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Kent Career Tech Center and Kent Transition Center to merge

Encouraging students to ‘achieve their full potential’

Editor’s note: See this article for an example of how the merger will work for one current program.

Kent ISD — In order to be more inclusive and to offer all students broader career exploration opportunities, the Kent Transition Center and the Kent Career Tech Center will merge as the Kent Career Tech Center starting this fall.

Kent ISD Superintendent Ron Koehler noted that KTC has done well providing students who have an individualized education plan with career exploration and training opportunities. But it has been noted by local districts and Kent ISD staff that there are students who could succeed beyond what is being offered in that program. KTC helps students with disabilities explore job opportunities and learn hands-on employment skills, while the Tech Center provides training to all students for a wide variety of career fields.

“By blurring the lines between those programs and by creating opportunities for students to see and explore more and demonstrate more, we believe we’re going to create and give students the opportunity to achieve their full potential, whatever that is,” Koehler said, adding the merger also gives Kent ISD the freedom to reimagine some of the KTC space to offer more opportunities. 

The merger of the two programs meets a strategic goal to provide more student-centered programming and to better fulfill student needs, Koehler said. 

Offerings Span Several Fields

With the encouragement of local school districts they serve, Tech Center and KTC staff spent more than a year working to better align processes, timelines, enrollment and programs to create more options for students. 

At upcoming Tech Center open houses scheduled for Feb. 7 and 8, families of current 10th- and 11th-graders will be able to take a tour, meet instructors and current students and learn about courses offered, including three new introductory career and technical education courses open to all students. 

Those courses are:

  • Intro to Automotive (previously KTC Automotive) 
  • Intro to Hospitality (previously KTC Hospitality/Culinary)
  • Intro to Marketing (previously KTC Retail Marketing)

Students who take intro programs would have the opportunity to go on to more specialized Tech Center programs or work-based learning. For example, those who complete Intro to Automotive might move on to the Tech Center’s diesel and equipment technology course or enter a work-based learning program to develop skills in auto-related jobs such as detailing or changing oil. 

In a fourth program, the year-long Pre-Vocational Exploration, students  participate in classroom instruction and lab-based activities and explore four pathways, one each quarter: 

  • Human services, such as teaching, childcare or hospitality
  • Industrial technology, such as automotive, manufacturing and construction
  • Business services, such as marketing, retail and office
  • General vocational skill development, such as career-focused academics, work environment safety, social emotional learning and classroom/work environment culture.

Students who successfully complete Pre-Vocational Exploration could be recommended for enrollment in the intro CTE programs, CORE or work-based learning. 

The Feb. 7 and 8 open houses also will showcase the Tech Center’s 26 programs in the fields of manufacturing, engineering and industrial technology; business, management, marketing and technology; arts and communication, human services; natural resources and agriscience; and health sciences. 

Programs such as the Tech Center’s Emergency Medical Services will be available for students to explore at the February open houses

Two-year Shift

The merger will take about two years to complete, Kohler said. It includes transitioning a portion of the former KTC building to an advanced manufacturing hub. Kent ISD is in the process of bringing all of its manufacturing to one location. 

“For several years, those programs operated in different locations,” Koehler said. “So a student might enroll in mechatronics or engineering and might decide that it is not quite for them. So they might leave that program, but they might have been a really good fit for some other part of manufacturing, but they left it thinking that it’s ‘not for me.’”

Staff from both the Tech Center and KTC will be integrated to provide support to all students. Koehler said there also will have to be more engagement with local school districts to help determine where to best place students.

The goal, he noted, is to make sure that all students feel comfortable and have a sense of belonging to the program. 

To help with that, Tech Center Principal Joseph Lienesch has laid the groundwork for implementing a Multi-Tiered System of Support to help those who have additional needs and provide resources for success. 

Starting in 2023-24, the Kent Transition Center will be part of the Kent Career Tech Center
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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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