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Ms. Haecker Puts CTE Program On A Path To Success

Ms. Haecker
CTE Coordinator Jessica Haecker, who also serves as the Middle/High School assistant principal, is playing a key role in making the program expand its pathway offerings. (Photo by Michael Haecker) 
By Peter Day
LVUSD Social Media
A number of Lucerne Valley High School graduates have found success following the traditional collegiate path into the job market. But an alternative approach to a promising career has gained a foothold in Lucerne Valley: Career Technical Education (CTE).
Formerly known as the Regional Occupational Program (ROP), today’s CTE is now a crucial program that teaches Middle/High School student a number of specific career skills in a wide variety of career clusters. And Lucerne Valley is quickly becoming a leading CTE center in the High Desert.
“It’s kind of an explosion the last few years with CTE,” says Jessica Haecker, the Middle/High School’s assistant principal who over sees the school’s CTE program. “The goal for all our students is to complete at least one CTE pathway.”
Currently more than 80 percent of LVMHS students take CTE classes. The school’s goal is to continually increase the number of “CTE completers,” who are students that have completed a two-year sequence pathway. “Last year our CTE completers increased by 50%.”

“Old school CTE/ROP was more for your student that was going to go straight into the workforce,” she says. “CTE now is very rigorous and it’s a bridge from high school to the post secondary world, whether that’s into college or into the workforce or into training. But it gives them the real experience so they know what they’re going to get into.”
The Lucerne Valley Middle/High School CTE currently offers 10 Courses, eight Pathways under four Sectors. The Sectors are Transportation, Hospitality, Tourism & Recreation, Manufacturing and Product Development, and Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Student Phoebe Anders displays a banner she created on the school’s graphic arts equipment. Teacher Michael Haecker oversees the Manufacturing and Product Development sector.
In the Transportation Sector the Pathway is Systems Diagnostics, Service & Repair. First year course is Automotive Fundamentals & Systems, and the Year 2 offering is Automotive Maintenance.  Teacher is Robert MacDonald.
In the Hospitality, Tourism & Recreation sector the pathway is Food Service & Hospitality. Year 1 course is Culinary Arts I followed by Culinary Arts II. Middle School Culinary Arts is offered as an additional elective. Teacher is Ashley Lear.
Manufacturing and Product Development offers two Pathways: Graphic Production & Technology and Product Innovation & Design. Those students taking the Graphic Production & Technology pathway take Intro Graphic Arts their first year followed by Graphic Production (2023-2024) with the additional elective course Graphic Occupations for Middle/High School Gaming. Students in the Product Innovation & Design pathway take Product Design & Engineering I their first year, and Product Design & Engineering II (2023-24) their second year. Teacher is Michael Haecker.
Lucerne Valley’s Agriculture and Natural Resources sector, which is administered in conjunction with the school’s popular FFA program, offers four pathways: Agriscience, Ag Mechanics, Agriculture Business and Animal Science. Agriscience courses are Ag Earth Science in Year 1 followed by Ag Biology in Year 2. The first course in Ag Mechanics is Ag Mechanics followed by Ag Design/Fabrication in Year 2. Agriculture Business sector has Ag Government/Economics in the first year followed by Animal Science and Environmental Sustainability, which are college level courses in conjunction with Victor Valley College. (Students that take the college level courses do so at LVMHS and don’t have to travel to the VVC campus.) The Animal Science pathway has the Veterinary Science course for Year 1. Teachers are Troy Van Bavel and Connor Wiedeman.
“There’s a lot that goes on in CTE,” she says.
LVHS 2023 graduate Jesse Gutierrez found his future career when he went through the school’s CTE program. In the Mechanics pathway program, he and other students in the pathway went on field trip to the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville. Today he is in the Victor Valley College Aviation training program and after he graduates expects to be hired at SCLA.
Recently a group of CTE students took a field trip to experience first-hand an industry in Boron, and a number of students have been taken on local field trips to the Mitsubishi Cement plant.
Current students like junior student-athlete Arelyn Gonzalez are finding their CTE courses are inspiring them to chase their dreams. “When I grow up I want to become an automotive mechanical motorsport engineer,” she says.
Ms. Haecker is new to CTE. She has been with the Lucerne Valley USD since 2011 first teaching special education and then she became a teacher on special assignment who focused on interventions. She then was named the Middle/High School’s CTE coordinator, following the late Nancy Spillman. “I picked it up last year for the first year.”
Since then the program has skyrocketed. Within the last two years she has raised $700,000 for the program. For the first round of CTE grants she got $380,000 from Victor High School District. “They had an abundance of funds and were looking for ways to spend it, so we put together a proposal, and they were gracious enough to grant us $380,000.”
This school year she landed $340,000, which will go toward improvements for the school’s CTE classrooms and facilities. “CTE is very expensive,” she says.
CTE classrooms are different. The school is phasing out the old-fashioned classrooms and making them into legitimate work environments just like the businesses they emulate. In fact, students are thriving in the “work-based learning” environment. There is a student-led enterprise in graphic arts, the culinary program is soon opening up a café.
“It’s truly work-based learning, not just projects.”
It’s not just students who are taking note of Lucerne Valley’s CTE program. District administrators and others are thoroughly impressed not only with her accomplishments with CTE but with the many numerous ways she improves the school district. Last year she received the Profound Impact Award and then LVHS senior Itzel Ramirez Tapia was named Student of the Year at the Mojave Desert Career Pathways (MDCP) awards ceremony at Towns End Market in Apple Valley.
AT CTE COMPETITIONS sponsored by MDCP, which the Middle/High School is a consortium member, high school CTE students won second place in automotive, second place main dish in the culinary competition, and first and second place in the construction in the construction competition.
“Lucerne Valley can do good stuff,” Ms. Haecker says. “We’re little, but we’re mighty.”

“Jessica’s dedication, vision, and strategic approach to Career Technical Education has had a profound impact on the students, educators, and the community,” says Assistant Superintendent Nate Lambdin. “Her commitment to providing high-quality career and technical education opportunities has not only enhanced the skills and knowledge of our students but has also contributed to the overall growth and success of our district. Her exceptional leadership and tireless efforts are truly commendable and have made a lasting and positive difference.”
School Principal Jason Story, who now works alongside Ms. Haecker as school site administrators, agrees.
“Jessica excelled in her role as a ‘Teacher on Assignment,’ says Mr. Story. “As a teacher on assignment, Jessica has contributed in a multitude of ways. She has mentored teachers, headed the school’s EL programs, helped build the Master Schedule, supported the SAI department, led Professional Development sessions, assisted with student discipline, facilitated parent/teacher conferences, and lent a helping hand in the day-to-day operations of the front office. In addition, Jessica has been the high school Data Coordinator, WASC Coordinator, and also has successfully mentored seven teachers. Her passion for helping teachers and students has been instrumental to our growing district. 
“Jessica was also instrumental in launching Lucerne Valley High School’s ‘Mission: Graduation’ program where she has successfully helped dozens of students in the critical credit recovery process. Her diligence in creating curriculum, tutoring students, and personally following-up with every senior has made a substantial difference in the LVHS graduation rate. I have seen how Jessica is an instrumental part of every aspect that goes on here at Lucerne Valley Middle/High School. She is always willing to help in any way she can, and she really does put students first.”
Despite the glowing acknowledgements, Ms. Haecker takes it all in stride.
“I just bring it to the teachers and they make it happen every single day. They’re showing to the kids every day and getting them excited. They’re doing actual work, and that’s exciting.”
This article is featured in the new Lucerne Valley USD publication. You can download a digital copy of the publication here: