Students at Chaffey High School (Chaffey Joint Union School District) participate in a new Mental and Behavioral Health pathway offered by Baldy View ROP. The pathway is helping students raise their personal awareness of mental health while exploring career opportunities in this field.
Could these students help fill the mental health worker gap?
How to empower high schoolers with CTE skills needed in challenging times
October 17, 2022
Over the summer, 45 high school students signed up for an introductory course on a subject they’ve grown all too familiar with: mental health.
The teens are taking part in a new Mental and Behavioral Health Career Pathway offered at their schools that aims to channel the national conversation about mental health into a new personal awareness of the subject and possibly even a future career in the behavioral health profession that is severely understaffed.
With everything young people have been through in the last three years, it’s no surprise these students were interested in learning about mental health, said Rose Ann Bomentre, Ed.D., assistant superintendent of Educational Services at Baldy View Regional Occupational Program, which provides CTE courses for students in four school districts — Chaffey Joint Union, Chino Valley Unified, Claremont Unified and Upland Unified.
“Now people are listening,” she said. “Now everyone is talking about this, even though the need and the pathway already existed.”
Bomentre said many people don’t know the California Department of Education has an existing career pathway for Mental and Behavioral Health listed under the Health Science and Medical Technology industry sector.
“It is an area much-needed, but oftentimes seen as an extra instead of an area that can be a focus area, just like English or math or history,” Bomentre said. “By using what CDE has had listed as a career pathway long before the pandemic to develop it now is exciting. We have the full support of our superintendent, Dr. Shelley Adams, and our governing commission to ensure our youth have access to this career pathway.”
Bomentre, new teachers Laura Ortega and Mathew Santos, and coordinator Helena Zarate-Simolin helped create BVROP’s Mental and Behavioral Health Career Pathway, which consists of three courses for high school students in all grade levels to earn credits, knowledge and skills in this high-demand industry. All three courses are UC-CSU approved “g” College Preparatory Electives that also support BVROP’s high school partners with their College and Career Readiness indicators on the California School Dashboard.
Course 1 was the summer 2022 Introductory course that gave students the opportunity to earn five high school credits. Students explored social-emotional learning, introduction to DSM-5 concepts, healthy mental/behavioral health practices, stress management and coping strategies during the four-week course offered at both Chaffey High and Claremont High.
The students wrote in journals about why they are interested in behavioral health. Several mentioned their own mental health struggles, and those of their friends and family, as reasons for signing up.
One student wrote: “2020 was a crazy year! I would like to learn how to communicate more and to learn self-control.”
“I would like to learn more about the psychology behind mental behavior, including how trauma affects the brain,” wrote another student, who took the summer course when she couldn’t get into an AP Psychology class. “I am very interested in psychology and sociology and would like to know more about the subjects so I can decide if I want to pursue a career involving that.”
Course 2 is a CTE concentrator course that is being offered in 2022-23 as a yearlong 10-credit course at Chaffey High School, Claremont High School and San Antonio High School, or as an evening semester 10-hour per week course at BVROP’s Career Training Center in Ontario. This course will cover topics such as social-emotional learning skills, trauma-informed care, neuroscience, adverse childhood experiences, mindfulness, and an overview of school-based health services. Students will also be trained in teen Mental Health First Aid and receive an industry certification by the National Council of Well-Being that is valid for three years.
“Our hope is that we teach our youth how to do this work and then they leave a legacy on their campus.”
— Rose Ann Bomentre, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Baldy View ROP
In the third course, which is planned for 2023-24, students will gain real-world experience by learning how to establish school-based health services on their own campuses. Students will have the opportunity to learn about community-based organizations and how their school may be a hub of services for students and families. Mental and Behavioral Health 2 students will also work with their instructors to plan a Spring 2024 Wellness Symposium in which relevant workshop topics will be offered for secondary students on one day and for parents/caregivers/school staff on a second day.
“Students will learn how to assess the needs of their community and school and how to bring community-based organizations to campus. It builds a community school culture with a hub of services on campus, and they will learn how to collaborate and lead with partnerships and shared leadership,” Bomentre said. “I have learned and experienced that our youth tend to move faster with initiatives such as these and are able to provide voice and choice to how we may support them.”
Baldy View ROP is currently a member of the CA School-Based Health Alliance, which Bomentre said has helped tremendously in getting this career pathway off the ground. The program is also guided by an advisory board, which will gain student members this fall.
“Our hope is that we teach our youth how to do this work and then they leave a legacy on their campus,” Bomentre said.
For more information on the Mental and Behavioral Health Career Pathway courses or any Career Technical Education pathways that Baldy View ROP offers, visit
Rancho Cucamonga High School students Yazmin Galina, 17, and Samantha Torres, 17, attend Baldy View ROP Career Training Center, which is offering a 10-hour-per-week evening course on mental and behavioral health careers this school year.
Baldy View Regional Occupational Program staff focused on self-care and restorative practices during a weeklong PD session in July. “We wanted to model what we want our teachers to be in the classroom,” said Rose Ann Bomentre, Ed.D., who just helped launch a Mental and Behavioral Health Career Pathway offered by BVROP. “Cabinet and management learned and practiced the same content with each other as adults that we are teaching our high schoolers.”
Baldy View Regional Occupational Program staff chose an inspirational word as an exercise during a weeklong PD session.
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