School News & Notes: Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee |

School News & Notes: Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee

Amy Edgett/Sierra SunCindly Flores and Marshall Lewis, Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee, show off the mechatronics booth during 'college night.' "Mechatronics prepares people for good jobs in technology," said Marshall Lewis, Mechatronics program coordinator. "There is a dirth of technicians, and it's only going to get worse as the baby boomers retire a 20 to 30 percent drop in trained technicians."

Tahoe Truckee Unified School Districts tree of learning recently grew a vital branch with the advent of the new Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee campus. According to Bev Ducey, TTUSD board member, the districts collaboration with the community college offers creative curriculum solutions for high school students. This collaboration means the district can provide additional options for high school students embarking on a variety of different academic paths, Ducey says.The college offers open enrollment for the districts full-time high school students. With Sierra College course work, students can not only earn high school credits, but also college credit. Importantly, these classes are free (with the exception of textbook costs) to district students. Additionally, each student is required to take a community college assessment test (math and English) upon enrollment. Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee Dean Kurt Heisinger says community college/high school collaborations, such as this one, represent a regional trend.It can be a real positive for high school students, Heisinger says. Students, who may have never been on a college campus, can get a feel for what the college atmosphere is like. It essentially expands the offerings available to these high school students.Jane Loomis, principal of Sierra High School and the Cold Stream Alternative High School, emphasized that the community college offerings dont necessarily displace traditional high school courses. Loomis explains that collaboration benefits go far beyond the actual credits earned.I think it has a great effect on these students and their peers, Loomis says. They see themselves accomplishing something and that helps them to feel a little more grown-up and self-confident.Sierra College classes can augment high school curriculum in numerous ways. Student athletes with tough competition and training schedules may find the night classes are a perfect way to get in important high school core requirements. Other students who may want to either graduate early or to make up credits they have fallen behind in, might also find academic solutions at the college. The college can also fill elective curriculum gaps. For instance, last year Truckee High Schools French teacher retired, leaving an academic enrichment void. According to Ducey, the school district and involved parents brainstormed about a solution and came up with the Sierra College option.We thought lets go to Sierra College and see if we can offer French classes that way, Ducey recalls. Now the class is offered on Tuesday and Thursdays; it represents another option for high school students.Additionally, the academic partnership also targets career, technology and educational programs. This is an area that addresses an important part of Tahoe Truckee Unified School Districts current academic mission. Last year the district secured a quarter-million dollar grant from the California Community College Chancellors Office that is devoted to this effort.Marshall Lewis heads up Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckees innovative new Mechantronics program, which is also offered to high school students. According to Lewis, Mechatronics classes prepare students for jobs that integrate electronics, mechanics, pneumatics, hydraulics and computer systems. This is hands-on project-based learning that prepares students for a variety of industries including the ski industry, golf courses, hospitality and public utilities, Lewis explains.For more information regarding high school Academic Enrichment coursework at Sierra College, contact Cindy Flores at 550-2225.

Mechatronics is a hands-on program that teaches the combined principles of mechanics, pneumatics, hydraulics, electronics and computer logic as it relates to the complex equipment that drives modern society.To find out more about this unique program, attend the Mechatronics Student Information Night on Monday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m. 8:30 p.m. at the new Sierra College, Tahoe-Truckee campus, Room 132.

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