PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) announced today the selection of 22 PrepareRI Ambassadors for the 2018-2019 school year. These classroom educators, district administrators, and community leaders will spend the next year helping to expand career education opportunities as part of Prepare Rhode Island, a statewide strategy to prepare all Rhode Island youth for good jobs.
“Prepare Rhode Island is building a talent pipeline for the jobs of tomorrow, putting our students on the early path to success and positioning our economy for continued growth,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “I want to congratulate our PrepareRI Ambassadors and wish you luck for a challenging and rewarding year ahead. Thank you for your commitment to education, to our students, and to supporting the Rhode Island economy.”
RIDE launched this program last year with five Ambassadors, who embarked on ambitious projects to help schools and colleges build career pathways. Projects included an interactive map of statewide internship opportunities, and writing curriculum for school counselors. They came together regularly to strategize how best to scale up PrepareRI’s growing portfolio of programs. After a successful pilot year, RIDE received an overwhelming response from individuals interested in participating, and decided to expand the program to 22 Ambassadors.
“At a time when Rhode Island is seeing record growth in career exploration and education, it’s important that we have a variety of stakeholders at the table helping to design and implement this exciting work,” said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “By bringing educators out of the classroom, and community leaders into the fold, we’re ensuring that our programs are stronger, more accessible, and more responsive to the needs of students, teachers, and communities.”
“Early exposure to career pathways helps high school students to thrive when they enroll in our postsecondary institutions," said Brenda Dann-Messier, Commissioner of Postsecondary Education. "We are especially pleased that this class of Prepare RI Ambassadors includes educators who will focus on strategies to eliminate equity gaps, to make sure that all of our youth have access to early career experiences that serve as onramps to postsecondary education and good jobs.”
“The PrepareRI Ambassadors’ voices will be critical to ensuring that PrepareRI initiatives can be successfully implemented by the people making it happen on the ground – our students, educators, and employers,” said Heather Hudson, Executive Director of the Governor’s Workforce Board. “The GWB is particularly excited by the number of ambassadors who will focus on expanding work-based learning, so that all of our high school students have access to high-quality experiences that better prepare them for their careers, and Rhode Island employers have the prepared and skilled workforce they need.”
Each of the Ambassadors has selected a project for the year ahead, such as expanding equity of access for underserved students, building a media toolkit for districts, and publishing reports on the computer science landscape of schools and districts. They will work alongside staff from RIDE and the other state agencies leading PrepareRI, including the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, Governor’s Workforce Board, and the Commerce Corporation.
Ambassadors will receive a $5,000 stipend for their participation, funded by New Skills for Youth, a grant from JPMorgan Chase and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Rhode Island was one of only 10 states to receive New Skills for Youth funding for youth career readiness, and subsequently launched Prepare Rhode Island in January of 2017.
The 2018-2019 PrepareRI Ambassadors, who represent six schools, six districts, a college, and seven community groups and businesses, are:
- Jessica Bailey, a senior research associate at the Education Development Center
- Joe Battaglia, the curriculum and CTE director at the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center
- Lynne Bedard, the career coordinator at Ponaganset High School
- Jennifer Cowart, a freelance reporter and photographer
- Michael Deslauriers, a math and computer science teacher at Smithfield High School
- Ann Durham, the deputy director of the Providence After School Alliance
- Liz Dwyer, a mathematics instructor at the Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College
- Lori Ferguson, director of the Regional Career and Technical Center at Coventry High School
- Carlene Fonseca, the CTE school-based coordinator for the Central Falls School District
- Stacy Haines-Mayne, a student support specialist for the Exeter-West Greenwich School District
- Carlon Howard, the executive director of Breakthrough Providence
- Stephanie Geller, a senior policy analyst at Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
- Jane George, an itinerant ESL teacher for the North Kingstown School Department
- Michael Jolin, a retired superintendent and now independent education consultant
- Michelle Maktilla, an advisor at the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center
- Joseph Mazzone, a CTE instructor at Davies Career and Technical High School
- Sheryl Rabbitt, the chief academic officer for Warwick Public Schools
- Omar Reyes, an admissions officer at Rhode Island College
- Keri Rossi-D’entremont, the director of disability services at Rhode Island College
- Karen Ryan, an English teacher at North Smithfield High School
- Simona Simpson-Thomas, the director of multiple pathways for the Providence Public School District
- Cindy Vanavery, the director of transition and vocational services at the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative
PrepareRI includes a range of advanced coursework and work-based learning, including career and technical education (CTE) programs, the PrepareRI Internship Program, Computer Science for Rhode Island (CS4RI), and the dual and concurrent enrollment and Advanced Course Network early college opportunities.
To learn more about PrepareRI, visit www.Prepare-RI.org.