Posted by: Tom Ross | September 10, 2013

Boots on the Ground

[Click on the title above to view on the CTE Central Blog website.]

Some people hit the ground running. This is one such success story.

From an early age Caitlin Morris knew what she wanted to do. She wanted to teach, preferably life sciences. “I had no idea how to begin,” she said. “I wasn’t even sure at what grade level.”

In high school she took a smart and lucky first step when she shadowed a kindergarten teacher, Renee Marshall. “I felt like I was on the right path,” Caitlin remembers. And Ms. Marshall, it turns out, was a good person to know.

In her first year at College of the Canyons (COC) Caitlin learned of a program called TEACH that is part of the CTE Teacher Preparation Pipeline at COC.

TEACH was developed in direct response to the strong need for teachers in the secondary and post-secondary levels of education to teach Career Technical Education Industry Sectors and Career Pathways. The program’s new director helped resurrect the TEACH Program after it was refunded and designed it to include workshops, professional development, and networking services.


And the new director was: Renee Marshall.

Caitlin says that the TEACH Program provided her with opportunities and the kinds of experience she could never have achieved on her own.

“In fact, during my time at COC,” she continued, “I was able to teach preschool at the COC Lab School as well as supervise a CTE based summer camp on campus called the COC Summer Institute where junior high and high school students attend for a week of CTE curriculum (welding, culinary arts, health science, etc).”

“As a student intern I took part in many events that the program coordinated: I led TEACH students/volunteers in a facilitated activity for Jr. high/high school students based on science and math. And I helped reach out to high school students in their schools to tell them about the TEACH Program and the benefits of teaching CTE-based subjects. After that I became more involved in student advisement as a TEACH program assistant where I helped plan and run events and workshops for students and community members. “

Caitlin eventually became Director Marshall’s assistant in the TEACH Program. “I worked part-time helping students and community members reach their career goals. The TEACH Program helps students by providing positions in the COC Summer Institute (facilitating placement in specific interests), coordinating multiple activities at large community events for early childhood education experience, and holding workshops on interview skills and resume articulation.”

Caitlin also assists with the Future Educators Club, which provides guidance for high school students, COC students, and community members. “I gained such confidence and experience from the TEACH Program,” she says.

Caitlin just recently changed positions at College of the Canyons: she is now a curriculum coordinator.

In this new position, she coordinates curriculum and instructors in local agencies such as the LAPD, LA County Fire Department, and LA County Sheriff’s Department through the college. “In a nutshell, we have agreements between agencies, colleges, and the state that allow us to offer public safety personnel units [to professionals] for the state training courses they are mandated to complete. I work with the VP of Academic Affairs to identify and write the curriculum as well as process instructors for each course—basically transform [the curricula] into legitimate college courses worth units under our state guidelines. So far, it’s been fantastic!”

Maitlin_ReneeCaitlin and Renee

“I’m still involved with the TEACH Program, however, and thank the Director every day. Without the experience she and the Program itself provided me, I never would have landed this position!”

Caitlin Pass (now married and with a new last name) is a clear example of how the CTE Teacher Prep Pipeline works.

For more on work-based learning, have a look at one of our previous blog posts.


  1. More CTE news from the College of the Canyons:
    Providing students an opportunity to ‘test drive’ the career or job industry of their choice, on September 28 College of the Canyons will host its fourth annual College2Career Day event at the Valencia campus.

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