Colorado Leaders Learn from San Diego’s Educational and Workforce Innovators

The annual business and education delegation from Colorado Succeeds landed in San Diego, CA in early October to learn from the county’s innovative school and workforce practices. Over 30 business and civic leaders from Colorado Succeeds joined staff and guest host Tom Vander Ark on an exciting and informative three-day experience. The agenda was packed with school tours led by students and educators, informative discussions with workforce leaders engaged in school partnership, rethinking early childhood and higher education models, and inclusive workforce growth strategies, as well as plenty of time for networking and fun! 

Click here to see more photos from the 2019 delegation trip.  

Highlights of this year’s delegation trip included: 

  • Innovative school models where students are empowered to personalize their learning, connect with community and industry in building relevant educational experiences, and explore their passions and interest from early education through post-secondary. 
    • High Tech High: One of the most well known project-based high schools in the world. Thousands of visitors from all over the world come to San Diego to see the unique K-12 campus and see schools that enable student agency and high-quality learning that prepares students for a more agile future. All of the HTH schools integrate art and public exhibition into projects fostering creativity and design. 
    • Design 39: A K-8 public school designed by the community and DelLago educators in the Poway school district. The school uses the design thinking process to build an adaptive culture, focused on two key areas 1) creating meaningful learning experiences, and 2) reimagining leadership structures.  
    • Del Lago Academy: A health and biotech focused high school developed by the Escondido Union High School District in partnership with business and healthcare partners with the goal of engaging scholars in real-world learning in order to prepare them better for success in college and career.   
    • Cajon Valley: A P-8 school district with a mission of “happy kids, healthy relationships, in a path to gainful employment,” the World of Work is a district developed comprehensive K-8 career awareness system that allows students to cycle through more than 50 integrated career units that include exploration, simulation, meet a pro, and practice. 
  • Engaging workforce discussions where San Diego workforce representatives and Colorado delegates shared the landscape of initiatives and activities designed to bring a more inclusive workforce strategies to both regions. Topics ranged from family-centered solutions to income share agreements. Overlapping themes between the communities also included collaboration with school districts where workforce provides labor market and career navigation tools for students and schools, as well as work-based learning opportunities like apprenticeships, internships, and capstones.  
  • Learning about teacher recruitment and retention strategies, including alternative licensure models, to highlight the importance of training a new workforce of educators who are prepared to put students in the driver’s seat of their own learning and facilitate rather than lecture. 
    • High Tech High Graduate School: Just six years after High Tech High opened, the team opened High Tech High Graduate School of Education. It offers an M.Ed. program in Educational Leadership along with myriad opportunities for professional education–from a hybrid, online program focused on transforming schools to three-day residencies on project-based learning. HTH GSE also offers a highly focused approach that is a refreshing GSE approach in contrast to the typical generic collection of courses. 

Facilitation and learnings were hosted by national expert Tom Vander Ark, keynote speaker from the 2019 Annual Member’s meeting, Great Schools Are Good Business, and the CEO of Getting Smart, a learning design firm. Tom’s vast experience in education, philanthropy and business provided deep connections and opportunities to learn from a national thought leader. He provided context of San Diego’s ecosystem and how the takeaways and lessons could translate back to action in Colorado including connections to Colorado Succeeds’ Agility Policy Agenda and Vision 2030.  

Want to join us next year? Or have ideas of what we should go see in Colorado? Connect with Ashley Andersen today – 



Chief of Staff
Colorado Succeeds