Blog | December 19, 2017

Oregon Technical Center Provides Deeper Learning Opportunities

Career & Technical Education (CTE) imparts crucial skills that students need to succeed in the 21st-century workplace

“Every kid should have this kind of an opportunity.”

The response of ReadyNation member Curt Jantz to the Sabin-Schellenberg Professional Technical Center (SSC) is an understandable one.

SSC seeks to prepare students—all students—for the 21st-century workforce.

That’s no small task.

Now more than ever, employers need workers who have specific, practical skills as well as “executive-functioning” skills like problem-solving, effective communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. Honing their abilities in these concepts helps students achieve “deeper learning,” paving the way for success in college or the workplace.

The Sabin-Schellenberg Professional Technical Center in Milwaukie, Oregon helps impart those skills.

SSC offers 17 different career programs, including an opportunity to earn high-school and college credit simultaneously in many of the programs. The Sabin-Schellenberg curriculum focuses on Career and Technical Education (CTE), which emphasizes practical knowledge that directly connects the classroom to careers, particularly in-demand and high-wage occupations like those in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields.

I recently visited SSC with Mr. Jantz, a former VP at TV Guide, the owner of Studio JDM in Portland, and current board member of Portland Playhouse, a former board member for Equity Foundation, the Pearl District Business Association and Portland’5.

Principal Karen Phillips took us on a tour of the Center, where we got to get an up-close and personal look at the impact that Sabin-Schellenberg’s educational model is having on students.

Students in all programs practice and improve their career-related learning skills such as personal management, teamwork, problem solving, and communication.

Principal Karen Phillips, Sabin-Schellenberg Professional Technical Center

“The Sabin-Schellenberg model is based on the idea of ‘Excellence through Application,’” she explained. “Students learn industry-level skills and knowledge within their selected career area, then apply what they’ve learned using software, equipment, and activities that match the same skills they’ll use in the workplace.”

She also highlighted the “executive-functioning” portion of the model, saying that “Students in all programs practice and improve their career-related learning skills such as personal management, teamwork, problem solving, and communication.” She noted that students learn foundational career-building skills such as resume writing and interview techniques as well.

While showing us the impressive array of classrooms and labs in the Center, Principal Phillips also said that “Students have the opportunity to explore multiple career pathways, participating in a different program each semester or year. Or, they may choose to build their skills and knowledge by focusing on one area of interest and taking ever-increasing higher levels of courses within one of our 17 programs for two to four years.”

The substantial and diverse educational opportunities Principal Phillips showcased greatly impressed both of us. Upon seeing everything that the Center had to offer, Mr. Jantz remarked, “Every kid should have this kind of an opportunity. Sabin-Schellenberg has done it right.”

That speaks to one of the other aspects that makes SSC so special—and impactful. The Center is open to all North Clackamas high school students. Anyone in the school district can apply. The Sabin-Schellenberg model is spread across three high schools with a total enrollment of nearly 5,000. These students have the opportunity to access the vital pathway to the workforce that Sabin-Schellenberg provides through CTE instruction.

CTE and programs like those at SSC are made possible in part through Secondary Career Pathway funding in Oregon. This funding stream goes to support educational instruction that builds the direct conduit to the workforce that SSC does.

The idea behind Secondary Career Pathway funding is to make a first attempt at a sustained funding source for CTE. In particular, the funding is intended to incentivize intensive CTE programs of study that lead to high wage and high demand occupations—programs like SSC.

And, after visiting SSC, Mr. Jantz and I have little doubt that that’s exactly what’s happening.

At the conclusion of our tour, Mr. Jantz summed up his reaction to the wonderful opportunities at SSC with a succinct and powerful sentiment.

“I wish my kid could go here.”


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