Image of Kristina Guy, West-MEC Northwest Campus Counselor

West-MEC Counselor Kristina Guy named Counselor of the Year

Surprise, Ariz (Feb. 23, 2021) Kristina Guy, a counselor at the Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) Northwest Campus in Surprise, was named the 2021 Arizona School Counselor of the Year by the Arizona School Counselors Association (AZSCA).

The award, given to an outstanding counselor known to give tremendous time and effort to the kids at their school or district, was presented to Guy on Feb. 18 at the AZSCA annual awards ceremony.

The winner, according to the AZSCA, demonstrates leadership and collaboration in his or her work and promotes equity and access to opportunities and rigorous educational experiences for all students to maximize student achievement.

Guy said she was thrilled to be nominated and win the award.

“Receiving the award is a surreal feeling.  The things I do for my students are to bring them as many options and opportunities for success.  It is extremely fantastic to be recognized for all of that.  It is a good feeling that I am seen and am doing things to make a difference for my students.  Being eligible for the National School Counselor Award as well as a chance to put the great counselors of Arizona in the public eye.  Let the world see AZ is doing it right.  Selfishly, I am really excited to bring being a Career Technical Education District (CTED) counselor to the forefront.  I get to show that Career & Technical Education (CTE) is good for all kids, not just “those” kids.  I am humbled to have been nominated and still speechless that I was selected,” Guy said.

Guy started working in education in 2003, transitioning to a counselor role in 2012. Since then, she has accomplished many things at West-MEC Northwest Campus, such as the Jumpstart to College and Career Event. The event is for junior students, no matter their post-secondary pathway, to learn, plan, and prepare for what lies beyond graduation. 

She is the only counselor on a campus with 590 11th and 12th-grade students earning industry certifications in preparation for their post-secondary pathways.

Michelle Kurley, the mother of recent Northwest Campus Medical Assisting graduate Emily Kurley, said Guy was crucial in her daughter’s success.

“We were in a situation where we didn’t know what the next steps were for Emily, and Mrs. Guy encouraged us to just keep pursuing the applications, keep trying, and then apply for FAFSA. So we did, and that was a scary encounter but with her guidance, it was very easy, and she made it less stressful,” she said.

West-MEC Career Training program students taking pulse of patient.

West-MEC announces new Nursing Services Program

Surprise, Ariz. (Feb. 21, 2021) Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) – a public career technical education district – is excited to announce its new Nursing Services Program for the fall of the 2021-22 school year.

The Nursing Services one-year program prepares students with the necessary clinical and administrative knowledge to become entry-level nursing assistants. Students will receive hands-on training and learn how to properly administer basic nursing care, understand bodily systems and vital signs, practice client-centered care and critical thinking, work on patient advocacy, teamwork and professionalism, practice patient hygiene care, collect basic specimens and maintain patient records and proper ethics.

Students will be eligible for a much-needed career path, as well as the professional and personal skills necessary to traverse a career in healthcare at any level. Many program completers will have the chance to work while attending school or other training.

“The healthcare industry is rapidly evolving. After completing our rigorous and authentic program, graduates will have the knowledge and skills necessary for diverse healthcare pathways. Our program bolsters the career progression outlook for west valley learners, our future healthcare leaders,” said instructor and program coordinator Tamara Greaball.

Furthermore, Nursing Services is just one of many programs West-MEC is preparing local students for fulfilling careers, healthcare, and otherwise.

“We are so proud to offer yet another opportunity for our students to pursue a career they are passionate about. West-MEC is committed to offering a great education with our fine instructors and our partnerships with business and industry,” said Superintendent Greg Donovan.

West-MEC Career Training Programs IT Security student Robert LeDuc


Buckeye, Ariz. (Dec. 2020) It is with great honor we announce Robert LeDuc, a second-year student in the IT Security program at West-MEC’s Southwest Campus, has won an AFCEA Young AFCEAN Award for 2020/21.  Entrants must be 40 years or younger to be nominated for this award. Robert was selected by the Valley of the Sun Chapter on behalf of the Southern California Region.  

