John Grubbs to Lead Growing CTE Department at LHS

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) department has long been a hallmark of Lynden High School. It’s only becoming more so. 

Following the retirement of Kent Victor as the CTE director, long-time LHS teacher John Grubbs steps into the role, splitting his time between leading the department and teaching woodshop and the return of a robotics class. 

The CTE department spans five main areas—business, health sciences, family and consumer sciences, agriculture and skilled and technical training—all focused on delivering hands-on training and real-world work experiences for students still in high school. 

“If you go into Karen Pehl’s culinary arts class, that is what the students are doing, learning to be chefs,” Grubbs says. “If you go into Duane Korthuis’ training room, that is real-world. Jody Bogues’ cybersecurity class is real word. Metal shop is real world. What Henry Dodson is doing in multi-media, those students love those things. My 3D design class is students who like new technology and computers and think outside the box. We are exposing students to exactly what they see in the workforce.” 

Those examples only touch the surface of hands-on opportunities throughout CTE. And under new OSPI requirements, every student going through high school must take at least one CTE class. Nearly half of Lynden students already were, with more than a quarter of students taking two or more. The range of class offerings is impressive, as is the opportunity to really engage beyond the classroom. 

While CTE offers a mixture of classes that spans the workforce, Grubbs notes that nearly every element of CTE has an opportunity for students to gain deeper experiences. Sometimes that comes in the form of clubs and other times via community partnerships. 

Likely the most visible club is FFA, which offers a year-round opportunity for students to compete in agricultural-related fields. The club also takes center stage at the Northwest Washington Fair, offering students the opportunity to raise and show animals, among other things. But FFA isn’t all. Those interested in business have FBLA, HOSA gives health sciences a home and there’s plenty more. 

“It is an extension of the classroom to be involved in those clubs,” Grubbs says. “It is a chance to compete for what you’ve learned against other students around the state.” 

The synergy between the CTE department also helps students focus on what they’re most interested in. Grubbs gives an example of a student who thought he wanted to be a welder, but after taking welding realized what he was most enamored with was the business side of welding. That allowed him to get involved in FBLA. 

The CTE program also gives students connections beyond the classroom into both the school community and community at large. For example, student trainers work alongside Korthuis during LHS athletic events. Lynden Door’s Technic Training Center partners with LHS on a regular school-day class that invites students from Lynden to the local business for training for a career in woodworking. 

Grubbs says connecting with local businesses and industry proves critical to helping prepare students to move into the real world. “My vision is to really be current with what’s going on,” he says. “Do our classes meet our employment demand in our community and county? I just like to push the envelope and see what is new and not just be current but be a step ahead.” 

Part of that connection to the community comes from the CTE Advisory Committee, made up of community members looking to get involved by giving input and helping guide the types of courses and content taught at LHS to best prepare students for the workforce. Grubbs encourages community members to get involved in Lynden CTE through the advisory committee. 

“My goal is to really include community members and business leaders to be more actively involved in our schools,” Grubbs says, “so when our students leave here, they can walk into a job and say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen this, I’m ready to keep going, for them to keep teaching me,’ instead of, ‘I have never touched that.’” 

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