North County’s Vibrant Education Ecosystem

While some industries continue to struggle in a post-recession economy, North San Diego County’s education ecosystem is thriving. An abundance of diverse educational options contributes to the region’s overall high quality of life. Local businesses can confidently grow and expand knowing that upcoming talent is being fostered. Communities will benefit as these students enter the workforce and contribute locally.

Consider the past two decades.  California State University San Marcos has launched and seen considerable growth.   They now educate over 12,000 students per year in a multitude of disciplines.  Palomar and Mira Costa Community Colleges have also expanded their campuses, locations and services to better meet the needs of local businesses and students. In addition, smaller boutique colleges have established and grown to serve niche communities.  St. Katherine College in San Marcos now attracts students from 16 different states. Also with a campus in San Marcos is St. Augustine University for Health Services that prepares graduate students for careers in healthcare.

In addition, John Paul the Great Catholic University in Escondido began in 2006 and recently achieved full accreditation status.   They now educate several hundred undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of business entrepreneurship, biblical theology, and communications media.  The options and opportunities are vast and abundant, providing thriving educational options for students of all ages, demographics, and income levels.

High-quality options are just as diverse and impressive for students in grades K-12.  On the district side, Del Lago Academy offers a unique biotech focus that strives to prepare future scholars, innovators, and world citizens.   Quantum Academy just opened in Escondido and aims to inspire confident leaders who impact the community through empathy, creativity, and innovation.  Similarly, Vista’s Innovation and Design Academy is focusing on “design thinking” to inspire students to be creative in solving problems and serving people.

Private schools provide additional diversity and options that contribute to a vibrant North County.  St. Joseph’s Academy, Pacific Ridge, Tri-City Christian, Cathedral Catholic, and The Rhoades School are just a few of the local schools elevating the region by providing excellent education options for families and students with distinct beliefs.

In addition to traditional public and private school options, North County charter schools are also flourishing by leaps and bounds.  The Classical Academies opened its’ first elementary charter school in Escondido in 1999 with 200 students.  They now educate over 4,000 students in seven locations in Escondido, Vista, and Oceanside.  In fact, currently many of the programs have yearlong waiting lists as the demand for the tuition-free programs continues to rise.

The Classical Academy’s mission is to “partner with parents” to inspire students to think critically, communicate effectively and achieve excellence. This is achieved through a personalized approach to education. Families are given a multitude of academic options from which to choose from, including traditional classroom based learning, independent study, online, or a hybrid blend of these. This flexibility allows parents and teachers to design and create personalized learning plans that best meets a student’s individual learning styles and needs.

And, what are the results from this non-traditional approach to learning and education?  This past year Classical Academy High School was nationally ranked as Newsweek Magazines Top 500 schools. They have an impressive graduation rate of 99% and a pass rate of 87.5 % for the 200+ students who took Advanced Placement tests.

In 2014, The Classical Academies were awarded the first place prize for the Union Tribune’s Top Workplace Award for midsize companies, with an annual survey showing a parent satisfaction rate of over 95%.

In addition to all the high-quality academic options, the North County education ecosystem is also collaborative.  Charter schools generally have good relationships with their authorizing districts.   There are regular events where business, education, and the community come together to educate, inspire, and equip the region.  The North County Economic Development Corporation plays a proactive role in stimulating the conversation between education, the community, and business.

In particular, the Carlsbad Beach Fest is a fun-filled, annual celebration of coastal environmental stewardship, education, and public outreach.  Another regional event, Super STEM Saturday (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) welcomes over 6,000 guests to California State University San Marcos annually. This interactive, educational event, held in partnership with The Classical Academies, allows students and their families to explore, learn, and discover science, technology, engineering, and math by utilizing interactive hands-on events and activities. Hundreds of volunteers, faculty, and businesses work together to make this free educational event possible.

With the array of innovative educational options ranging from kindergarten through college, North County provides fertile soil for businesses to locate, grow and expand regionally with confidence. Strong schools lead to a healthy educational landscape that provides a vibrant quality of life, robust economy, and thriving community. As Ben Franklin said many years ago, “An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends.”

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