Robert was nominated by his instructor, Paul Getz. I.T. Security Program. Advisory Committee Chairman, John D. McMillin assisted in the process by writing up and submitting the nomination to AFCEA.  We thank Mr. McMillin for his work with AFCEA and West-MEC.  He has proven to be a valuable member of the I.T. Security program advisory council.  In addition to his service on the councils, McMillin has provided memberships to the AFCEA professional organization for all I.T. Security students enrolled in the West-MEC program.  

“Robert came into our program introverted like many others, but over time he has gained valuable professional skills and now leads by example.  He helps numerous students in and out of the classroom.  I am so proud of this young man!” boasts instructor, Paul Getz.

Robert has been a trendsetter in the I.T. Security program and in just over one year, has passed nine certification tests. He is currently working on his Palo Alto Networks Cybersecurity Certification(s).

Robert’s credentials include the following certifications:

– CompTIA A+
– CompTIA Network+
– CompTIA Security+
– CompTIA Linux+
– Cisco CCNA
– Red Hat Certified Systems Administrator
– TestOut Client Pro
– TestOut Security Pro
– TestOut Linux Pro

We wish Robert continued success and wish him well as he is scheduled to be honored at an awards ceremony early next year in San Diego, California.  


About AFCEA:
AFCEA provides a forum for military, government, and industry communities to collaborate so that technology and strategy align with the needs of those who serve. AFCEA is a member-based, non-profit international organization that has helped members advance information technology, communications, and electronics capabilities since 1946. The association has 30,746 individual members, 138 chapters, and 1,570 corporate members.
Click here to learn about the Young AFCEAN Award

West-MEC Strategic Plan invitation for community input


Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) – a public career technical education district – is seeking community input as part of its strategic plan for the future. Parents, students, business leaders, and others in the 3,685 square-mile boundary are invited to The West-MEC Strategic Plan Community Meeting via Zoom.

Every five years, West-MEC creates a strategic plan set to provide futuristic goals of what the district will represent and become down the road. The next five-year plan will be implemented in July, and those interested in giving input are encouraged to attend one of two virtual meetings on Nov. 18 or Dec. 8.

In each of the two 90-minute sessions, West-MEC staff will describe the district, explain the current strategic plan set to expire in June 2021, and ask for community input that officials present to the West-MEC Governing Board in future planning meetings. Meeting leaders will ask participants what they believe West-MEC can and should become in the future – specifically their vision for the year 2030 – as those familiar with the cities, demographics, and neighborhoods surrounding West-MEC provide a unique perspective.

“If we’re seen as a place to go and get an education, to learn, then they can tell us what we need to be mindful of as we think about preparing ourselves and our district for the future,” said Joel Wakefield, the Director of Professional Development and Strategic Planning at West-MEC.


Event Details:

West-MEC Strategic Plan Community Meeting via Zoom


Nov. 18, 2020 |  8:00-9:30 a.m.

Dec. 8,  2020 |  4:00-5:30 p.m.

Sign-up link: 

West-MEC Northwest Campus Medical Assisting Program student delivers care to injured community member


Surprise, Ariz (October 29, 2020) — Special shout out to our West-MEC Northwest Campus Medical Assisting student, Brooke-Lynn! After participating in Stop the Bleed Training, Brooke-Lynn was able to put her skills to good use. She stopped at a car accident and administered first aid.

We are proud of you, Brooke-Lynn!

West-MEC partnership with Millennium High School funds Culinary Principles kitchen and cafe


Goodyear, Ariz (October 28, 2020)Goodyear’s Millennium High School and Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) – a public career technical education district – celebrated the opening of the Tiger’s Cove Cafe in Goodyear for Millennium’s Culinary Principles Program on Oct. 21 with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Tiger’s Cove Cafe is a fully-stocked commercial kitchen with eight functioning workstations, several convection ovens, and other industry-standard cooking equipment for student use. The students will use the kitchen to practice food preparation and serving techniques as part of their overall education in the program provided through the West-MEC partnership.

“It takes a village to raise these students and our future generation. This kind of partnership over the years is what makes the difference and makes that possible,” Agua Fria Union High School District Superintendent, Dennis Runyan said.

