Candice Hubbard spends her life giving to others and loves what she does. At present, she is a virtual special education teacher, ambassador for Noonday Collection and a site director for a summer exchange program, and that’s just for her working life. As a volunteer, she is on the board of the Templeton Education Foundation and Colony Days, as well as active in her church. At home, she is wife to Eddie and mom to Valerie, 7, and Evan, 3, with a third child due this summer. As a teenager, Hubbard started attending Pilgrim Pines Camp in Oak Glen, near her home of Hemet, California, which impacted most of her adult life.
“This camp, with its long history as part of the United Church of Christ, was a huge influence on who I am today,” Hubbard said. “As a teenager, I grew up spending one to three weeks at the camp as a counselor and a camper. The camp, being open and affirming of everyone, gave me the stability that I needed at a very difficult time with family issues, teenage issues and more.”
She credits the camp with her desire to become a special education teacher because she started working with disabled adults and teens. She even helped create programs for them at the camp starting when she was 16.
“I’ve always been interested in helping at-risk and marginalized people,” Hubbard said.
She also met her husband while working as a counselor at Pilgrim Pines.
“As soon as I could, I joined the paid staff there and met a core group of friends from all over the world,” Hubbard said. “There were about 20 of us over four years that worked together each summer. My future husband was among that group. He and I, having similar backgrounds, love for the outdoors and similar values, hit it off pretty quickly.”
Though together since the mid-‘90s, they did not marry until 2004, after Hubbard graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts with an emphasis in Native American studies from California State University, Chico.
After graduating from Hemet High School in 1999, she went to Butte College, which is a feeder college into Chico State.
“I worked full-time and went to school full-time,” Hubbard said.
She worked for North County Boys and Girls Club in Paradise for five years, starting while she was at Butte College and continued for a year after she finished her undergraduate degree.
“I started [at Boys & Girls Club] as an American Corp. volunteer,” Hubbard said. “I finished up some hours as a literacy tutor.”
After six weeks as a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club, she started working as a counselor. Two years later, the nonprofit created a position for Hubbard. She was the Education Director for three years. She left the position when she and her husband moved from Chico to Atascadero for Hubbard to attend Cal Poly, where she got her Masters of Education and special education credential. She obtained her degree and credential on an intensive year program.
Hubbard said she chose to get her degrees from Cal Poly because they wanted to move to the area. She did her student teaching at Daniel Lewis Middle School in Paso Robles.
She started working for Templeton Unified School District in 2007, spending three years at Templeton Elementary School, three years at Templeton Middle School, one year starting Community Orientation Adult Transition and one year as a long-term substitute.
Hubbard spent her time working for Templeton schools setting up new programs and revamping existing ones. At the elementary school level, she set up a school-wide intervention program and revamped its special education programs.
“At the middle school, I implemented a co-teaching program,” she said, adding that the co-teaching program meant that a special education teacher, such as Hubbard, was part of the general education teacher’s classroom when that teacher was teaching a class that included a larger group of special education students. “Most of the time, the general education teacher taught and I helped the students with any challenges in the classroom.”
When she left the middle school, she was charged with starting a new program for adult special needs students.
“I started, from scratch, an 18- to 22-year-old program modeled after the Atascadero STEPS (Steps into Transitioning for Education, Employment and Personal Success) program,” Hubbard said. “It’s really about figuring out where their strengths are and job training skills. We had a mobile cafe we took to school sites once a week so staff could enjoy home-baked goodies and coffee.”
The following school years, Hubbard pulled back on her full-time commitment to teaching because she wanted to spend more time with her family and explore other avenues. That year she was a long-term substitute. After a year of subbing, she went to work part-time at Pleasant Valley School northeast of Paso Robles. She was the special education teacher, as well as filling other roles.
At the start of the 2018-19 school year, Hubbard started working for Inspire Charter Schools as a virtual special education teacher.
“I coordinate a caseload for special education students,” Hubbard said. “Some of those students need support with academics. I create lessons to present to them online. It’s a video conference where I share PowerPoints that are interactive—students use tools on their computers to write, draw and move objects.”
Hubbard works with a co-teacher to teach group classes up to five children. She also has individual classes with students. In addition to managing a caseload of students from kindergarten through second grade, she also manages IEPs and consults with parents for those who need support implementing behavior and strategies.
The students are all homeschooled and Hubbard is able to give additional support to students who need it.
Nearing the end of her first year as a virtual teacher, Hubbard said the learning curve was high, but she enjoys the flexibility to arrange her work around her family’s schedule.
Additionally, she is an ambassador for Noonday Collection, which is a direct sales business selling jewelry and accessories that are fair trade and sustainably sourced.
“It’s something that not only allows me to spend time outside of my family and closer circle of friends, but it also allows me to give back,” Hubbard said. “The mission of Noonday is to support artisans by creating a global market place here locally. I represent a product that is beautiful, and fair trade makes a difference in the life of those who have made it.”
In the year that Hubbard has been working with Noonday, she said she has been able to support the yearly income of three artisans whose product Noonday sells.
“The impact I have as a very part-time ambassador means a lot to me,” she said.
Last summer, Hubbard added a new job to her basket, working for EF Educational Homestay Programs, which brings students from Asia and Europe to the Central Coast for two to four weeks in the summer.
“I am naturally a helper and a giver, so when I saw that a friend of mine needed a last-minute leader for an exchange program I jumped at the chance to use my ‘camp counselor’ skills with teens from around the world,” she said. “I loved being with the students and international leaders, learning about different cultures and helping them have a great time here on the Central Coast. It was a natural transition into a bigger role with EF in 2019 as a site director.”
Hubbard and her team are seeking volunteer host families for 148 students 12 to 18 years of age and eight adult leaders that come with the students. The students are in class or on activities Monday through Friday during the day. There are private charter buses that pick up the students from locations throughout the county. For more information, contact Hubbard at email@example.com.
“As if I weren’t busy enough, I have become involved with a few nonprofits in our area,” Hubbard said. “It’s really my desire to help and give that draws me into the mission of some great organizations.”
On the volunteer side of her life, she is a member of the Templeton Education Foundation board of directors and Colony Days board of directors.
To learn more about the annual Colony Days celebration or to get involved, go to ColonyDays.org.
Heather Young is a freelance writer specializing in travel, wine, food and feel-good stories about people doing good in their communities and world. Find her on Instagram @travelswithheatheryoung