Reporter’s notebook

Cory Barrett joins a viewing party at Kalamazoo Valley Community College to celebrate his win on the Food Network’s “Spring Baking Championship.” (Photo: KVCC)

Baking his way to the top

Community colleges are on a (perfectly baked and decorated) roll.

Last week, Cory Barrett, a culinary instructor at Michigan’s Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC), won Food Network’s “Spring Baking Championship.” This comes just after North Shore Community College culinary arts instructor Douglas Phillips won the network’s “Holiday Baking Championship” in December.

Barrett has worked for KVCC since 2016 and had a hand in the development of the culinary program. He has more than 20 years of culinary experience and has even appeared on “Iron Chef” – also on the Food Network – where he worked with Chef Michael Symon.

Over the eight episodes of the spring baking competition, Barrett made an enchanted forest cake that looked like a fairy home, redesigned a hummingbird cake, and crafted a pink lemon tart with raspberry-rose ganache and a honey and walnut dessert. In the finale, Barrett won with a three-tiered salted caramel macchiato cake. Decorated with daisies, the cake was dedicated to his wife for Mother’s Day.

Filling in the gaps through apprenticeships

In Illinois, College of DuPage (COD) is partnering with the village of Addison to launch the pilot model of Project Hire-Ed, the college’s new apprenticeship program that aims to address what business leaders believe is absent in the skills set of some recent graduates and what is missing from the workforce.

“This unique program combines existing college coursework with work-based learning targeted specifically to the needs of our pilot business partners,” said COD Interim President Brian Caputo.

Students enrolled in Project Hire-Ed benefit from full-time employment while developing job skills through college courses and work-based learning. The program is open to all ages and backgrounds, including COD students, high school students, recent high school or GED graduates, career changers, veterans and others.

Classroom curriculum consists of four courses that focus on foundational skills: industrial safety, customer service, technical writing and Microsoft Office software and six technical skills classes, depending on the specific job track. These include manufacturing machining, welding, manufacturing CNC, industrial maintenance, facility maintenance, HVACR service and electro-mechanical/mechatronics.

Compton back on its own

After 13 years of dedicated teamwork, the partnership between California’s Compton College and El Camino College is coming to a close.

What began in 2006 as a collaborative effort to ensure continuous access to educational programs and services is now culminating in Compton College’s status as California’s 114th fully accredited community college, under the direction and authority of the Compton Community College District board of trustees.

In 2017, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges granted initial accreditation status to Compton College, which established the college as an accredited college within the El Camino Community College District.

Last summer, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley issued an executive order declaring that Compton will operate as an independent college effective June 7, 2019.

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