Those who complete the Culinary Principles program will be trained and eligible to pursue a job or further education in the culinary arts, providing a chance for economic independence and a fruitful career in the future.

“To the extent that West-MEC is able to support that effort, we are happy and honored to do so,” said John Mulcahey, West-MEC Assistant Superintendent for Professional Development and Adult Education.

West-MEC Superintendent receives Regional Advancement Award from Westmarc


Avondale, Ariz (October 22, 2020) – The 28th Annual Best of the West Awards Dinner took place on Thursday, October 22, 2020, at Phoenix Raceway honoring the West-Valley’s best leaders, investments, and programs. WESTMARC recognized finalists in the categories of Economic Engine, Excellence in Innovation, Quality of Life Enhancement in the Community, and Quality of Life Enhancement in Education.

Additionally, the WESTMARC Board of Directors recognized individuals and projects that inspire leadership and advances the West Valley. West-MEC received the Regional Advancement Award.

“Even in a pandemic, we received many equally strong nominations this year. This is a definite indication that the West Valley’s economy is still growing and expanding with quality investments.” said Sintra Hoffman, WESTMARC President, and CEO. “WESTMARC is proud to honor these outstanding individuals and organizations making a great impact in the West Valley”.

This year was especially important as WESTMARC celebrated 30 years of servicing the region. “I’m thrilled that we were able to hold this unique event in person and virtually through partnerships with Phoenix Raceway for an outdoor event and with AMR for safety checks.” Said Jon Howard, WESTMARC Chairman of the Board. Safety is paramount, and we ensured a responsible and entertaining evening for all!”


WESTMARC – the Western Maricopa Coalition – is a public-private partnership of the 15 communities, the business community, and the educational sector in the West Valley. WESTMARC is committed to our members’ success and to our mission of enhancing economic development and promoting quality of life in the West Valley.

photo credit: Matt Young Photography, LLC

West-MEC Career Training ELECTRICAL Program Student


Glendale, Ariz. (Oct. 19, 2020) Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) – a public career technical education district – is the only school district in Arizona offering in-house Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training to its students in the form of a 10-hour certification course. 

The class is taught by West-MEC professional development staff, offering knowledge and insight into the rules and regulations for on-the-job safety. Students attend lectures, take quizzes, and a final test to obtain certification, learning terms and laws about safety in the workplace. Currently, these classes are taught virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each year, West-MEC certifies around 800-1,200 students.

OSHA enforces safety and health standards both at the state and federal level and develops reporting and record-keeping systems and training programs for employers and employees.

Many of the industries in which West-MEC students look to acquire jobs require OSHA certification or other safety training as part of the onboarding process, especially ones where heavy machinery or equipment use is commonplace. OSHA certification through West-MEC does not expire, making graduates of West-MEC programs stand out.

“They can go into their careers already certified, which gives them a leg up when they’re looking for jobs in the future,” said industry certification manager Frank Quinn.

“And more importantly, they will know what to look for in their workplaces to protect themselves.”

Image of West-MEC Southwest Campus in Buckeye Arizona


Buckeye, Ariz. (Oct. 14, 2020) – Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) began instruction in its newly-founded Environmental Sustainability Program in the 2020-21 school year.

The one-year program prepares students with laboratory and technical knowledge for entry-level water services positions. Students use the engineering process to understand and solve complex problems pertaining to the water cycle, water, and wastewater treatment. 

Besides classroom learning, West-MEC students have access to a variety of lab equipment including water microbiology cultures, solar panels, a machine that simulates the water cycle in a river with rain, and more.

Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to test for an Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Water Treatment Operator Level I certification, making them immediately eligible for employment upon graduation from high school should they choose that route.

“What we’re going to do is prepare them in the environmental field. That could be environmental engineering, environmental tech, and the water treatment industry, or anything else in that industry. We don’t know where these kids are going to go, but we want them prepared for success wherever they choose to make a career,” said instructor Rick Timmons.

Timmons said there is room for the program to grow, as the curriculum improves over time. What he knows, though, is there will be plenty of jobs and chances for further education come the time West-MEC’s students finish his program.

