There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to education, and Kelsey Glass, Emily Griffith’s associate dean of trades, industry and professional studies, knows that through first hand experience.
When Kelsey was in high school, she had trouble getting engaged with her classes and didn’t feel comfortable in her large public school. By 16, she had dropped out of high school with a 1.8 GPA. “I really fell through the cracks,” says Kelsey.
Eventually she ended up at Eagle Rock School, a non-traditional boarding school in Estes Park, Colorado. Eagle Rock is a small school that focuses on interdisciplinary education and fostering each student’s unique potential. For example, in a rock climbing class, she learned about physics, math and environmental studies. “That’s when it started to click for me that education could be different,” says Kelsey. “That hands-on [experience]; that relevance. Having context and understanding those pieces was like, okay, this is good.”
After graduating from Eagle Rock at age 20, Kelsey went on to get a degree in recreation administration and began working with after school programs. Eventually she ended up back at Eagle Rock as a fellow.
For several years, Kelsey worked at Goodwill Industries teaching job readiness and career exploration, but she was a bit frustrated with the curriculum. So she helped revamp the curriculum and even created a role for herself as curriculum and staff management. She went back to school to get her master’s degree in education and focused on adult learning.
Four years ago, Kelsey came to Emily Griffith Technical College to be the associate dean of adult learning but after a couple of years, she moved to her current role as the associate dean for the College of Trades, Industry and Professional Studies. “It is super exciting to get to go into the CTE (career and technical education) side, and support instructors,” says Kelsey.
In Career and Technical Education, instructors come directly from the industries their training students for, many even still work full-time while teaching. “I’m not the subject matter expert on any of the trades, but I get to be the subject matter expert on curriculum and instruction.” It’s truly a partnership between her and the faculty. “They share things with me, I learn from them and then I get to do the same.”
One of the things she loves most about her current role is how much she is still involved with the classroom. “I still get to connect to people in the classroom and see people have the aha moment,” she says. “It’s so cool!”
Kelsey’s passion for hands-on education is palpable. She loves how much everything is changing all the time. “It’s not dull here!” she says.
Finding time to connect with the instructors can be a challenge though. Because faculty is in class or working most of the day, instructors don’t have a lot of time to meet and discuss professional development and curriculum building. So Kelsey has been trying to find innovative ways to carve out smaller chunks of time to meet with and support her faculty.
Her current goal is to build out more professional development for our faculty throughout the year. And, in particular, determine how to create and support engagement in our new hybrid model of online and virtual classrooms.
As for the future, Kelsey only sees career and technical education getting hotter. “Career and tech education will end up being a real competitor to our traditional higher education system,” says Kelsey. “It’s exciting to be a part of it!”