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H-E-B and its chairman and CEO, Charles Butt, are providing startup funds to create a network of industry-led, career-themed high schools known collectively as the Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST), which the grocer and other key employers plan to establish across San Antonio in partnership with local school districts.
The inaugural school, CAST Tech, will focus on technology and entrepreneurship, and will operate as an in-district charter of the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), though it will be open to students across Bexar County. Tech Bloc, a technology economy advocacy movement, will serve as the lead industry partner. The first of its kind in Texas, the CAST network will use an innovative curriculum, as well as technology, to prepare students for career fields where talent is in high demand.
“The active participation of industry throughout the development of the CAST schools and the student experience is what will set them apart,” said Kate Rogers, H-E-B VP, corporate communication and health promotion. “To be successful, we need companies willing to dedicate the time and resources to designing curriculum and providing opportunities for real-world experience outside the classroom.”
CAST schools will redefine the high school experience by offering college coursework embedded in the classroom curriculum, internships for credit, job shadowing, mentoring, summer job opportunities, guaranteed interviews for graduates, and project-based learning. Students will graduate with a high school diploma and a minimum of 30 hours of college coursework, with the opportunity to earn an associate degree and industry-recognized certificates.
CAST also will deliver some content and instruction digitally, allowing students to control their time, path, place and pace. This will enable teachers to act as coaches and mentors, with class time structured around research, labs and projects.
CAST Tech will open its doors to the first class of 125 to 150 ninth-graders in fall 2017 and will reside in the downtown tech district.
San Antonio-based H-E-B, with sales of more than $23 billion, operates more than 370 stores in Texas and Mexico.