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Timberlake Job Corps going strong

Program bounces back after severing ties with school district


by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Timberlake Job Corps offers career training programs in the electrical field, carpentry, welding, automotive technician, culinary arts, facilities maintenance, forestry, office administration and painting. The Timberlake Job Corps appears to be thriving a month after Director Scott Olson sounded the alarm that the center was facing hard times.

The Estacada School Board decided in August to terminate its alternative high school program at Timberlake Job Corps, effective Sept. 30.

Previously, Job Corps students under the age of 21 who did not possess a high school diploma had counted as Estacada School District students under the umbrella of the alternative high school program.

“It’s definitely a struggle. We have appreciated the Estacada School District in the past,” said Deputy Director Sharon Hernandez.

She said the Job Corps staff realized the board made the decision to dissolve the Estacada Alternative High School because of a lack of funding.

Hernandez explained that the major change — a result of the school district’s departure — is that the Estacada School District and Timberlake Job Corps were forced to layoff employees.

“We’re still providing complete service for our students,” Hernandez said. “We just lost some good staff.”

The job corps still has a “complete GED program” and is continuing with high school diploma services.

by:  ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Timberlake Job Corps Community Liaison Warren Cunningham stands with a sculpture created by a former welding student.Rather than providing a diploma through the Estacada School District, Timberlake now uses the online Ashworth College program.

Hernandez added that Timberlake maintains “a good working relationship” with the Estacada School District.

Driving around the campus on a bright October morning, Community Liaison Warren Cunningham points out the many opportunities available to students at the job corps.

The center welcomes students ages 16 through 24 for technical and academic career training. Many of those students are looking to complete their high school diplomas or earn GEDs.

Students live at the center and are housed, educated, fed, provided with uniforms and equipment and given healthcare largely for free.

The center pays for the students to go home and return for summer and winter breaks.

Cunningham said most students get wind of the Timberlake Job Corps through word of mouth.

During the admissions process, the student is asked to indicate the three career training fields they are most interested in.

For the student’s first two months at the center, the student must try out all three fields. They are encouraged to try out all of the career training programs offered at the center before settling on one.

The center makes sure the students get a lot of hands-on experience.

For example, every meal is prepared by the culinary arts students.

Nearly every building on campus was built by a carpentry student.

Students in the electrical program do electrical maintenance on the center’s buildings.

The practical experience comes in handy.

As one student in the electrical program points out, whenever he goes home, family members ask him to rewire their houses.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - The Timberlake Job Corps campus is certainly not wanting in natural beauty.The students are given evaluations every two months and are updated on how close they are to completing the program.

Upon completion, most programs have a natural conduit into an advanced training program or apprenticeship.

As for recreation, there are sports fields, recreation rooms, a paintball course and a gymnasium.

The students frequently go on recreational field trips.

In Estacada, the students’ presence is felt through their extensive volunteer work.

“Pretty much anytime Estacada needs us... We’ll go set up whatever needs to be set up and usually stay and participate,” Cunningham said.

Students help with many town events and projects. Most recently, they helped with the Festival of the Fungus.

“There’s so many things we couldn’t do without Job Corps,” said Connie Redmond, Chamber of Commerce administrator. “Those kids are just wonderful.”

About 130 students are enrolled at Timberlake Job Corps, but the student body is growing.

“We bring in new students every other week,” Cunningham said.




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  • 23 Apr 2014

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