by Kimberly Rivers

On Jan. 26, the Bellwether College Consortium recognized two programs at Oxnard College, the Fire Academy and dental hygiene program, for innovation and excellence. 

“What makes this honor even more noteworthy is the fact that Oxnard College was the only California institution to have two programs selected as Top 10 finalists,” added Greg Gillespie, chancellor of Ventura County Community College District (VCCCD). 

Training at the Oxnard Fire Academy. Sept. 4, 2020. Photo by Oxnard College.

Bellwether awarded the top prize in the Workforce Development category for the college’s Fire Academy, which was quickly modified and designed to accommodate a first-of-its-kind hybrid learning program as required during the restrictions of the pandemic. The model created in Oxnard was replicated in firefighting instruction programs across the state, helping to ensure aspiring firefighters could continue and complete their education and training so that vital firefighting positions could be filled without delay. During the pandemic the Fire Academy achieved an impressive 100 percent completion rate, 100 percent pass rate on the California State Fire Training certification exam and zero instances of COVID-19 exposures or cases.

Joshua Chancer, VCCCD board chair, said, “This honor recognizes the resilience of the program’s students, faculty and staff and their dedication to working collaboratively across agencies to bring the program safely back after the Stay-at-Home orders.”

The Oxnard College Fire Academy is designated by the California State Fire Marshall as an accredited Regional Training Program, which authorizes the program to offer CSFM-accredited level of certification to those who complete the program. The Fire Academy can also give certification examinations for the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress and the National Board of Fire Service Professional Qualifications. The program is reviewed every five years. 

The dental hygiene program was ranked as a Top 10 finalist by Bellwether in the Instructional Programs and Services category for an approach called the “Five P’s model,” rooted in emphasizing prerequisites, performance and planning.

Oxnard College Fire Academy:

Oxnard College Dental Hygiene Program: