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Lassen PEAKS: A Common Vision for Local Business and Education

A SusanvilleStuff Feature
by Melissa Blosser

It isn’t typical for educators, businesses and key stake holders in our community to come together and agree on something.

But in Lassen County Lassen a group of individuals from the education system and business owners met and agreed to draft a program that would meet the needs of the community, increase economic development, and encourage our youth to seek higher education and career goals.

This program is called LASSEN PEAKS (Pathways in Education, Attaining Knowledge and Skills) and their membership is growing.

“This is an organization that brings all of the stakeholders together with a common vision,” said Rich DuVarney, Superintendent, Lassen County Office of Education.

“We have also been able to incorporate our “Chose Civility” campaign, an ongoing theme in teaching our youth about civility and we believe this can be applied to their career path as well,” he said.

Lassen PEAKS’ first began as Lassen Collaborative and the original intent was to host joint interest meetings with all the educational institutions in Lassen County, including Lassen College. Some initial goals were to build and host common events such as a Career Fair and a Countywide in-service. The group also focused on creating college and career pathways.

In May of 2011 Lassen PEAKS found its new name and more businesses started to express interest in becoming part of the program.  Chuck Downs, owner of Subway was a catalyst in recruiting businesses to the program.  As a youth employer, Downs felt it was “important” for businesses to participate.

“We are losing a lot of talent and we need to be able to be competitive by providing the tools to our kids so they can be a step ahead the kids in other communities,” Downs said.

LASSEN PEAKS now consists of several members from the community from the education and business sectors.

The list of local partners includes; Jeff Trump – Haws, Theobald, and Auman; Melissa Blosser – Susanville Stuff.com; Pat Williams – Herlong POD; Ed Swayze – Customer Talk; Todd Cutler - Superintendent Lassen High School; Adele Emershaw - Superintendent Westwood; Cindy Nellums - Superintendent Richmond; Rich DuVarney - Superintendent Lassen County Office of Education; Chuck Downs - Subway; Vicky Leitaker - Principal Meadow View; Patti Thurman - Assistant Superintendent Lassen County Office of Education; Maria Nye – Plumas Bank; Dr. Christopher O’Brien – Lassen National Forest; Terri Hiser-Haynes – Alliance for Workforce Development, Inc.; Jason Waddell - Superintendent Susanville Elementary; Cary Templeton – Lassen Community College; Terri Abel - Superintendent Shaffer; Kayleigh Carabajal - Lassen Community College.

The group meets monthly to focus on a mission, vision, values and goals for the program.  Many of the ideas have been adopted from a similar program in Tehama County called Expect More Tehama (http://expectmoretehama.com/) which has has proven to be successful with in the community.

The group recently made its first public appearance at the Children’s Fair where Patti Thurman, Assistant Superintendent, Lassen County Office of Education, handed out Frisbees’ donated and designed by Customer Talk.

The group will meet this summer to come up with an action plan to have businesses and the education system help the students in Lassen County be college and or career-ready after graduation from high school and encourage them to return to Lassen County for further career growth.

The next step for the group will be to go out into the community targeting parents, teachers, students, counselors.

“I think it has been great to hear all the different voices in the room coming together,” said Thurman.  “Lassen County has so much to offer and if we help these kids and get them to come back after college, it’s going to have a huge impact,” she said.

For more information on how you can get involved in Lassen Peaks, Please contact (530)257-2544.

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff.com Publisher/Editor
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