Monday, March 19, 2018


(story by Jim Darcey, Owner of Copy Central Burbank)

I recently attended the Burbank Unified School District State of the Schools gathering held in February.  I found out about some high school programs that accelerate career development and exposure, and wanted to learn more about them and share that information with the community. 

Programs such as those that now exist in the two Burbank High Schools (Burroughs and Burbank) are great illustrations of how high school education can help students open doors to career opportunities.

I arranged a meeting with Alyson Edge, who oversees the programs in both high schools that include NAF Business, Engineering and Medical Academies.  She has been involved with these programs for over 22 years. The first program, started in 1992, was the Academy of Finance at Burbank High School. It was more recently renamed the Business Academy, and as of this school year the Medical and Engineering Academies have opened in both high schools.

Alyson enthusiastically oriented me to the scope of the programs. 

The great thing about these programs is how they help students connect what they are learning with real world career opportunities and practical applications.  Many students do not remain engaged with rigorous education when it is presented “in a vacuum” where the practical value is not clear. The exposure in these Academies eliminates that vacuum.

In addition, many students get to college and are still very unsure of a career direction, thus risking the experience of an unfocused college experience that leaves them unprepared for a career after graduation.  

Combining the enrollments in both high schools, these academies currently have over 400 participants and will continue to grow with 390 pending applications.

Alyson noted that in the earlier years of the National Academy Foundation, the purpose started out to be an orientation program for students wanting to pursue work opportunities in the business world but who did not necessarily have an interest in college.  It was intended to be career preparation in place of college.

However, what has materialized has been that the students engaged in these programs became more motivated to pursue further higher education.  Many began to see that further education would just expand their opportunities. 

The programs at both Burbank high schools are affiliated with NAF, a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure high school students are college, career, and future ready.  NAF supports the programs with curriculum guidelines and other resources. You can learn more about NAF at  

The Burbank High School Business Academy recently organized a morning presentation where the students in the academy each presented an overview of their personal career objectives and projections of their own budgets, expected earnings and related elements. Members of the community had the opportunity to meet with the students individually, ask them questions and provide some feedback to them.   I had the opportunity to visit with four different students and was very impressed with their level of forward thinking and preparedness for their futures. 

Here are some photographs of the students with their presentations. 

Clockwise from upper left: Gohar Hayrapetyan, Ali Rahman, Daniella Rezko and Joaquin Ardon

Beyond the classroom time in the program, the students get the opportunity to go on field trips to visit businesses related to their career interests, field trips to universities and trade schools that might fit their directions; plus they are required to participate in internships that let them put their education in to practical use.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the level of engagement of the students.

Having programs like this in our local schools can immensely help our young citizens 
grow into the leaders of our community up ahead.  

I applaud the work of Alyson and her associates, and would encourage anyone to look in to the programs and support them.

Alyson can be reached via her email address:

Included here also is the link to the website that covers the academies in more detail: