A $30 million Regional Public Safety Training Center opened in 2013 in northern Apple Valley, an extension campus of Victor Valley College, offering training to students in programs such as fire science, firefighting, administration of justice, law enforcement, correctional guard training and emergency medical services.
Along with a shooting range for law enforcement trainees, the state-of-the-art center has a four-acre prop yard with a derailed train car and buildings for practicing urban rescues, as well as a four-bay fire apparatus facility and classrooms for aspiring firefighters, police officers, paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
“The Regional Center allows us to recreate many real-life scenarios in a controlled environment, including a five-story training tower where live fires can be set so trainees can react to such an emergency situation,” says Bill Greulich, Victor Valley College Director of Marketing and Public Relations.
Victor Valley College is one of many universities and colleges throughout the High Desert that are preparing students for the region's in-demand jobs. The college also offers programs in growth industries such as construction technology, aviation mechanics, welding, respiratory therapy, phlebotomy and solar thermal installation.
“We track metrics and reach out to area companies to make sure that our curriculum is connected to what the business community really needs,” says James Johnson, Victor Valley College Contract and Community Education Program Manager. “For classroom sessions, we usually use professionals in the specific industries to teach these courses, and if they find valued students in the classroom, the industry trainers will often try to recruit those top students to work at their respective companies. Our goal is to provide quick training for students, then get them to work.”
Other universities in the region include Azusa Pacific University, which is ranked among the top 200 universities nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, the University of LaVerne and Brandman University and Park University in Barstow, both of which offer virtual classes for working adults and have been recognized nationally for their online programs.
Additional higher education options include nearby California State University San Bernardino, Four-D College vocational nursing school in Victorville and San Joaquin Valley College in Hesperia, which helps students train for careers in business, health care and technical fields, allowing them to earn certificates of completion in as little as seven months.
Young students in the Victor Valley have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in science and math at the Lewis Center for Educational Research in Apple Valley. The Lewis Center oversees a K-12 charter school known as the Academy for Academic Excellence, which is part of the Apple Valley Unified School District. Part of the AAE campus houses a NASA-affiliated observatory with a radio telescope as well as a T-40 jet flight simulator used for aviation instruction.
“We have graduated 16 high school classes at AAE and now operate a second school, the Norton Space & Aeronautics Academy in San Bernardino, that accommodates students in grades K-7,” says Rick Piercy, president and CEO of Lewis Center for Educational Research. “We have a rigorous curriculum and help kids develop a great interest in science and mathematics. Our students graduate well educated, which is necessary for the High Desert to attract businesses to our area that will rely on highly trained and highly qualified individuals.”
Piercy says NASA often sends top technicians to the Academy for Academic Excellence to instruct students on science projects.
“By having an actual NASA telescope on campus, students have worked on projects that include searching for water on the moon, overseeing a three-month study where a satellite eventually impacted the moon, and tracking synchrotron radiation emissions from Jupiter,” he says. “The 1,400 students at AAE are involved with many hands-on exploration endeavors, which helps make education more fun.”