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Three men changing education

If Chuck Lee and John Honey get students as excited about the Career Technical Education Center (CTEC) as adults, the facility will surpass all expectations.

The Career Technical Education Center—long a dream of the Salem-Keizer School District—is scheduled to open this fall on Portland Road. Budget cuts of more than $120 million a few years ago put the kabosh on the district moving forward. It took the zeal and vision of Larry Tokarski’s Mountain West Investment Corp. to provide $7 million to make the center a reality.

Lee and Honey have been making presentations around Keizer and Salem to talk about the vision and creation of CTEC. It is hard not to be infected by their excitement and enthusiasm.

The CTEC will prepare students for high-skill, high-wage jobs that will be in high demand as millions of Baby Boomers start to retire from positions in the trades such as mechanics, plumbing, construction, electrical and the like. Accepted students will remain enrolled at their resident high schools; they will take advanced electives as well as math and English at CTEC.

The first classes will begin this fall.  The goal is enroll up to 200 students, with an eventual student body of 1,000 within five years. The first class will find a large remodeled facility. Students will have access to transportation from their own high schools to CTEC. They will also be able to continue to be involved with extracurricular activities such as sports and the arts.

At the Career Technical Education Center students can earn up to 35 total credits over a two-year period. They will take classes, many taught by experts, will take them from introduction to manufacturing and onto skills that are vital in the trades including reading blueprints, precision measuring and hands-on building.

The number one concern of owners of construction and manufacturing companies is their need to replace retiring employees and not being able to identify skilled workers. The education center addresses that concern head on. High schools will always graduate a number of students who wish to attend college and enter a non-trade career: finance, law, medicine, etc. The Career Technical Education Center is an excellent option for those who don’t wish to be a lawyer or doctor but want to make a good living.

Chuck Lee and John Honey bring many years of educational experience to their task of creating the center and getting it operational. Lee, until recently, was president of Blanchet Catholic School and sits on the Salem-Keizer School Board; Honey was principal of both McNary and North Salem high schools.

Lee, Honey and Tokarski are a formidable team creating an educational facility not found anywhere else in the country. Due to their vision Salem and Keizer are on the cutting edge of vocational education. We’re excited and we want our kids to be excited, too.