“Almost every large corporation has an environmental department, anything from one engineer to a whole team, but there are jobs all over that need people with this skill set. So, the outlook is good,” he said.

Aviation Maintenance Technology Training Program Student Image


Glendale, Ariz. (Sep. 30, 2020) Over the last three decades, girls’ academic and postsecondary outcomes have exceeded those of boys. Parents and educators are seeking solutions to foster students’ college attainment and career success. Committed to equity, the educational system must acknowledge that boys are falling behind and work to reverse this trend.

Educators and Virtual VISION presenters Speranta Klees and Aaron Parsons recommend a solution to help remedy the alarming decline in the academic performance of boys and propel them into successful postsecondary attainment: career and technical education (CTE). CTE provides all secondary students with a powerful set of advantages to ignite college success:

  • Relevance
  • Early college opportunities
  • Greater self-efficacy — a belief in one’s ability to solve problems

The staff at Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC), the largest CTE district in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area, examined scholarship from the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. And we found a common reason students drop out of high school and college:

“…too many can’t see the clear, transparent connection between their program of study and tangible opportunities in the labor market.”

West-MEC staff intentionally make those connections evident to students to ensure program completion and industry certification. With program completion and industry certification rates in the high 90% range, West-MEC’s next big step was to align its programs with postsecondary pathways.

Postsecondary alignment

West-MEC students can earn up to 52 college credits in aviation technology or 30 college credits in IT security, to highlight only two programs.

“Dual enrollment helps me with my college career by giving me a great direction for my future studies,” said Calista Orr, a student in automotive technology.

West-MEC data shows increased participation in early college programs by all students. We are also now seeing more senior boys completing high school, achieving in-demand industry certifications, and even earning associate degrees.

Garrett Williams, an aviation program completer, is proud of his effort: “West-MEC was a good experience to get me to the final outcome, which was to work at an airline. It was a lot of work, but the benefit to graduate with my diploma, an associate degree, and my airframe & powerplant certification was worth the effort!”

Self-efficacy leads to achievement.

Recent studies link grit, self-efficacy and student achievement, validating West-MEC’s core belief that success leads to success. As students, including boys, reach higher GPAs, grow a bank of college credits, and experience academic success and career pathway activities, their sense of efficacy increases. With increased self-efficacy, students become grittier and develop a renewed confidence in their ability to complete college. Our CTE pathways create option-rich links between high school, college, and career.

How does West-MEC help boys with specific strategies for success?

We know that reading and writing are strong predictors of success. We also know these are the areas in which boys fall the farthest behind girls. By eighth grade in the U.S., 41% of girls are, at minimum, proficient in these skills and only 20% of boys are. Behind in reading, many boys can’t work through word problems and long sentences to get to the math calculations they are typically able to solve. Thus, poor reading skills lower boys’ math assessment scores as well.

The technical reading material that is inherent to CTE (e.g., charts, diagrams or how-to manuals) may effectively challenge male students to increase their comprehension and vocabulary skills. At West-MEC, we use technical manuals to extend skills further through the application of speaking, writing, reading, and listening (SWRL) strategies. With technical reading as the foundation, we see boys and girls achieve parity in reading assessments; moreover, we also see gains in the math assessments of both sexes.

The typical classroom norm — sitting, talking, and listening — is hard for many boys. Movement is the preferred learning style for boys, and its use decreases progressively as boys matriculate through high school. When CTE classes integrate movement, learners are better able to understand the material. They become more motivated to achieve higher and succeed. At West-MEC, we determined our coding program did not offer enough movement, so we added five minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Due to the COVID pandemic, this intervention is, of course, on hold.

Actionable Strategies

Take notice: Boys are largely absent from scholarships, awards, or college admissions.

All students, especially boys, are much more likely to complete a rigorous postsecondary pathway if it clearly links current with future learning and aligns career goals.

West-MEC maintains that success leads to success. All students can succeed. With the adoption of deliberate alignment and guidance toward dual and concurrent enrollment, and a hands-on, movement-oriented environment, boys develop an increased sense of efficacy toward postsecondary pathways. All students deserve postsecondary attainment within their grasp.

