Curriculum was developed to serve the community in all 10 noncredit areas, with a focus on college and career preparation. Ms. Peterson worked with the community and the AB86 consortium to identify adult educational needs of the District, and worked with faculty to create curriculum to meet those needs. The community found the classes met their needs and the new noncredit adult education program had over 2,890 Students by the end of its second academic year.
Under Ms. Peterson, CR’s Adult Education program partnered with the Humboldt County Office of Education and Humboldt State University to provide ESL classes to the parents of local elementary schools’ English Language Learning students. The elementary school based students asked the program to expand and so it grew to include GED classes with support for Spanish speakers.
Another partnership included the development of a noncredit CalFire Wildland Fire Academy. In this rural part of northern California wildland fire suppression is a rapidly growing and much needed career option. The Wildland Fire Academy, developed and held in partnership with CalFire and the US Forest Service, graduated its first class of 27 new firefighters this spring, just in time for the graduates to apply for this year’s fire season positions. The community was so supportive of the new program that the graduation ceremony was attended by many firefighters from local fire districts. The local Cal Fire Unit Chief was among the dignitaries to address the graduates, and, of course, family and friends of the graduates joined everyone in celebration.
In October 2015, College of the Redwoods Adult Education program began the first face-to-face college classes in Pelican Bay State Prison, a level 4 supermax prison, with the introduction of noncredit Adult Education "College Bootcamp” classes to prepare inmates for college credit classes planned to follow. Since that start, the first credit class has started within Pelican Bay State Prison, and the College Bootcamp classes continue to prepare inmates for the rigor of credit classes.
Ms. Peterson identified a need with CR’s credit students when the Dean of Athletics mentioned that nearly 30% percent of his football team was disqualified in fall of 2013 due to academic ineligibility. Ms. Peterson worked with the Dean, the head Football Coach, and the Counselor for Athletics to develop a “Cap & Gown” program that added noncredit basic skills classes to the already full schedule of the football team. By fall 2014, the problem of losing football players to academic eligibility had been virtually eliminated and the Cap & Gown program was declared so successful at supporting student athletes that it was expanded to include all sports. In fall of 2015 CR’s Athletics department had an unprecedented 41% of its athletes with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Academic ineligibility has changed from being a formidable issue to a negligible factor, and CR’s student athletes are showing how successful they can be in the classroom as well as on the field.
College of the Redwoods noncredit program continues to expand and grow from the roots started by Julia Peterson. The isolated, rural district with a history of logging and fishing has a great need and appreciation for the new adult education programs being offered by their community college and we expect them to continue to support the program by attending classes throughout the district.