Another year of career-focused success

Universal Audenried’s principal, Blanchard Diavua, hopes to continue bettering the school this year.

Universal Audenried principal, Blanchard Diavua

The only state-approved charter school for Career and Technical Education, Universal Audenried, has remained vigilant in advancing and expanding its many programs in recent years. Under the leadership of third-year principal Blanchard Diavua, the school plans to continue its strive for success into the 2017–2018 school year.

According to Diavua, one of the largest shifts in focus he has seen in only his few years serving as principal has involved ensuring students are graduating with applicable industry certifications. For example, for culinary arts students, by obtaining a Safe Serv Certification they are then able to work in the many kitchens and hotels across the country. Similarly, when automotive technology students obtain a Electrical Power & Transmission Installer Certificate, their educations becoming increasingly valuable.

“For each program we offer there is a cert available that is related to that field,” Diavua, who is originally from Bridgeport, Conn., said. “We’ve also teamed up with PECO, Drexel University and Hahneman University to help place our Nursing and Medical Careers students in their hospitals upon completion of the program.”

Along with pushing for an increased number of students pursuing certifications, Diavua says he has put a large emphasis on overall college and career readiness throughout the school’s programs. He believes providing options for students moving forward is essential, and an effective way to do so is through helping place them in internship opportunities both while in-school or during the summer months.

“Instead of adding a bunch of new programs to our curriculum, we really want to work with the ones we have here now,” Diavua said. “We’re currently working with our corporate community to create more partnerships which will aid in our ability to place interns. Providing real world application is the most beneficial educational tool.”

In conversing with local businesses, Diavua said local car dealerships and even casinos (for students ages 18 and older) are open to the idea of accepting interns. He added Universal Audenried, which is located at 3301 Tasker St., is always open to the idea of adding new corporate community partners.

Furthermore, in addition to increasing internship opportunities, Diavua notes another immediate goal is to continue building students’ test scores through adequate preparation. By assessing data from test scores in previous years, the school then uses the existing schedule to build in intervention blocks and set aside increased time to intervene on areas which students need to improve upon.

“We begin preparing students when they come in as ninth graders,” Diavua said. “Whether it be for the Keystone state exams, or other national tests such as the SAT, we want our students to be as prepared as possible to succeed.”

He added that another key to success is to increase the everyday standards placed on students at Universal Audenried. Diavua says that if they are held to higher standards, students are more apt to focus on their education and seek the necessary resources to achieve the results expected of them.

“We offer tutoring after school, teacher assistance before and after school, an after-school program for academic support and a family/student resource center to address boundaries that might not be limited to academics,” Diavua said. “We want to offer support to those students who may be struggling.”

Also to give students a more career-focused education, Universal Audenried has chosen not to force students to take random electives like many other high schools do, but rather core classes to relate to their specific field of interest. For example, Construction Trades students will learn how to apply what they are learning in English or math classes to applicable uses throughout that field.

“The overall goal of our core academic program is to help these students find employment straight out of high school, or to guide them toward beginning a two- or four-year higher education program,” Diavua said. “While others do chose alternatives like the military, last year 56 of our approximately 130 went to a four-year higher education program, and 30 went to a two-year program.”

Proving the success of Universal Audenried’s recent endeavors, Diavua sees no reason why this trend would not continue moving into the new school year. His only additional hope is more students, both incoming freshmen and transfer students, will make the decision to become a member of the Universal Audenried academic family.

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