Pleasanton Weekly

Column - March 11, 2011

ROP class helping Valley Humane Society

by Jeb Bing

Classmates in Amador Valley High's pet-focused ROP program are giving the Valley Humane Society much needed help as the Pleasanton-based organization works to complete its nearly $1 million new facility on Nevada Street. Still short of funds, VHS has turned to ROP teacher Laurie Andrews and the 24 students in her special marketing section for promotional advice and membership drive ideas. With continued strong community response, Lori Rice, chairwoman of the VHS board, hopes opening day can come this summer. The ROP class already has proposed water bottles, coffee mugs and T-shirts with dog and cat drawings as gifts to those who contribute. Customized sections of tile, which contributors can use to remember their furry four-legged pet with dates of significance and even a sketch etched in, are also part of the money-raising effort under way.

Andrews, who has taught in the ROP program for the last 20 years, works with 90 students in six class periods at Amador. A certified teacher, she works for the Tri-Valley ROP that serves the five high schools in Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore. Founded in 1972, the intent of the program is to provide quality career preparation and technical education opportunities. In Los Angeles and several other California school districts where Andrews has taught, the ROPs often were the last stop before high school graduation, giving students basic skills as they left to start their careers. In Pleasanton, Andrews finds that students learn and enjoy the technical skills ROP offers, but almost all of her students go on to college upon graduation. Many pursue majors in business, sports and entertainment management and now, with the emphasis on animal care, to veterinarian science at schools such as UC Davis.

Her 1 p.m. class that has chosen the Valley Humane Society for its class project also gains expertise in related fields, including pet care, conducting food drives for undernourished pets, even reading programs where the students teach much younger kids how to read to their pets. Andrews says they all enjoy the readings -- dogs, cats, bunnies and especially the children. Her pet-focused class is also well-versed in the social media, as most teenagers are, where they chat about different methods of marketing organizations such as Valley Humane to improve its outreach and fundraising campaigns. Each year, her ROP students seem wiser and more comfortable with Internet resources than the last, which means Andrews spends more of her off-time advancing her own Facebook/Twitter skills.

Her ROP classes vary in interests. One section is focused on sports and entertainment where she teaches them about management and marketing in these two fast-changing fields. Having spent time in Los Angeles in a district that has 22 different ROP programs and a central ROP center, she's had the benefit of industry leaders coming into her classes to help. Her earlier career in fashion merchandising and marketing also helps with contacts and experience in a profession that's always ripe for new ideas, especially those coming from teenagers. She recently took her sports and entertainment marketing class to Los Angeles where they had a chance to see the Staples Center, talk with senior management and work on different marketing scenarios for the Los Angeles Clippers.

As a college preparatory course, Andrews' ROP may not measure up to "Macbeth" or World History, but it's more fun and gives students a look at exciting career opportunities outside the classroom. If they could, even the cats and dogs that the classmates cuddle and walk would give this ROP project a paws-up.

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