Substantial grant award supports CTE program

Substantial grant award supports CTE program
Posted on 03/25/2020
first overnight backpacking tripPlumas Charter School has been awarded several extensive career technical education (CTE) grants, Executive Director Taletha Washburn announced earlier this month. The grants will allow the school to significantly extend its CTE program, as well as host a regional CTE coordinator.

The grants are offered by the K12 Strong Workforce Program, administered by the California Community Colleges organization. They are intended to strengthen pathways between K–12 education and community college, for students pursuing either academic or vocational goals, in order to build a capable future workforce for the state.

PCS already has a CTE pathway program, which currently offers high school students six CTE “pathways”: Patient Care; Public Safety; Software and Systems Development; Agriscience; Food Service and Hospitality; and Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation. Each pathway enables students to explore a career area in depth by taking four classes; most classes are currently available online or through concurrent enrollment at Feather River College.

The new grant funds will serve to support the expansion of PCS’s CTE program in five major ways: by enabling PCS to develop more hands-on CTE classes delivered by PCS teachers, by providing for the CTE credentialing of PCS teachers, by expanding community partnerships, by allowing PCS to expand current pathways and develop new ones, and by funding a regional CTE coordinator position to be hosted by PCS.

Hands-on classes
This year, PCS’s outdoor education coordinator, Courtney Gomola, has been piloting a hands-on introductory course for the Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation pathway, focusing on outdoor recreation. Her classes, available at both PCS’s
Quincy Learning Center and Indian Valley Academy (Taylorsville), have taken students on many adventures, exploring the natural environment of Plumas County to learn about local ecology as well as outdoor skills. In October, students from each site even embarked on their first overnight backpacking trip!

The new grants will enable PCS to develop more hands-on classes like Gomola’s, in which students will learn in person from an expert in the field.

CTE credentialing
Gomola has also been acting in a new role for PCS this year by taking over leadership of a CTE pathway. In the past, pathways were administered by students’ other teachers, without a specific leader to “ground” exploration of any particular career area, said Washburn.

“We’re in a unique position to have highly qualified enrichment staff already in place to take ownership of these CTE pathways,” said Washburn.

The new grant funds will cover CTE credentialing for PCS instructors. This type of credentialing, which is based on experience in a field, will be a first for the school. Each CTE pathway instructor has already applied for his/her preliminary credential; the grants will pay for teachers to take the six courses needed for full credentialing, plus provide stipends.

“We are proud to support our amazing enrichment staff by providing them with these opportunities for professional development,” said Washburn.

Community partnerships
A priority in the CTE program expansion will be community partnerships, said Washburn. For each pathway, PCS will seek and strengthen relationships with local businesses and organizations active in that field. Partners will provide valuable input on the latest career needs and developments in their industries, enabling PCS’s programs to be a relevant as possible.

Washburn said that local internships will also be offered, giving students the opportunity to gain valuable job experience.
PCS’s existing partnership with Feather River College will also be strengthened through the CTE program.

Pathway expansion
Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation
Gomola’s Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation pathway, which had been relying on gear donated by families and community members, will receive essential outdoor equipment through these grant funds. Items like raincoats, water filtration kits, tents, cook sets, and sleeping bags will allow students to camp, backpack, and attend day trips.

The grants will also purchase a van for exclusive outdoor recreation use.

Gomola said she hopes to use local vendors when possible, and she is also seeking promotional deals through outdoor supply companies.

Gomola has a master’s degree in ecology and teaching experience with students of all ages.

PCS’s garden educator, Leslie Pace, will be taking responsibility for the Agriscience pathway. The farm she is developing under her nonprofit, the Lost Sierra Food Project, will also be used to offer hands-on lessons for PCS students.

The CTE grants will help purchase needed supplies and equipment for creating a learning farm environment.

Pace has a master of natural resources degree and has worked with farms and school gardens for the past decade.

Forestry and Natural Resources
Gomola and Pace will be joining forces to create a new pathway for PCS: Forestry and Natural Resources. “This pathway is in alignment with industry in our region,” said Washburn. “It will allow students to learn about career ideas close to home in Plumas County.”

The grant funds will enable purchase of specialized equipment necessary for these studies.

Patient Care
Danielle Plocki, who recently became credentialed as PCS’s school nurse, will be assuming leadership for the Patient Care pathway. She is a registered nurse who has provided long-term patient care locally, and she has worked with children for many years through dramaworks’s Magic Beanstalk Players youth theater program in Quincy.

Arts, Media, and Entertainment
Two PCS enrichment instructors, Greg Willis and Rebecca Glaspy, will be collaborating to create another new CTE pathway for PCS: Arts, Media, and Entertainment. “This pathway builds on our strong history of supporting arts education at PCS,” said Washburn. “Students may be inspired to pursue jobs in the arts, even if this means they leave our rural area.”

Willis holds a bachelor’s degree in music/composition and has been teaching music classes at PCS for five years in addition to offering private lessons for all ages out of his home studio. He has expanded PCS offerings to include music craft classes, in which students create their own musical instruments, and digital audio, in which students learn to create and manipulate music using computers.

Glaspy has a bachelor’s degree in art, and has been teaching art classes to all ages of PCS students for five years. Her classes allow students to explore many different mediums and styles: sculpture, collage, comic books, puppetry, and hands-on study of famous paintings are just a few.

CTE coordinator position
PCS is proud to have been selected from multiple applicants to host the newly established regional CTE coordinator position. The coordinator will “lead efforts countywide around CTE,” said Washburn. While employed by PCS, the coordinator will work with all local education agencies (schools) in the Feather River Community College District.

For more information on the position, read the full coordinator job description on the school’s website at (choose Employment under About PCS). Applications will be accepted until April 15.

PCS is a public school offering personalized education for students in grades K–12 from Plumas and adjacent counties. Learning centers are located in Quincy, Greenville, Taylorsville, and Chester. Learn more by visiting the school’s Facebook page or calling (530) 283-3851.

By Ingrid Burke, Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]

In the photo: Indian Valley Academy students experience the beauty of Plumas County’s backcountry during their first overnight backpacking trip in October. The class was part of Plumas Charter School’s expanding career technical education offerings; several new grants will enable further CTE developments. From left: Ciera Hymas, Ryan Carpenter, and Aaron Tiegs. Photo by Courtney Gomola

Click the image below to read the full job description!
pathway coordinator position

Map of all California CTE pathways:
CTE poster