An Extern participating in his field placement at Boeing

Accessing Career Connected Experiences for Student Success (ACCESS)

We believe that all students need knowledge of the skills and pathways that allow them to pursue high-demand careers in our region. Because one teacher can impact over 150 students a year, a powerful way to improve student perceptions about career opportunities and preparedness is to build teacher knowledge and instructional capacity regarding career-connected learning, with a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).


The ACCESS STEM program is a partnership between businesses and educators that brings relevant, engaging student learning experiences using authentic workplace scenarios to the classroom. The goal of this partnership is to have more students be able to access post-secondary certification and move into the future workforce with the 21st Century skills they need to thrive.

How does the program work?

  • In the summer, teachers participate in a 5-day online workplace immersion, supported with 5 days of professional development. For summer 2021, the summer dates are 7/5-7/9 and 7/12-7/16.
  • During the school year, educators work on teams of 3-4 educators and 3-4 industry volunteers to translate the workplace experiences into their classroom.  Each team chooses a product to create.  The overall goals of these products are to bring students relevant, work-based problems, to see the importance of 21st Century skills in their future careers, and to have access to real industry partners/voices.  These learning experiences provide relevance and bring career connections to the classroom to impact students.  The teams meet for nine 2-hour after-school meetings during the first semester.  We are currently planning for these two-hour meetings to be hosted virtually. However, depending on COVID restrictions at the time, we may strive for some in-person meetings. 
  • Industry partners contribute by discussing the skills needed to be successful in their industry and career opportunities in their sector, and by sharing stories of real problems being solved in their workplace. Industry partners also often visit classrooms to mentor students, discuss careers, or launch a problem. We aim for these industry/educator relationships to be long-lasting.
  • In the spring, educators get a release day to participate in their choice of spring sessions on exploring pathways and Career Connected Learning with industry.
  • Participants celebrate their hard work at the annual Showcase of Success in May, an evening event with attendees including district superintendents, community leaders, and elected officials.

Who are the educator participants?

  • All 4th-12th grade teachers, including science, math, CTE, humanities, AVID, ELL, and Special Education teachers
  • School counselors, library media specialists, instructional coaches, TOSAs, and curriculum specialists

What industries do we partner with?

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Aerospace
  • Agricultural
  • Architecture/Construction
  • Biomedical/Healthcare
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • Maritime
  • Public Sector
  • Research
  • Retail
  • Technology
  • Transportation

Why do educators want to get involved?

By participating, educators will:

  • Increase their industry awareness and involvement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
  • Bring engaging, work-based problems to their classrooms to help all students be able to change their perceptions around pathways and skills needed in the workforce. Develop problem-based lessons that are aligned to state standards, and that incorporate 21st Century skills and information about career and educational pathways they observed in action at a worksite.
  • Grow their leadership skills by bringing program learnings to colleagues and through opportunities for post-program mentoring and facilitating opportunities.

Why is this needed?

Teachers are in a powerful position to influence student aspirations and provide access to experiences that build confidence and career awareness. Businesses have a unique opportunity to help develop a qualified pipeline of future employees prepared to meet tomorrow’s challenges. By partnering industry with teachers, we can increase the pool of talent in the Puget Sound region.

“For me it was an amazing, eye-opening experience. It gave me a new perspective on the application of STEM, 21st Century Skills, and problem-based learning to the classroom.”        

– Teacher Participant

Barbara Bromley 4th/5th-grade teacher at Hazlewood Elementary in Edmonds School District, along with some of her students, talk about the collaboration between teachers and industry partners and how 21st Century skills, problem-based learning, and career experiences benefit students.

For more information, please contact Van Onishi at

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