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A student talks about changing careers

The good people from Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ, just sent me this amazing digital story by Carlos Contreras -- one of their students who worked for decades as a concrete finisher and is now taking ABE classes so he can change careers.

This is a beautiful digital story that I highly recommend for the classroom:

It is more than just touching and humorous and feel-good (though it is all of that in spades), it also includes clear learning strategies (particularly around math) and touches on specific transferable skills. This WILL resonate in classrooms and will set you up for great discussions on so many subjects.

Carlos also contributed to the Career Pathways issue of The Change Agent ( which just came out a week ago. I wanted to attach a PDF of his article here, but I don't see a way to do that, so please write to me if you like, and I'll send it to you. If you already have access to The Change Agent, look for it on pp. 24-25. 

Cynthia Peters


Kathy_Tracey's picture

Those words were perhaps the most powerful words Carlos spoke. Thank you for sharing this story! The elements that hit me were how he applied real world strategies to his learning to create relevance. We know adults need to find a connection to their studies in order to stay engaged. He also voiced his challenges with transportation and even the lack of family support. These are such common issues for so many of our learners. He is certainly a role model for our students. 

Kathy Tracey

finnmiller's picture

What a wonderful video! Thank you for posting this, Cynthia. It's great to see how Carlos is now serving in leadership. Many programs in Arizona have fantastic student leadership councils, which many of us could benefit from learning more about.

Carlos' road mirrors that of so many of the people we serve. Though initially baffled by fractions in the classroom, Carlos discovered that he actually knew quite a bit about fractions when he made connections with his years of experience using tape measures in his work. This speaks to the importance of making our lessons as real-world as possible and determining what learners already know.

For those who are not familiar with The Change Agent, you should definitely check it out. This publication, which is chock full of student writing and standards-based teaching ideas, is invaluable.

(Cynthia and all, it's not possible to upload PDFs to LINCS, but we can always include web addresses to link people to useful resources.)

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP


Leecy's picture

Nothing like a good story to inspire. Thanks! Leecy