Resolution of Unity, Resolve and Resilience
The 325,000 members of CTA and CCA are committed to making sure all California’s students get the public education they deserve. Consider adopting this Resolution of Unity, Resolve and Resilience or use it to create your own.
Resolution 
Our Union Makes Us Strong
There are so many benefits from being a member of the largest and most influential professional association of educators in the state.
Find out more in CCA’s handout, “Our Union Makes Us Strong," which is also available in a more condensed two-page hand-out and a tri-fold brochure.
The Advocate - April 2017
The Advocate - December 2016
The Advocate - October 2016
The Advocate - June 2016
The Advocate - April 2016
The Advocate - December 2015
The Advocate - October 2015
The Advocate - July/ August 2015
The Advocate - May/ June 2015
The Advocate - March/April 2015
The Advocate - November 2014
CCA Stories: What I Did Before I Taught at a Community College
Although teaching is a long-established and respected profession in of itself, many a professor who enters the community college environment comes from an entirely different career path – and that’s a good thing. In community colleges, more so than the K-12 or four-year colleges and universities, real-world work experience is not only accepted, it is valued and sought-after. Even with that, however, making a professional career change has its challenges. Here’s how several CCA members responded to questions from The Advocate.
 
Cliff Harris, Biology Instructor, West Hills College, Lemoore
 
What did you do previously?
I am a retired surgeon, boarded in vascular and general surgery, who practiced for 20 years.
 
Your motivation to change careers?
At the time I left medicine I was working 100-plus hours a week doing approximately 600 major surgeries a year for several years. I fell 25 feet out of a tree, hitting my head on a bridge on the way down resulting in significant trauma to my neck and the nerves to my right arm in addition to my poor head. During my convalescence and rehabilitation, I examined my situation and recognized that I did not like the medical care administered at the hospital I was working at or their interest in trying to improve that care. I also had children who were entering junior high school, I didn’t want to keep working like I had before.
 
Greatest challenge for you in changing careers?
The greatest challenge is adapting your mind to the changes in your personal life that you encounter, and there are many and of significant variety.
 
What’s the greatest reward?
The greatest rewards are to have seen my own kids grow into adults, and to relive my early years by watching them develop.
 
How did your previous experiences help you to become the instructor you are now?
I bring a discipline and work ethic necessary to success, but which is sadly lacking in most of today’s students. I try to make my students understand that it isn’t the academic knowledge they get out of education that is valuable but the ability to think and evaluate. 
 
Luisa Howell, Spanish Instructor, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut
 
What did you do previously?
I worked as an Outside Plant Engineer for Pacific Bell from 1978 to 1988, was home with my six kids from 1988 to 1993 and taught Spanish at the University of Nebraska at Omaha from 1993 to 2002 before I joined Mt. SAC.

Your motivation to change careers?
My first change was due to the six kids we had to raise. My second change was due to looking for a more family-friendly state in which to raise the kids as California was moving a bit too fast for us, and the third time was just wanting to return to live in California.

Greatest challenge for you in changing careers?

If anything I was more challenged when I took the engineering job as my degrees were in languages. It was at the height of the Women’s Movement and large corporations were eager to hire and train women in non-traditional positions. I was a bit concerned when coming to the community college. Lucky for me here at Mt. SAC, they offered a large array of professional development classes so I took everything they had to offer within my first two years here.

What’s the greatest reward?
The greatest reward I’ve had is being able to have the privilege of contributing to the growth of our youth.

How did your previous experiences help you to become the instructor you are now?
Learning the engineering job and working at it as I did for 10 years from having had a humanities background, taught me that indeed we can do pretty much anything we set our mind to do. I know that everyone is not ready at the same time for the same things, so not all my students are ready for some of the things that I aim to do in class, but I keep planting all kinds of seeds whenever I can. 
 
John Paine, Physical Education Instructor, Coach, Victor Valley College, Victor Valley
 
What did you do previously?
I wish I could say my career has always been in education, but unfortunately my life traveled down many different paths. Sailing for two years as a merchant seaman and being drafted into the Marine Corp after high school wasn’t in the plans. Two other events that greatly impacted my career were Prop 13, which cut funds significantly in education, and ethnic quota hiring practices. With a Bachelor’s in Physical Education in one hand and nowhere to go in the other, it’s amazing what one will do to survive! From the top of Bandini Mountain to underwater basket weaving—hot air balloon and rattan goods; from managing a country rock band to a sales managing position of a highly competitive lumber company.

Your motivation to change careers?
After 15 years of an on-again off-again career in the lumber business I finally said, “Enough was enough,” and left in ’92 to once again pursue teaching.

Greatest challenge for you in changing careers?

