College of the Redwoods in partnership with the Yurok Tribe
is now offering courses in Klamath. The college seeks to add
more courses later this year if demand permits. Times-Standard
For the first time, College of the Redwoods is offering classes
in the Del Norte County town of Klamath after forming a partnership
with the Yurok Tribe over the last several months.
Yurok Tribe Education Department Director Jim McQuillen said
the college will now offer an early childhood education course as
well as courses on career and college foundations, Native American
studies, basic English and a GED course.
"They've been very good to reach out to us here at the Yurok
Tribe and trying to serve these very remote locations," McQuillen
said. "As the largest tribe in the state of California, we have
great educational needs for our members, so we appreciate it."
The idea for the new courses started nearly four months ago
when McQuillen received a phone call from College of the Redwoods
President Keith Snow-Flamer, who eventually met with the tribe in
Klamath to discuss their needs.
Snow-Flamer was unavailable for an interview Monday, but the
college's Executive Director of College Advancement Marty Coelho
said the college's mission has been to expand access to education
to all people. The new Klamath classes were an opportunity to fulfill
McQuillen said the weekly Infant Toddler Care and Education
course which began last week is especially important for the tribe's
three Head Start facilities in Eureka, Klamath and Weitchpec, which
work to prepare children for their public school education while
also incorporating tribal language and culture into their curriculum.
McQuillen said that federal law requires that employees of the Head
Start programs be trained and qualified in early education and infant
care, which he said the new course will help achieve.
College of the Redwoods Del Norte Center Director Rory Johnson
said that the new courses in Klamath will also address the transportation
issues many people in Klamath face.
"There is not a bus running between Klamath and Crescent City
every 30 minutes," Johnson said. "The road itself has got its fair
share of closures and bad weather can be pretty nasty. People coming
driving home late at night, it's hard for them to do. We can't always
be at all places at all times, but this was definitely an area where
we could do more to bring education to the people in that community."
Johnson said they are planning to expand the program to address
other specific focuses of the Klamath community, such as integrating
more fisheries courses in anticipation of four Klamath River dams
being removed in 2020.
The college is also looking to implement its "telepresence"
technology to Klamath, which will allow residents to watch a live
"It follows our instructors as well as our students, tracks
their interactions as well as displaying our whiteboards and what
is projected off of our instructors' computers," Coelho said. "This
provides a very immersive experience for our students. As far as
we know there is no other community college in California utilizing
such a robust system."
The GED course is also important as McQuillen said tribal members
have a higher than average high school drop out rate. McQuillen
said the Native American studies class will also be helpful in educating
nontribal members on the tribe's staff about tribal history, policy
and cultural sensitivity. The course will also act as an introductory
course for tribal members who have never taken a college course
before, McQuillen said.
Courses are either held weekly or four days at the tribe's main
office at 1190 Klamath Blvd. Instructors include College of the
Redwoods Del Norte Center staff as well as a Klamath-based instructor
who is teaching the GED course, according to McQuillen.
McQuillen said he encourages anyone who wants to weigh in on
the program and what classes they would like to take to contact
his office or College of the Redwoods.
"With the number of folks that have a called and talked about
it and asked about it, I'm very hopeful that it could take off,"
he said. "It can only go up from here."