Q&A with teachers at Sno-Isle Technical Skills Center

Jen and Wes

Core Plus Construction Spotlight 
Sno-Isle Technical Skills Center, Mukilteo School District

Meet Wes Allen, Director, and Jen Stutz, Construction Trades Instructor. 

Jen and Wes have been partners in the development and expansion of the program. We visited Jen’s classroom to talk shop and Core Plus Construction (CPC).

What is the difference between a high school and a skills center?
Wes: Sno-Isle is a regional secondary school that serves students from 44 high schools. We provide preparatory programs that are too specialized and expensive for school districts to operate individually. Students attend their home-based school and travel to our campus for their choice of career pathway courses.

How has CPC changed the construction trades program and your teaching?
Wes: All students must obtain certain core requirements in order to graduate from high school. Due to the credit equivalencies offered through CPC, students can now obtain credit for math, science and English language arts while staying in their construction class. We have seen an increase in enrollment because of these credit equivalencies. More students are now able to include construction courses as part of their high school schedule. CPC is a massive shift in the way we can deliver credits. We no longer have to justify that we are teaching core requirements, OSPI has approved the framework.

Jen: The framework is fantastic, especially for those students who have the chance to return for a second year. I also find myself teaching with a more deliberate approach. For example, I have always taught math skills, but I referred to it as sneaky math and hid it in the lessons. Now, I call out math using the framework and discuss the ways that the math is applicable in the industry.

Your program just received a CPC grant. How will you use the funds?
Jen: Yes! Thank you so much! We will use the $21,500 to purchase new equipment and fund student travel for field trips.

Wes, tell us about Jen?
Jen is passionate about teaching. She knows construction, how to navigate the academic system, and works hard to make her teaching applicable. Jen is an amazing role model for her students, especially female students to whom she can help build confidence that there is a place for them in the construction industry.

The program provides an Educator Externship and Professional Development. Why are these important to the success of your program?
Jen: Professional development allows me to connect with other construction trades teachers throughout the state. I don’t have construction colleagues on campus. Teachers now work together with a common platform, framework, standards, and industry-vetted student certification. The Educator Externship was so energizing. I was able to meet with industry leaders, see many job sites, and build industry connections that I can provide to my students. Most importantly, I can share my photos and experiences with my students. 

CPC is industry led. Does that add value?
Jen: It is critical and gives me confidence that is conveyed in my classroom. My students sit a little higher knowing that the industry is supporting their education. I teach them about the companies that I have met and the career opportunities available to them.

This article was featured in the AGC Education Foundation newsletter.