Here I was getting back into education with a family to support at the age of 48. The safety net that I had in the lumber business was now gone along with the medical insurance it provided. Time has a way of working things out, however, and after three months of substituting and teaching a summer school class at Apple Valley Middle School I was hired full-time as a physical education instructor. Six years later I was hired full-time at VVC.

What’s the greatest reward?
There are so many rewards: the wonderful atmosphere that you find in academia...the intellectual stimulation, but probably my chief reward has been the knowledge that I’ve made a genuine positive difference in the lives of my students.

How did your previous experiences help you to become the instructor you are now?
The suitcase of experience I have been able to bring into the classroom and onto the field has been invaluable. I’ve learned that it’s not only about winning, but about helping my student athletes develop character and achieve goals they once thought were impossible. The classroom is not just about academics, but about learning how to work together, learning how to establish healthy relationships and learning about life. 
 
Alison Salome, Assistant Professor of Engineering Support Technology, Sierra College
 
What did you do previously?
Prior to entering the teaching field in 1996, I worked for 13 years in the manufacturing engineering field. As a manufacturing engineer and mechanical designer, I specialized in the design and manufacturing of food packaging equipment and conveyance systems.

Your motivation to change careers?

Working as an engineer I was constantly in the market to hire engineering support persons and drafters. I found that most training programs were not sufficiently training individuals to directly enter the workforce without further on-the-job training. I began seriously thinking about what a well-structured curriculum would look like to put people directly into the workforce. When a position opened, I gave up my very well-paying engineering career and stepped into my first classroom.

Greatest challenge for you in changing careers?

It probably goes without saying that Engineers make a much larger salary than first-year teachers, or 15-year teachers for that matter. Aside from that, a good teacher needs to have many ways of explaining a concept. Each individual student learns differently and there were quite a number of times during that first year that I ran out of ways to explain a concept before my students reached understanding. I still experience frustration with the methods for purchasing equipment and supplies. In industry you write a proposal, get a quote, drop it on your manager’s desk and a few days later, your supplies are delivered. Learning to navigate the educational procurement process can be very discouraging for someone who has worked in industry.

What’s the greatest reward?
Seeing my students go into the workplace and not only succeed, but excel. I receive many letters and e-mails detailing student success and their quick advancement resulting from curriculum that is tailored to the needs of the industry.

How did your previous experiences help you to become the instructor you are now?
My previous experience has been absolutely essential in designing and delivering real-world experiences and workplace problem sets to my students. 
 
Diane Van Deusen, Professor of Mathematics, Napa Valley College
 
What did you do previously?
I worked in the restaurant business. Catering, bartending and waiting tables, even a little cooking.

Your motivation to change careers?
My daughter, who was born when I was 26. After I turned 30, I realized that I didn’t want to be away from her every night and that I wanted her to be proud of me. Also, I started looking ahead and realizing I didn’t want to be in a dead-end job in another 10 years.

Greatest challenge for you in changing careers?

Supporting myself and my daughter as a single mom while going to school. It took me 10 years to get my master’s degree.

What’s the greatest reward?

I love my job, the monetary benefits, retirement, financial stability, respect for myself, -- and my daughter is now a junior in college and a economics major and talking about grad school. That’s the best!

How did your previous experiences help you to become the instructor you are now?
Number One is that I could never have gone to college when I was younger. I just wasn’t ready. I never judge students who obviously aren’t ready either. I also really understand the challenges of balancing school, kids, two to three jobs at a time and a household. I never could have done it without family support. I try to stress to students how much support is out there for them; they just have to know where to look and ask. 
 
Lynn Shaw, Math In The Electrical Technology Department, Long Beach City College
 
What did you do previously?
I have had many unusual jobs in my life: miner, steelworker, union electrician, longshore worker, but I also have had some traditional women’s jobs such as waitress.

Your motivation to change careers?
Nearly all of my career changes have been driven by disaster. For example, I was a steelworker, working as a hooker (not what you think), then a motor inspector, active in my union, very happy in a plant of 6,000, so plenty of opportunity for promotion, until it closed. Then it was time for a new plan.

Greatest challenge for you in changing careers?

Finding a way to take the skills and experience to the next job.

What’s the greatest reward?
Being able to turn disaster into a better job.
 
How did your previous experiences help you to become the instructor you are now?
I include career advice and activities as a part of every class. I try to help students make a plan, so they do not do the disaster method I did. 
CCA History Makers
It's Time to Register for CCA's Spring Conference

Mark your calendars for CCA’s Spring Conference and WHO Awards April 21-23 at the Marriott Hotel in Manhattan Beach. Online registration is now available. Conference highlights include the annual WHO Award Banquet as well as outstanding speakers, discussions and trainings that will help you become a better advocate for your members. Download the conference brochure to view and share with other members.

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