Tune in to ACTE’s CareerTech Virtual VISION, Nov. 30–Dec. 4, for more from Speranta Klees and Aaron Parsons. Don’t miss their session — Left Behind: Boys Need CTE.

Speranta Klees is the postsecondary partnerships manager for West-MEC.

Aaron Parsons, Ed.D., is an assistant campus administrator at West-MEC.

West-MEC Career Training Program Student


Glendale, Ariz. (Oct. 7, 2020) — Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC), a public school district dedicated to career and technical education programs, is partnering with Arizona State University for a new program to help fast-track students on their way to a bachelor’s degree.

Working in close collaboration with the Maricopa County Community College District, the partnership will help high school students at West-MEC work toward a Bachelor of Applied Science degree. West-MEC’s career and technical education (CTE) students learn industry-standard skills in programs such as veterinary science, automotive technology, fire science, and welding. The students have the opportunity to earn dual-enrollment high school and college credit from the Maricopa Community Colleges in tandem with earning their industry certifications at West-MEC.

Upon completion of an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree from a Maricopa Community College, the new partnership will allow students to transfer and apply 60-75 credits toward their 120-credit Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree at ASU.

“Until now, the students who completed our CTE program did not have a clear path to transfer seamlessly to ASU. Now they do, and this is a game-changer,” said Speranta Klees, post-secondary partnerships manager at West-MEC. “Through this program, our students who complete the CTE program will know they are valued, welcomed, and wanted by ASU.”

Along the way, students will continue to build skills as they progress toward each credential, making them increasingly qualified for jobs in their chosen fields. Industry partners, meanwhile, are championing these stackable credentials. As the West Valley economy grows, the need for skilled workers is high and partnerships like this provide an important local talent pipeline into high-paying employment.

Cheryl Hyman, Vice Provost of Academic Alliances at ASU says, “ASU is committed to the success of our students. We understand transfer students all have unique learning journeys and through our transfer tools and partnerships we enable all transfer students to have a connected pathway experience that will enable academic preparedness, college completion, and career readiness.”

About MCCCD:

The Maricopa County Community College District includes 10 regionally-accredited colleges – Chandler-Gilbert, Estrella Mountain, GateWay, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Rio Salado, Scottsdale, and South Mountain – and the Maricopa Corporate College, serving more than 200,000 students with two-year degrees, certificates, and university transfer programs.

About ASU:

ASU’s nationally ranked programs inspire the top-qualified graduates and have positioned the university as a “top-tier” recruiting and hiring institution by more than 50 of the country’s top corporations, according to professional recruiters and rankings services around the world.

Dr. John Upton performs a biomimetic dental procedure on West-MEC Dental Assisting Instructor


Glendale, Ariz. (Sep. 29, 2020)  Julie Ehrman, a dental assisting program instructor at West-MEC took her job an extra step forward on Sept. 8 when she received a biomimetic dental procedure, courtesy of Dr. John Upton at Arrowhead Dentistry in Glendale.

Ms. Ehrman, always looking for ways to improve her curriculum for students, took part in the unique procedure – Mr. Upton called it “minimally invasive dentistry,” according to a news release – that will hopefully last longer and be more effective than past methods of fixing cracks and breaks in a tooth.

Ms. Ehrman took pictures the entire time, speaking with Mr. Upton about what exactly was happening so that she could teach a lesson on the subject to her class down the road.

She said the best dental assistant students, ones that get lucrative jobs and climb the corporate ladder quickly, are eager to learn more about dentistry and be of service to the doctor or dental hygienist.

“We have to educate ourselves,” she stated. “The students should be interested in keeping their minds open to the newest techniques and information, whether they go into the science of dentistry, engineering, or other lab work. That way you can open a lot of doors in an industry that is stable.”

Mr. Upton, in the process of creating a mold of Ms. Ehrman’s tooth to later be used in further steps of the procedure, said the skills Ms. Ehrman hopes to teach in lessons like the biomimetic dentistry unit show motivation that can be used to impress dentists like him looking to hire new assistants after graduation.

“If you want to do this kind of dentistry, you have to have a step above the others: lifelong learning skills, dedication, and an interest in growth in your career,” he said.

