Preston Thomas, principal, Life Academy, addresses students at the East Oakland campus.

Preston Thomas, principal, Life Academy, addresses students at the East Oakland campus.

An East Oakland, Calif, high school is using a linked learning approach to provide high school-age students with experience and training for health care careers. Life Academy of Health and Bioscience’s enrollment of 500 students, who are mostly financially disadvantaged and described as “all students of color,” are receiving academic and hands-on training in real workplace environments.

“We’ve kids that go to every major hospital in Oakland and they’re starting to take some of the real world practical skills that they’re learning in the internships, but also the things they are leaning in the classroom, and they’re starting to synthesize that into the vision they see for themselves,” says Preston Thomas, principal of the academy.

The grade 6-12 students are able to choose one of three areas in which to focus their studies: medicine, mental health, or biotechnology. Unlike most other secondary schools in the area, sports and many types of elective classes are not offered at the academy. According to a report from PBS News Hour, students at Life Academy have a graduation rate that is second in the city, among high school graduates who go on to attend college.

The reason for the high graduation rate, according to Diane Friedlaender, a senior researcher at Stanford University who oversaw a recent study of Life Academy, is because the academy makes the benefits of learning clear to students.

Other contributing factors to the academy’s success are said to be the internships and career counseling provided to students by health and biotech businesses in the area.

The complete PBS NewsHour report with April Brown is available online.

[Source: PBS NewsHour]