Nacogdoches school officials pitch proposed technical training center to area districts

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The proposed Nacogdoches Technical Training Center was pitched to rural school districts Tuesday.

Superintendents listened as the educators explained how they see it as a possible way to comply with a new state mandate.  House Bill 5 changes graduation requirements in order to place high school students on a career path.

Stephen F. Austin State University senior Kaitlyn Moreland said she first wanted to be a chef. An uncle in the business cooked up the idea. A progressive career technology program at Plano East High School reinforced it. Still, her future is following a slightly different recipe.

"I discovered I couldn't take the heat, so I decided to get out of the kitchen," Moreland said. "So then I decided that I would go to school for lodging."

Moreland was enrolled in a high school culinary program. In Tuesday, she and other hospitality majors served up Nacogdoches County superintendents. They're needing to provide similar career oriented instruction brought on by HB 5.

"Let's develop the career technical programs that will match our county's expectations of us," said Dr. Fred Hayes, the superintendent of Nacogdoches ISD.

Hayes sees the district's financial support of a proposed technical center as a way to comply with the specific career pathways districts are now required to offer students. Rural school districts are invited to join in.

"This is a way to reach the technical side of education that we've been lagging," said Michael Davis, the superintendent of Cushing ISD. "It's not taking away from the advanced kids. They're still able to go do their thing, but now you're offered the opportunity to need to get some type of technical training while you're in school as well."

All students beginning the next school year must complete a curriculum for at least one endorsement. They are STEM-related careers, business and industry, public services, arts and humanities, or a selection of courses from each category. The completed endorsement will appear on their high school diploma.

SFA's Culinary Science Program is hoping to build enrollment through its support of the technical school.

"We're excited about the vertical alignment which would be to get them involved in the high school level, then move on to the community college certificate level and hopefully come to us for a four year degree," said Dr. Chay Runnels, an SFA assistant hospitality professor."

It's a path similar to the one taken by Moreland. The college senior has no regrets.

"It helped give me experience in all different aspects of the hospitality field, so it made me really discover what I want to do with my life," Moreland said.

Nacogdoches County superintendents will take the idea of supporting a technical center back to their respective boards. Right now, interlocal agreements with NISD and Angelina College to use the county purchased building are close to being worked out.

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