Visit or schedule a visit with a recruiter.

image of Red Wing Shoes Storefront- partner boot program with West-MEC


Glendale, Ariz. (Sep. 22, 2020) Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC)–a public career technical education district-is proud to announce it’s newest partnership with Red Wing Shoes. 

Wearing appropriate safety shoes is imperative for a safe work environment. We are excited to announce a student discount program with Red Wing Shoes.

Students will receive a 12% discount on any safety shoe at Red Wing Shoe Stores. There are four locations in the valley – students may receive their discount at any of these locations, they just need to show their West-MEC student ID. This is not available for online purchases at this time.

Fit specialists will assist students in selecting the best footwear for their program. Please visit for a complete store listing in your area.
Image of West-MEC testing center for industry certifications


Glendale, Ariz. (Sep. 14, 2020) Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC)–a public career technical education district-reopens its Testing Center to the public. 

West-MEC has partnerships with Certiport and PearsonVUE to provide a convenient and secure testing site for certification and licensure exams. Conveniently located just off the 101 freeway at 5405 N. 99th Avenue in Glendale, there are over 200 certification options available to community members. 

Popular certification options include: 

  • American Medical Technologists Registered Medical Assistant 
  • ACSM Certified Professional Trainer
  • CIW JavaScript Specialist
  • Pharmacy Technician Certification Board 
  • QuickBooks Certified User
  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
  • Adobe Certified Associate (ACA)

Community members should schedule their appointment directly through the Testing Agencies:



West-MEC’s testing site is following all recommended CDC guidelines to ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image of tools donated to West-MEC students from Starrett


Glendale, AZ (Sept. 15, 2020) – Starrett donated several thousand dollars worth of precision tools to West-MEC – a public career technical education district – for use in its many industry training programs.

Starrett, which has manufactured precision tools since 1880, is one of the country’s top producers. The tools will be used in West-MEC’s classrooms and training labs to enhance students’ experience and learning. The donation was made possible by West-MEC’s partnership with Snap-on Industrial Certification, which in turn partners with Starrett.

With tools such as digital depth micrometers to measure the depth of a mechanical part to .00001 of an inch, bore gages to measure inside hole diameters with high accuracy, and more, the donation will undoubtedly make for higher-quality instruction and demonstrations in West-MEC labs throughout its campuses.

“We try to keep everything at the industry’s level, and this type of tooling is what the students would be using there. So any time we can give the students real-world experiences it is a benefit to their education,” said West-MEC industry certification manager Frank Quinn.

“This will give our students the ability to use top-end professional tooling in the industry. That makes a difference.”

And, as many construction, tooling, and technology companies have been deemed essential businesses during the time of the coronavirus, Starrett has stayed strong in its production and distribution of tools, to the benefit of West-MEC students and staff.

“The company has remained globally operational, with a few exceptions, during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Starrett President and CEO Doug Starrett in a press release.” “Our supply chain has not been disrupted to any material extent and we remain well-positioned to respond to your needs.”

Image-West-MEC Career Training Auto Technology program students wearing masks demonstrating safety on campus


Glendale, AZ (Sept. 10, 2020) – Following weeks of online learning, students at Western Maricopa Education Center’s four campuses returned to class for in-person instruction on Sept. 9. West-MEC welcomed around 3,000 students to finally experience campus and meet the other students in their individual career technical training programs.

Although donning masks and staying socially distant as much as possible, Wednesday felt like a true first day, back-to-school experience for students and staff alike.

“The students just breathe new life into the campus. That’s why we’re here, the energy they’ve brought in a short time, you can feel it,” said David Svorinik, Assistant Northeast Campus Administrator.

“They’re actively engaged, taking care of business and showing how motivated they are for the rest of the school year, and that’s promising to see.”

Caleb Rushing, a senior in West-MEC’s automotive technology program, even enjoyed getting to do mundane tasks like mopping the floor of the school’s car shop, knowing it was a step toward getting to actually work on cars again.

He said that he immediately felt “a different vibe” compared to the important-but-limited online learning environment.

“It’s just a whole other learning experience rather than watching YouTube videos on cars and online lessons.

You get to actually be there to walk through every single step of learning about the cars,” he said.

