by: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Dr. Rudy Crew, Oregon's chief education officer, talks with broadcasting seniors Donna Esparza (from left), Stephanie Davis, Lexie Polzel and Madelyn Odegaard at the Sabin-Schellenberg Career-Technical Center last week. Dr. Rudy Crew, Oregon’s chief education officer, fell in love with the Sabin-Schellenberg Career-Technical Center during his tour of the campus in North Clackamas last week.

Crew ordered a black cup of joe from student baristas at Sabin’s Mud Hut, declaring it “great.” Then, waylaying the tour plans on Dec. 18, emanating scents enticed him into the Culinary Arts classroom, where students were rolling up bûches de Noël. After a carpentry student gave him another type of Yule log, a branch fashioned to hold three tea lights, he spent minutes admiring the piece.

Crew noted that he was most impressed after conversing with broadcasting seniors Donna Esparza, Stephanie Davis, Lexie Polzel and Madelyn Odegaard about their live reporting on election day. If these students ever wanted to apply for an open position at the Oregon Department of Education, it seemed like they would have a leg up against the competition.

by: PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Registered nurse and Sabin-Schellenberg Career-Technical Center teacher Lyn Gray meets Dr. Rudy Crew, Oregon's chief education officer, during a Dec. 18 tour.“What I saw was this station of themselves, or this carriage of themselves, that will help them get jobs,” Crew said, referencing the Legislature’s special session on a potential Nike expansion. “The worry I have is that there are places in Oregon that are getting new infusions of jobs and that Oregon students won’t be ready.”

Principal Karen Phillips argued that it is no accident that Sabin students learn these so-called “executive skills” such as positive attitude, professional dress and public speaking. All 15 of the center’s career courses have integrated executive training into teachers’ discussions of nursing, welding, cosmetology, forestry and other technical fields.

“You don’t have any background in retail, but you have professionalism,” Phillips said various storeowners have stated upon hiring Sabin alumni.

Program could grow

by: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Rudy Crew talks with students, including Keaton Newberry, about their plans after high school. The state's chief education officer would like to see more students with solid career plans.“Where would this program expand?” asked Crew of the four School Board members, two union presidents and other school officials who participated in the tour. “I’m thinking about how to do this on a state perspective to give students access to technical and high-tech jobs.”

Superintendent Matt Utterback was full of ideas to help Crew clarify his thinking. Seventy percent of the 4,600 students in North Clackamas’ three high schools take buses every other day to classes at Sabin, but the center could open on weekends or nights to accommodate more students.

Sabin used to get $2.6 million per biennium to video its programs for distribution to students statewide, Utterback pointed out, but the Legislature cut funding for the only public technical education center in the state that serves students across a region. Ten of the closest school districts used to send students to Sabin, but money dried up for that as well.

“One of the things that we’re looking into is how we regionalize this skills center even more for other areas in the county,” Utterback said.

Utterback spoke with Crew, while manufacturing teacher Mark Lynch showed off his students’ comprehensive wielding skills that have gotten them unionized positions right out of high school. The students also welded a horn-shaped arbor for Milwaukie’s View Acres Elementary Vikings, installed last month in the school’s outdoor garden classroom.

“Walking through these buildings today, we were so proud,” said School Board Chairman Rein Vaga, adding that he would probably support a construction bond for expansions.

Students who attend Sabin two or more years become much more likely to graduate from NCSD, and this group does so at a rate well exceeding 90 percent.

Crew has stressed the importance of schools emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math by hiring Mike Seelig as the state’s director of strategic education initiatives. Seelig toured with the group who wanted the state to invest some of its millions of dollars set aside for STEM into Sabin as it explores potential for new programs in advanced manufacturing, clean technology and high tech, areas of planned economic development in Oregon. At their meeting on Thursday, School Board members approved a new robot engineering course at Sabin starting next year.

But Crew made clear that he wasn’t going to let his love for Sabin blind him to the potential pitfalls of a larger, state-funded expansion effort. He supports career and technical education, “done correctly,” for its ability to inspire confidence in students.

“I want that for every child in the state, but we need to be careful,” he said. “This can’t be helter-skelter and has to be part of a statewide strategy.”

Vaga and a couple of other school officials agreed to meet again with Crew to work on details of a proposal. They will analyze Sabin’s master plan and discuss how much an expansion could increase graduation rates for extra students.

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