In the Academy of Business at Oxnard’s Pacifica High School, teacher Aaron Ferguson creates real-life learning experiences for students within the local business community, inspiring those of all ability levels to pursue challenging careers in business and preparing them to hit the ground running after high school and college. Through a partnership with Friends of Channel Islands Harbor, students in the “school within a school” Academy have created social media platforms to help local businesses market their services, yielding experience, connections and multiple summer internships in the process.
Ferguson puts students in the driver’s seat through project-based learning, emphasizing collaborative group work. His high standards and contagious can-do spirit increase both motivation and confidence for all students in the Academy. Ferguson’s students have delivered impressively under his care. Participation and enrollment in AP and honors courses are up, and Academy students perform well on state assessments and have high A-G completion rates (A-G courses are required for admission to California state universities). Last year, every student in the Academy of Business cohort graduated, despite a litany of family and other issues. Almost all are now in college.
Ferguson is a visible presence at Pacifica, an impressive feat on a campus of 3,000 students. He coordinates the “Win the Day Wednesday” segment on Pacifica’s daily live television broadcast, passing on college and career readiness information to the entire student body. Ferguson is also the senior class advisor, organizing important events like the senior barbecue and Grad Night. Because of Ferguson’s influence, both students and staff at Pacifica use Instagram and Twitter to showcase school projects and events and reinforce the school’s positive, college-bound culture. Ferguson coaches lacrosse; coordinates the Triton Transition program, through which older students mentor incoming freshmen to smooth their entry into high school; and is starting a social entrepreneurship program within the Academy of Business.
A former geological sciences consultant, Ferguson teaches ninth-grade Earth Science at Pacifica and geology at the local community college in addition to running the Academy. He serves as a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) coach, has led his grade-level team within the science department, mentors new teachers, sits on the district’s technology and career pathways committees, and has served as a site technology coach for his colleagues. Staff members consider him a natural leader and gravitate to him for advice, help and exemplary lessons.
Ferguson holds a bachelor’s in geology from California Lutheran University (2007) and a master’s in geosciences from Mississippi State University (2014).
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