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Director: Dr. Mary Soltis
Phone: 831.479.6114
Location: Room 1504B
(1st Floor of Building 1500)
Email: Send a message
Address: 6500 Soquel Dr
Aptos, CA 95003
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Success Stories

gwen barry

Gwen Barry

4.0 student Gwen Barry didn’t start her studies thinking she’d become a teacher. Originally she planned on pursuing a career as a scientific researcher. However, after a job teaching after school science and engineering programs, she suddenly couldn't picture being anything other than a science teacher.

“I started to realize how much I enjoyed teaching and sharing my passion for science with others. I hope that through my teaching science that students will gain an appreciation of the natural world and the desire to be inquisitive. “

Gwen’s experience with ED80/ED80L gave her better understanding of the steps and commitment needed to become a teacher. She also gained hands-on experience working with the age group that she wants to teach.

“I was able to observe and work with students in a 9th grade biology class at Aptos High School. This was an amazing experience because it allowed me to envision what my life could be like as a future teacher in my field. I was able to receive feedback and support from the experienced teacher I worked with and make valuable connections with students.”

As a first generation college student, Gwen felt very lost and unsure of her capabilities as a community college student. But she was able to ask the necessary questions.

“Ed. 80/80L gave me a safe place to ask questions. Dr. Mary recognized my capabilities before I did, and she helped me take the steps toward the future that I wanted for myself, but didn't know I could achieve. I am confident in the path I have chosen because of the support and guidance I received.”


tom johnson

Tom Johnson

As someone moving into a second career and with family obligations, Tom Johnson is very directed, knows what he wants to do, and doesn’t want to waste time. Being part of ED80 and the lab “gave him a good foundation and serious preparation” toward his goal of being a high school art teacher.

When Tom graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in filmmaking, he found that there weren’t a lot of job opportunities in that field. He was raising a family, so he needed a good, regular job. So learned to “turn a wrench” and worked in an auto body shop for 30 years.

While working at the shop, he’d daydream about being a teacher. He has been surrounded by teachers – his mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, and wife have all taught. Tom began to think “I could teach.”

When the shop closed, Tom had the chance to go through re-training, and he saw that as an opportunity to work toward teaching. But the state re-training program didn’t have a path for that. Tom began observing an art teacher, who told him about ED 80L. Tom signed up and continued observing the art teacher under 80L.

“Doing an observation is invaluable,” says Tom. “You spend a lot of time in a classroom, which helps you figure out if the job is for you. If you work with a good teacher, you learn how to teach well.”

Tom is now on two paths toward his goal of becoming a high school art teacher. He’s working toward an AA in digital art and taking classes at San Jose State University to get his teaching credential.

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