His instructor, automotive technician teacher Nick Shumaker, agreed.

“From digital and online to in-person learning, the connection with the students and seeing them actually here is

great. When they’re able to touch the tools and make that connection is when they’re really starting to learn,” Shumaker said.

For others like Alexia Schuyleman, a senior in the veterinary sciences program at West-MEC, the return to in-person learning is important, too.

For her, being in the classroom and labs is the reason she wanted to enroll at West-MEC in the first place.

“It’s amazing being back. We get that person-to-person connection with our teachers and classmates,” she

said. “And in this program it means hopefully we’ll be able to actually work the animals soon, too.”

West-MEC Career Training Powersports Program Lab Image


Surprise, AZ (Sep. 9, 2020) Twenty-one new students at West-MEC are set to begin in-person instruction as part of a newly-announced Powersports Technician certification program.

The two-year program at the approximately 8,000-square-foot facility in West-MEC’s Northwest campus in Surprise will provide students with the skills necessary to diagnose, fix, support, and maintain a variety of powersport vehicles.

Knowledge taken from lab work and classes with West-MEC powersports instructor Matt Still will range from the theory of combustion engines, fundamentals of electricity, brakes, and many other aspects that will help develop quality technicians able to excel in the industry, providing a pathway for alumni toward West-MEC’s goal of economic independence.

“This program has viability and this program has strength because companies have a need for skilled workers who can come out of their training ready to go. Our industry partners are everywhere, they’re all over the place, and I believe a lot of them are looking for workers,” Mr. Still said.

Before any first-year student even touched a tool in the lab, West-MEC staff had already brought in several vehicles, ranging from a BMW motorcycle, a jet ski, several golf carts, and more to allow program students a wide range of experience of engines and systems and knowledge about each.

And, Still says there is even more room for growth as the program expands and students and instructors are able to offer feedback.

“This inaugural class is going to be integral in helping me develop the program further along. We’re going to see the parts and look at what specialty tools and equipment we’re going to need to purchase down the line. And they’ll be doing it keeping a customer and employee mindset thinking about what they’ll need to do to be the best technicians possible when they’re done here,” Mr. Still said.

If the first-year program is as successful as he believes it will be, there could be a bright future ahead for powersports technicians at West-MEC.

“There was enough engagement and interest, even with COVID concerns, that we had 21 students of a max 25 that found out about it and wanted to know more and get learning in this lab space,” Still said. “So we figure with more exposure and another year, that next year there’s going to definitely be more demand for it.”

Save the Date Graphic: West-MEC Free Community Event - Experience Orange Sept. 18


Surprise, AZ (August 13, 2020) Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC)–a public career technical education district–will host a free virtual event for residents to learn how the district supports its communities at the Northwest Campus in Surprise. 

“Working here at West-MEC, I feel as though I am making a difference in the lives of future generations as they get to discover their passion and pursue careers that will help them live the American Dream” states Northwest Campus Administrator, Holly Medina.

Hear success stories from a West-MEC parent and alumnus, along with an informative session led by West-MEC staff. The virtual event culminates in a live Q&A session and optional tour of the newly completed Northwest Campus. 

WHAT: Experience Orange Virtual Event

WHEN:  September 18, 2020 from 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Registration Link:  

COST: Free

West-MEC Career Training Program Fire Science students


Glendale, AZ (August 19, 2020) Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC)–a public career technical education district–begins its first Achieving a College Education (ACE) Program cohort. 

Beginning with a small but mighty cohort of six Fire Science students, West-MEC has established its first ACE Program in partnership with Glendale Community College (GCC). Students accepted into the program have the opportunity to earn up to 24 free college credits within two years during their high school career which can be applied towards an AAS Fire Service Professional degree and a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Emergency Management at Northern Arizona University (NAU).

“I am VERY PROUD of our first ACE Program cohort, as they made their way through their summer class, under very difficult circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic. They had to work strictly online, completing their very first college class, CPD 150 Strategies for College Success, 3 college credits, without the in-person peer and adult mentoring & support that is typically a part of the ACE program.” – Speranta Klees, West-MEC Post-Secondary Partnerships Manager.

