The Cobre Valley Institute of Technology (CVIT) recently acquired two new teachers through Eastern Arizona College Gila Pueblo Campus as the Career Education and Technical District (CTED) continues to improve programs for students in the Copper Corridor.
The new instructors for the HVAC and Cosmetology programs represent a wide range of experience, from a longtime CTE instructor to a young local business owner passionate about his work.
Tucson native Alison Zache brings years in the classroom to the cosmetology program and has found her comfort zone despite beginning in the middle of the school year.
“It’s always interesting when you first start with new students,” Zache says. “But they’re really starting to feel trust, coming to me with questions, getting more involved and responding. It just takes time.”
Zache has been cutting hair since she was in high school, and spent much of her teaching career in technical schools in the Valley.
In an effort to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Phoenix area, Zache recently moved to Globe with her husband Zachary Zache, a multi-generational product of the Copper Corridor.
Zache began her teaching career 15 years ago at Northland Pioneer College (NPC) at the Winslow campus in Joseph City when she was looking for something to do beyond cutting hair.
“If you’ve ever been to Joseph City, you know there’s not much between Holbrook and Winslow,” she says. “There wasn’t anything to do there, so I went back to school to learn to teach.”
From there Zache’s family moved to the Valley where she held several teaching jobs in CTE schools, including Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) in Buckeye.
But as her children moved on and started families and careers of their own—her son Zachary is a teacher in Marana; Oliver a forest ranger in Prescott and Cassidy a vet tech in Globe—the Zaches decided they wanted to get away from the explosive growth going on around them and get back to a slower pace of life.
“I always had my eye on teaching here because I love Globe,” Zache says. “I love the area and we were ready to get out of the Valley.”
Although she started mid-year, with the help of her experience teaching similar programs, Zache had a fairly smooth transition into the classroom.
The Cosmetology program is a lot more complicated than people might think. In addition to being on their feet much of the day, hair stylists must learn about toxic chemicals and dyes as well as the anatomy of the human head, skin and circulatory system. Those who opt for the second year of the program, which focuses on skin and nails, must learn additional anatomy, more chemistry and some basics about electricity for the tools in the modern salon or barber shop.
“A lot of the general public thinks, ‘oh, you’re just gonna go and play with hair and makeup, and it’s just gonna be a fun time,’ but we’re on our feet for eight or nine hours a day,” Zache says. “There’s math, there’s science, there’s anatomy, there’s chemistry, there’s electricity, there’s so many things they have to learn and understand.”
Students must also learn the business aspect of cosmetology as well as how to deal with the public and coworkers they may not normally be drawn to.
Most of the hands-on learning takes place in a well-appointed salon on the Gila Pueblo campus, initially on mannequins before students get to work on human subjects. The salon is open to the public and the program charges a nominal fee for services with the money going back into the program.
“I didn’t even know we had to learn about that stuff and it was for the nurses to learn, but you have to know it to make sure you don’t do something wrong,” says student Chloe Courtney.
Courtney is a sophomore at Globe High School and enrolled in the program because she enjoys styling hair and wants to have additional skills when she graduates from high school.
“I don’t really know what I want to do for my future, so this is something I can fall back on, or it could be my full-time career,” she says. “It’s something I enjoy, so that’s a really good start.”
The chance to pass on her craft and prepare her students for the future is a big draw for Zache, as well as the opportunity to show high school kids that they have opportunities outside of a four-year college.
“I want them all to be successful” she says. “Ultimately, we’re going to teach them leadership, communication, customer service, all of these skills they’ll need in the future.”
For 26-year-old Justin Henderson, HVAC is more than a career: It’s a calling.
“While working in the mines, I realized HVAC is life for me,” Henderson says. “It’s changed my life in so many ways, from opportunities to just steering me in the right direction in life.”
Despite his youth, Henderson, a Globe native and Miami High School graduate, has led an eventful life that includes opening his own business, Just IN Time Heating & Cooling, at the height of the COVID pandemic.
“It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done,” he says. “I wouldn’t change it though and we made it out of 2020 alive.”
Henderson started working at Kwik Kool Refrigeration in Globe at the age of 16 and his desire to learn more took him to CVIT in 2019. From there he went to work for ASARCO, but became restless when he felt he’d learned as much as he could from the mining company.
“I’m a fast learner, so if I can’t learn something new, I get bored,” Henderson says. “I learned what they had and was working on a lot of low-temp equipment: walk in refrigerators, freezers, stuff like that.”
Even after he went into business for himself, Henderson looked for more things to learn. He took on an electrical apprenticeship at Freeport and traveled the country going to seminars and visiting factories to learn various aspects of refrigeration from the latest equipment to regulation of the industry.
When a former instructor reached out to see if he was interested in teaching, Henderson was hesitant, but eventually took on the challenge.
“At first I really was not interested, but I come from a family of teachers,” he says. My Aunt Judy was a teacher; my grandma was a teacher and my mom and dad were teachers.”
Entering the classroom was a challenge in and of itself, but Henderson tapped into his desire to pass on his craft and share his passion with students.
Henderson can also offer a fast-track into the business with his connections within the industry and has allowed the program to use some of his modern equipment—such as virtual reality training—as CVIT begins to invest in a growing program.
“We’re still adapting but we’re growing very quickly,” he says. “It’s come so far from when I took the class back in 2019 and it’s way more advanced.”
Globe High School senior Rogelio Contreras is in the last semester of the two-year certification program and will graduate soon.
Contreras plans to use the knowledge he gains to help support himself as he pays for further schooling once he graduates. He appreciates Henderson’s approach to teaching and says it helps him figure things out on his own.
“If we don’t figure it out in a certain amount of time, he’ll give us a hint so that we learn how to do it without relying on someone else,” Contreras says.
For CVIT, the new instructors are vital pieces of the future of both programs, particularly with their deep connections to the Globe-Miami-San Carlos community.
“So far, the students are really pleased with Justin,” says CVIT Central Campus Counselor Aja DeZeeuw. “They loved the previous HVAC instructor so I was feeling like the new instructor was going to have really big shoes to fill, but he’s come in and done great.”
Likewise the initial impression of Zache has been more than good.
“When I heard Alison had experience with Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology (NAVIT) and West-MAC, I knew she understands and gets high school kids,” says CVIT Superintendent Mike O’Neal. “She came in with more experience than any of our instructors in the past and. I feel really good about her coming on board.”
Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.