Sherrean Carr, Career Education Dean, retires from Gavilan Collegeby Jan Janes on Jul 13, 2020
After a three-decade career as an instructor, dean of DSPS, then dean of Career Education (CE), Sherrean Carr is retiring from Gavilan College.
Sherrean Carr, retiring Career Education Dean,
brought vision and focus to launch new programs
and innovate existing disciplines.
“It is a very challenging process to retire away from Gavilan,” said Carr. “And I don’t know that I fully will, ever. Gavilan has been a second family to me.”
Career education trains students for in-demand career paths
Career education identifies and develops programs that build middle skill careers. “These jobs are critically important to the California economy,” she said. “Gavilan has been a leader in establishing new programs that meet labor market demands in our community and in our region.”
Carr was instrumental in restructuring the program development flow identifying how new programs launched. The college collaborated with regional industry leaders to assess potential programs. Many launched, were refined and gained traction in Community Education. As classes filled, funding was identified, and certificate and degree programs were created.
“We zeroed in on meeting community need,” she said. “If the labor market demonstrates need, we pivot and meet it.”
In two decades, Carr improved existing programs and launched new ones.
“It speaks to how we evolve and change,” she said. “We don’t go back 20 years, we are ever changing to meet the needs of the community.”
Major programs have been revitalized or launched during her tenure
Water Resource Management
“Water is a career,” said Leslie Jordan, industry professional and lead instructor for the program since 2014.
A program incubated in community education ten years ago now has multiple certificates and degrees offered by Gavilan College. Programs are available in all aspects of water management, from wastewater technology and water treatment to pumping, pollution prevention and laboratory analysis. Under Carr’s leadership, the program arranged paid internship positions with major water districts. To date all of the interning students later landed full time positions.
According to Jordan, “The program has students from age 20 to 70. People just starting out or starting a second career. Before you step through an employer’s door, you are already certified.”
HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning)
HVAC was a vision three years in the making. This most recent program launched in August 2019. Carr researched other area community colleges with successful programs, identified labor market trends and located the funding. Students trained in maintaining and repairing equipment in residential, commercial and industrial buildings earn solid wages within a sector expecting 15% annual growth in jobs through 2026.
“Area businesses and industry partners are contacting us for employees,” said Carr. “They are hiring our students as they complete the classes.”
Wrapping six years of multi-jurisdictional negotiations in December 2015, the college finalized a 30-year lease and built a hangar and classrooms at San Martin Airport. The FAA-certified Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program moved into the new facilities to start classes in September 2016.
“Sherrean was always a champion of the aviation program,” said Herb Spenner, lead faculty for AMT. “She saw the program and industry would be strong in the future.” Many area aviation schools closed when the industry slowed. “Now, aviation is one of the strongest employment markets,” he said. “Gavilan has the strongest training program in the area, thanks to Sherrean.”
According to Carr, cosmetology has been a mainstay program, at capacity, since she walked into the dean’s position. “That speaks to the quality of instruction, plus the demand in our community,” she said.
Gilbert Ramirez, Cosmetology department lead, has worked in the program and with Carr for more than 20 years. “Sherrean always helped our program, finding funds for us when we needed new supplies or equipment,” he said. “She has been such a strong supporter of all the CE programs. She would come to us and ask, ‘How can I help you? What do you need?’”
“She also supported our regular events – hair shows and fashion shows – and was excited to be a part, often pulled into judging duties,” he said. “Our students thought it was great having Sherrean, our dean, come in and have services done by us.”
“When I was hired full time, she was my mentor and strongest supporter,” said Ramirez. “Her guidance helped me to make sure our department was always on task.”
A tireless advocate, mentor and role model
“Sherrean has always been a strong advocate for Career Education,” said Ellen Venable, computer science instructor. “She created successful programs, researched programs at other colleges, and most importantly, found the millions of dollars in grant money to support these programs.”
“Under her guidance, Administration of Justice and Business grew to some of the most popular degree-granting programs at the college,” Venable said. “With her support, faculty in Computer Science and Child Development offered the first distance education courses at Gavilan.”
“She is a tireless mentor of others, encouraged me to pursue faculty leadership positions, and I know she has done the same for others,” said Venable. “And she has spent hours helping new faculty learn to be more effective teachers.”
“Sherrean is a person who always supported her staff,” said Jessica Weiler, Career Education counselor. “When I expressed interest in the counseling position, she supported me 100% and advocated for me to get the position.”
“Sherrean taught me to be assertive and ask for what I need,” Weiler continued. “She has been a great role model, boss and friend, and I will miss her dearly!”
Deep Gilroy roots and strong family connections
Carr began her career teaching at Gavilan and working in what was then called Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS). Returning from sabbatical, she was promoted to program lead. More than 10 years into her career, then-Vice President of Instruction Marty Johnson asked her to step into the position of Career Technical Education dean.
“But I am DSPS, I told him,” she said. “That’s who I am, my heart is here. He told me to keep my heart there, but I was needed in CE. And I’ve been doing it for 20 years.”
Carr’s family has deep roots in the community. Her grandfather, Graydon Carr, was Gilroy’s first city administrator. Carr Place, near Sixth Street, is named for the family. Her mother took Cosmetology classes at Gavilan and later worked at the college. “I wanted to make my family and community proud,” she said. “I did a job, it was well done, and that’s all I wanted.”
Four months ago, the family grew by one, and Carr’s first granddaughter was born. “All I want is to burn up the highway, go see my grandbaby, and I can’t because of the pandemic,” she said. “Thank goodness for FaceTime!”
Leaving Gavilan offers new opportunities. “I will stay involved in different ways now to utilize my advocacy skills,” said Carr. “That’s my strength, advocacy.” Asked what she is doing now, she says nothing. A minute later, her answer is closet cleaning. But everyone who has worked with Carr knows there is always a project.
And, in fact, there is.
Carr’s mother and aunt each had three girls. The eight women have been meeting for the past 15 years, laughing and recreating close-to-the-heart recipes from their childhoods. “This is a labor of love,” said Carr, “Of our hardcore Italian culture and heritage. A gift to our children and their children. A family filled with love, laughter, fun and food.”
Manga with Nana! a cookbook and more, will launch soon.