The ACE Program is intended to serve students that have certain risk factors for not enrolling or completing college. Students must be nominated for the program by a staff member and there are essay and testing requirements to fulfill prior to acceptance. Once accepted, participants are able to streamline their education in tandem with their training courses to best prepare themselves for a career in their field of choice. 

“Glendale Community College is excited to bring our ACE program to West-MEC.  We value this partnership but just as important is the opportunity to give students a head-start on their college education.”   Dr. Teresa Leyba Ruiz, President of Glendale Community College. 

This fall, West-MEC’s ACE Program students will start High School, the West-MEC Fire Science program at GCC, along with their ENG 101 course. A team of professionals from West-MEC, Glendale Community College, and Northern Arizona University provides guidance and support, ensuring student success in the program. 

West-MEC continues to pursue meaningful partnerships with post-secondary, businesses, and industry partners. 

About Glendale Community College:

Glendale Community College provides 41 Associates degrees, 61 certificate programs, and a range of non-degree offerings, all available to students in traditional, online, and hybrid formats.  Founded in 1965 to serve the northwestern part of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, the college is part of the Maricopa County Community Colleges District, has two campuses, and enrolls approximately 26,000 students annually who are taught by world-class faculty.  For more information please visit

image of staff winner photos


Glendale, Ariz. (July 24, 2020) Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC)–a public career technical education district–celebrates staff members who were recognized for their contributions to Career Technical Education (CTE) by the Association for Career Technical Education of Arizona (ACTEAZ).

West-MEC is pleased to announce the achievements of the following esteemed staff members.

ACTEAZ Lifetime Achievement Award – John Mulcahy, West-MEC Assistant Superintendent for Professional Development and Adult Education 

ACTEAZ Administrator of the Year – Marilynn Babyar, West-MEC Director of Student Services

ACTEAZ Distinguished Service Award – Shelly Thome, West-MEC Exceptional Student Services Manager

The winners were personally notified of their award in addition to being posted on the ACTEAZ website

West-MEC supports its staff members in taking an active role in State organizations that support public education and career technical education. In addition to the recognition of the award recipients, West-MEC is proud to announce the following staff members for their service on the ACTEAZ Executive Board. 

ACTEAZ President-Elect – Rahsaan Bartet, West-MEC Elementary and Community Liaison

ACTEAZ Vice President – Stephen Weltsch, West-MEC Assistant Superintendent for Teaching, Learning and Campus Operations

ACTEAZ Member at Large – Brady Mitchell, West-MEC Curriculum & Instruction Specialist

ACTEAZ is a nationally recognized leader working with the ACTE national organization to become a stronger voice in legislation and policymaking in support of Career Technical Education. For more information, visit

Photo: West-MEC Career Training program graduate waving from vehicle

West-MEC Hosts Unique Recognition Ceremonies During COVID-19 Pandemic

On May 28th and 29th, West-MEC celebrated it’s program completers for the 2019-20 school year. COVID-19 precautions changed our plans for hosting a traditional ceremony. Instead, our campus teams came together to celebrate our hard-working students with a special “Drive-Thru Ceremony”.

Our West-MEC program completers stand apart from the typical high school graduate. Our students are ahead of the curve and better prepared to go into the workforce or higher education.

To our dear graduates, none of this could have been accomplished without the support of others that believed in you to succeed. When you look around, you will find support everywhere. From the West-MEC Governing Board, our administration, to your fabulous instructors and finally your family. These people all put in the time, effort, and love into your success, especially during these unprecedented times.

We know this year has gone differently than any of us could’ve ever imagined. Yet, despite the challenges, we are proud of the resiliency of our West-MEC students to adapt to a new learning style and complete your programs.

As you go off to college, the military, and enter the workforce to build lives of your own, we challenge you and your family to share the story of what Career & Technical Education has done for you with all those you meet. We ask that you keep in touch with West-MEC. We want to continue to help you along your path. We need your stories of success. Your stories can help others learn of the opportunities that await them.

On behalf of the Governing Board and all of West-MEC, thank you for your hard work. We look forward to your bright future.

Congratulations class of 2020!