Special Update: Career Pathways for FCPS Students

Dear Community Members,

Synergies grew among FCPS programs, local employers, and legislative advocacy in November to support providing students with career development experiences that prepare them for life after high school. Below, I'd like to share with you recent work and events I've participated in to continue elevating what FCPS can and should do to illuminate pathways for each student's success.

FCPS Career Education & Career Academies

Collage of Edison Academy pictures


My understanding of career education in FCPS comes largely from working as the Board’s liaison to the School Board’s Career & Technical Education Advisory Committee (CTEAC), now in my second year.

“Career and Technical Education”, or “CTE”, in FCPS includes: 

  • Business and Information Technology
  • Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Health and Medical Sciences
  • Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC)
  • Marketing
  • Technology Education and Engineering
  • Trade and Industrial Education

(Subcategories are included here).

By enrolling in a CTE offering, students learn the technical applications of many occupations while preparing for higher education or entry-level employment. A core, or standard, program of CTE courses is offered in every middle and high school. Based on the needs of the populations served, each school determines optional courses to be offered.

Furthermore, there are FCPS Academies - a high school Academy is a center within an existing high school that offers advanced technical and specialized courses that integrate career and academic preparation. Enrollments in the Academy elective course offerings provide students with career and academic preparation for postsecondary education and/or career fields. Students enrolling in Academy elective courses will participate in a variety of experiences including shadowing, mentoring, and/or internships with local businesses.

Many CTE courses offer curriculum-related services to the community! All services are performed by students in the pursuit of furthering their understanding and mastery of educational and industrial concepts. This can include providing veterinary services for pets, preparing food-to-order for school events and local customers, and even helping build a house to sell in the county!

These are amazing opportunities that all students and families should know about!

Recently I toured the Edison Academy, in Springfield, with volunteers on the CTEAC. I visited classes that could lead to credentials as a veterinary technician, electrician, HVAC specialist, and cybertech professional. Some students were taking CTE coursework to explore areas of interest, and to determine if they want to gain further credentials in that field. Others had already decided to achieve credentials so that they can enter the workforce as soon as possible after high school graduation. 

Lastly, the School Board is receiving a report about the career and technical education offerings at our December 13 Work Session. This will be live streamed and available on the FCPS You Tube channel afterwards. I’m really excited for this to help FCPS plan to expand access and opportunities!

Legislative Action to Promote Career Development in FCPS

The School Board and Superintendent hosted the delegation of elected Virginia General Assembly Members who represent Fairfax. This is an annual briefing that we provide, before the state’s General Assembly convenes in early January. I noted the legislative solutions for reducing barriers to bringing professionals in fields like cybersecurity into our FCPS Academies to teach classes that lead to industry certifications. Stay tuned for opportunities to join me in advocating for these solutions, too!

Davis Career Center 

School Board Member Meren with Davis Center Thanksgiving pies

The Davis Career Center (DCC) is its own school, located inside of the Marshall High School building. Its mission is: “Within safe and respectful classroom and community environments we will prepare and empower our students to live self-determined lives by providing opportunities for growth and learning in life, social, and vocational skills.”

This is a mission that I think can apply to all of our Fairfax schools. The DCC is unique, though, in that students here are ages 18-22, with a range of intellectual disabilities. 

I saw how DCC students are thriving and achieving! As I observed instruction; talked with students and staff; and learned about students’ jobs at local hotels, restaurants, and even FCPS facilities, I saw a model in action that prepares and empowers students for real-world success. 

Seeing their culinary skills, I soon after placed an order for Thanksgiving pies to serve to my family at our holiday dinner!

Partnership-Building for Workforce Impact

Educate Fairfax

Educate Fairfax Leaders and Learners breakfast

Educate Fairfax (formerly known as the “Foundation for FCPS”) held its Leaders and Learners breakfast. We heard about the work of the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation that generously supports public health career development for our students. I was pleased to celebrate Hunter Mill constituent Len Forkas for his leadership on the Educate Fairfax Board, particularly as the organization rebranded and launched an FCPS Alumni program! I am really jazzed about the Alumni program, and am working in several ways to connect our alumni with students to learn about journeys to workforce success.

Accessing Apprenticeships with Fairfax Employers

I joined constituent Julie Boncarosky Holmes, CEO of Virginia Tire & Auto, to celebrate the company’s enrollment into the state’s Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program! Held at the company’s Tysons Training & Technology Center, I learned more about how this local employer seeks to fill positions in what I call careers in “automotive computer sciences”. I had many fruitful conversations with company staff and the Department of Labor about what’s needed to get students passionate and ready for careers.

Melanie Meren and Julie Holmes

Integrating Computer Science with Instruction & Career Development

Melanie Meren at Computer Science event

Now in December, I was delighted to attend a celebration of the Code VA program as part of Computer Science Education Week, at Google’s Reston office. I was joined by Paul Berry, my appointee to CTEAC.

Two things I learned that I can help with as a Board Member are 1) work with the Superintendent to review policies in areas of computer science education and career preparation, to make them more integrated and to reflect current opportunities, and 2) advocate for a better balance between FCPS’s security approach for information technology and students’ access to platforms, websites, and experiences hosted by non-FCPS organizations. 

I also met local computer science professionals at Google, Lego, and other successful companies who are eager to expand partnerships with FCPS. So, I have some things to follow up on.

But really, it’s clear that computer science needs to be integrated into instruction, and explored by students for career opportunities. This doesn’t just mean “careers in IT”. I’d say that, for instance, a career as an “automotive technician” is in fact working in “automotive computer sciences” because now, cars are like computers on wheels. And understanding content management systems, purchasing systems in retail, and HVAC systems that now come wi-fi enabled all require that our students be savvy computer scientists. I’m excited to help expand this learning for students.

Contacting Me

I prioritize responses to Hunter Mill constituents, so please be sure to identify yourself as such if you contact me. If you are unsure of your county magisterial district, you can look that information up here.

To contact me, it is most helpful to please use the official School Board contact form. This form prioritizes emails to me from constituents, and helps me track communication so I can be sure you receive a response. Thank you for your cooperation.


Please take good care,

Melanie Meren


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