Mayor of Austin, Texas
As the mayor of Austin, Lee Leffingwell has championed a number of initiatives that promote community engagement and workplace preparedness for the city’s students. “Our most valuable resource as a city is our young people,” says Leffingwell. “If we can do more now to educate and engage our students in local government and civic life, the entire community will ultimately reap the reward.”
Under Leffingwell’s leadership, the City of Austin and Austin Independent School District (AISD) have partnered for AustinCorps, a civic education and leadership development program for AISD high school students. AustinCorps combines classroom curriculum on local government with a hands-on experience at City Hall, which provide students with vital experiential learning and career exploration opportunities. During the fall semester, students meet twice weekly with city policymakers and administrators to become familiar with city government and gain employability skills that they apply in the spring during mentored internships with the city and in executing a community project.
Another initiative made possible by Leffingwell’s commitment to CTE is the Fleet Services Department of the City of Austin’s partnership with three AISD campuses to offer an Automotive Technology Partnership. The program has been designed to produce students who will be qualified to apply for temporary, part time and full time careers with a range of potential employers, including Fleet Services. Special emphasis has been placed on teaching students CTE and employability skills, including communication, job interviewing and resume building. In addition, Fleet Services arranges for guest speakers and technicians to provide instruction and to demonstrate industry skills for program students that they can apply in the classroom and on the job.
Furthermore, Leffingwell’s dedication to CTE is demonstrated through Austin Parks and Recreation Department’s work with Akins High School for its pilot Park Ranger Cadet program. This program connects CTE student with city employees who provide instruction on environmental issues, ecology and the roles of the department. Students participate in structured field trips and weekend activities to experience the responsibilities of the department firsthand, and after two years of coursework are offered paid internships during their senior year.