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Travis Redfield & Shannon Sims

ABS instructor inspires her students

While studying at RCC in preparation for taking the GED® exams, Travis Redfield was amazed at how well instructor Shannon Sims worked with students for whom schooling had become a “four-letter word.”

“Shannon Sims builds a curriculum that works well for her students,” Redfield said. “That’s a challenge because her classroom is full of students who classrooms didn’t work for, so Shannon has to innovate.”

Simms started teaching at Rogue as a part-time instructor in Adult Basic Skills in 2004 and became full-time in 2008. Prior to joining RCC, she was a trainer for Darden Restaurants, then worked as an AmeriCorps member teaching at-risk youth at Crater High School. She also worked as a crew-leader with The Job Council.

“I was lucky to find a place at RCC rather early in my career,” Simms said. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern Oregon University and received a Master’s degree in education (human resources and organization education) from Oregon State University.

“I love that my work allows me to help young people believe in themselves, become confident, inspire hope, and transform their lives, their families, and their community,” she said. “It is such an honor to be a part of this transformation. I also love that my work allows me to help other teachers serve this special population of people better.”

Earning GED® through RCC helps Travis Redfield reach his goals

Not too long ago, Travis Redfield was a bored high school student just marking time.

“I was a warm body in a chair. I was absorbing information but not doing much with it,” the Medford resident said. Redfield bailed out of school, went to work at Walgreens, but then left that job. At his dad’s urging, he decided to check out Rogue Valley YouthBuild.

“I’m very much a technology-minded person, and I’d been spending lots of time on the computer,” Redfield explained. “So it seemed a good idea to get out and do some real work.” And what he found in YouthBuild turned out to be fulfilling work.

After successfully passing a two-week challenge period, Redfield was accepted into the nine-month construction-training program in Jackson County. YouthBuild helps young people ages 16 to 24 move on to employment or college. It focuses on construction training, job shadowing and internships, life skills and work ethics, and training in community leadership. Administered by The Job Council, the program is funded by a grant from the President's Community-Based Job Training Grants.

Earning a GED® through Rogue Community College is an integral part of YouthBuild, and Redfield alternated between spending one week in the classroom with RCC instructors and the next week on a construction site building environmentally sustainable homes for low-income residents.

He discovered that in the right academic setting, he flourishes as a student.

“Shannon Sims is a fantastic teacher and also a great facilitator,” Redfield said of his RCC Adult Basic Skills instructor. “She builds a curriculum that works well for her students. It’s impressive to see a teacher who can inspire students to learn.” For Redfield, the work has really paid off.

“I’m enjoying school now,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have a teacher like Shannon who is very skilled at what she does.”

When Redfield took the GED® exams, he scored in the top 2 percent nationally. Now he’s continuing his education at RCC, working toward a transfer degree, and has taken RCC construction classes with instructor Avi Zohar. The construction classes have introduced him to the trades and helped him earn a job as a YouthBuild graduate leader with The Job Council. He also won election as a student representative on YouthBuild USA’s National Young Leader Council.

“YouthBuild is not just a training program; it’s a transformation program,” Redfield said. “It’s an opportunity to change your life, but you have to be ready to want to change.”

Redfield’s not sure what he wants to do after he earns a degree although he intends to continue involvement with YouthBuild and doing youth advocacy work. He realizes, too, that he has other avenues to explore.

“I’m feeling this way: With how winding my path has been, it’s hard to tell the future, but I think it will be good.”

To see Travis speaking last year at the Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., visit www.YouTube and watch the video.

For more YouthBuild information call 541-842-2566, e-mail, or visit

Have a story idea for the website? Please E-mail Rand Hill

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