career and Technical Education consultant for Oakland Schools who helped plan and develop the initial advisory committee, information technology has some of the highest career salaries. Additionally, many related jobs in this pathway are part of Michigan’s Hot 50 Jobs put out by the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. The U.S. Department of Labor indicates strong growth outlooks for public safety personnel including police officers and intelligence analysts. Morin added it was determined there were no other Career and Technical Education state-approved programs of its kind within the region, plus there were many certifications the students could receive by participating, an important part of the OSTC model.
Two teachers: Mayville, who taught Cyber Security at another district in Oklahoma for five years before coming to OSTC-SE and, Crystal Nowka, a former police officer in the city of Wayne, were brought on board for the program.
In the Cyber Security program, students can learn about careers such as cyber security analyst, engineer, auditor, software developer and online security maintenance. Criminal Justice focuses on careers such as cyber forensics investigator, law enforcement and medical biology analysis (DNA), to name a few.
As mentioned before, both programs offer many certifications for students to earn as well to help them advance their careers at a quicker pace once they graduate.
“It’s a way to prepare the students before they get to college so they can get a jump start in to the industry,” explained Mayville.
Nowka said both programs work well together in the Homeland Security cluster.
“A student can go from one program one year to another the next year to get a variety of skills, so it’s a very positive experience,” she said. “The crimes in the cyber sector are significantly increasing just with the advances in technology so I see both of them working very well together.”
In addition to certifications, the program is working to set up connections with the outside business world so students can garner real-life experience in the fields, such as being a part of police ride-alongs.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Nowka. “The students love it because they get to do things they don’t normally do on a day-to-day basis.”
Sarah Davis is a communications specialist with Oakland Schools. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.