Inside Education: Community participation program kicks off its first-in-a-series seminar

ROP Instructor Tim Hurd informs Inside Education participants as ROP Construction Technology student at Watsonville High School learns his craft.

County Superintendent of Schools Michael Watkins, supported by district superintendents and administrators and COE staff, has initiated a new program called Inside Education. The mission of the program is to build public awareness and support for public education by providing hands-on experience in educational settings. A series of intensive half-day seminars will educate participants on issues and opportunities, successful programs offered, challenges, and the business of educating and preparing students for the 21st century.

One day each month, this group of community leaders (listed below) will travel throughout the county for an inside look at public education. Superintendent Watkins kicked off the nine-month series on October 23, in a welcome and introduction to the first day of activity titled, It’s No Longer Vocational Ed – It’s Career Tech.

The day began with staff presentations from Bryan Wall, Director of the County Office of Education’s Regional Occupational Program (ROP), Karen Lemon, Program Coordinator of the Middle School Outreach Program and Digital Media Program, and Technology teacher, Fidel Mejia who summarized the educational offerings that were to be visited during the day.

ROP Construction Technology students at Watsonville High practice their craft.

The group traveled to Aptos High School where they were greeted by Aptos High School Principal Casey O’Brien and Vice Principal, Barbara Lawrence-Emannuel. The participants observed the ROP Health Careers class and heard a presentation on the class’ mission by ROP Instructor Deb Tracy. Juniors and seniors apply for this one-year class as an introduction to the varied career possibilities in the medical field. Students participate in a combination of interactive classroom instruction, career panels, site visits and Medical Terminology. Students follow a curriculum with a global view of today’s healthcare environment and are exposed to potential career paths and future options for career advancement and higher education.

Watsonville High School Principal Murry Schekman greeted the members with an enthusiastic overview of ROP classes on the WHS campus. The group then spent observation time in the following classes:

  • Engine Repair – a one-year class that offers automotive technology curriculum with an emphasis on general engine diagnosis, engine removal and reinstallation, cylinder head and valve train diagnosis and repair, engine block diagnosis and repair, lubrication and cooling system diagnosis and repair.
  • Fabrication/Metals – a one-year class, designed to provide students with entry level skills required in the various metal working occupations. Areas covered are oxygen-acetylene gas welding, tungsten inert gas, metallic inert gas stick electrode arc welding processes, spot welding, drafting and blueprint reading, sheet metal forming processes, metal working power tools and hot and cold metal fabrication.
  • Construction Technology – a program offered for two semesters involving classroom and work-site competencies in the following areas: basic construction math, project organization, foundations and support structure, practices and procedures for standard framing, exterior wall and roof coverings, repairing and /or altering old and new structures, all with an emphasis on “green” technologies.
Watsonville High student expertly defines the ROP Engine Repair model to Inside Education participants

Following the full morning of classroom experience, Inside Education participants attended the 8th Annual Business/Education Luncheon sponsored by Your Future Is Our Business at the Seascape Golf Club. The luncheon celebrated student success and recognized exemplary career education mentors and programs.

All Inside Education participants gave the first seminar a superior rating. Member comments for the day included the following:

  • I learned how far-reaching the ROP program is and how it gives students so many options
  • I saw how ROP is preparing the students for the future and the importance of work ethics
  • I was surprised at the variety of programs offered
  • A definite take-away for me is the opportunity to strengthen and grow the relationships with ROP and Dominican Hospital
  • The level of passion of the ROP instructors. They really believe in what they do
  • I was surprised that students are working with Cabrillo College
  • How can I advocate for ROP?
  • Thanks for offering this (Inside Education) program – I am learning so much
Instructor Robert Atwood, ROP Metals Fabrication Instructor at Watsonville High, and Inside Education participants, Judy Johnson, Cecilia Espinola, Dave Cavanagh, and Antonio Rivas

Thank you to administrators and staff at the County Office of Education, Regional Occupational Program, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, Watsonville High School, Aptos High School, Your Future is Our Business, and especially to the participants of the Inside Education Series for their interest and involvement in public education and the success of students in schools throughout Santa Cruz County.


Jess Brown, Executive Director, Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau
Judith Camacho, Director, Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
Dave Cavanaugh, Board Director, Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau, and business owner
Nancy Cavanaugh, business owner
Joanne DeLott, Santa Cruz Seaside Company
Carol Siegel, Santa Cruz Seaside Company
Tish Denevan, Santa Cruz Seaside Company
Liliana Diaz, Attorney, Grunsky Law Firm
Cecilia Espinola, Director, County of Santa Cruz, Human Services Department

Judy Johnson, Erik’s Deli; Martina O’Sullivan, Dominican Hospital; Carole Mulford, COE; and Cecelia Espinola, County Human Services Department, learn about the career opportunities provided by enrollment in the ROP Medical Occupations class at Aptos High School.

Gail Jack, Board Member, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Cruz County (CASA)
Erik Johnson, Founder, Erik’s Deli
Judy Johnson, Owner, Erik’s Deli
Becca King Reed, Executive Director, KTEH Public Media
Martina O’Sullivan, Director of Community Engagement, Dominican Hospital
George Ow, Jr., Ow Real Estate
Antonio Rivas, Council Member, City of Watsonville
Elena Sexton, Director of Corporate Communications, Seagate
Mark Stone, 5th District Supervisor, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors

For more information

For more information regarding Inside Education, contact Cheryl Morris at (831) 722-5211.