Trystan Weir, 2015 alumnus of Greene County Career and Technology Center and Jefferson High School, knew the college path was not for him.
Weir wanted to help people and make an impact on their lives, but the path he wanted to pursue required a technical education rather than the traditional four-year college degree.
His dream was to become a firefighter. To fulfill his dream, he attended Greene County Career and Technology Center, an educational facility in southwest Pennsylvania, while enrolled at Jefferson High School.
“When I started at CTC, it was nice to get out of your regular English and math classes and do something that actually teaches you different skills that you’re not going to get in a high school setting,” Weir said. “It was way more beneficial for me to be doing that than to spend four years in college to learn to do something I don’t want to do.”
CTC was founded in 1970 for students like Weir, who are looking for a career that does not require a four-year college degree.
“Our goal is to make students either career or college ready so that they can actually pursue any option that they want to once they’re out of school,” the Administrative Director of CTC Mark Krupa said. “We dedicate ourselves to make sure that they have all the skills and all the resources to be successful.”
CTC offers 13 professional programs to the five school districts of Greene County: Carmichaels Area, Central Greene, Jefferson-Morgan, Southeastern Greene and West Greene.
Krupa said CTC begins recruiting students as early as fifth grade.
“We have an elementary CTC day and it’s very beneficial for us because it changes that perception of what we are at a young age, and it makes them aware of what we do offer here,” Krupa said.
During the organization’s 50 years, this altared perception of technical education has been a big component of the school’s growth.
“The biggest thing that has changed in our field [technical education] is that they’ve for so long pushed one pathway to success and that was always a four-year degree, and I think what’s happening is that there is a shortage of skilled laborers and tradesmen … We’ve kind of neglected those fields and now they’re very in demand,” Krupa said.
This demand is not just local, it is national.
President Donald Trump recognized this demand for technical education in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
“Tonight, I ask Congress to support our students and back my plan to offer vocational and technical education in every single high school in America,” President Trump said.
Krupa agreed with President Trump in that it would be beneficial to implement career and technical education in at least some aspects to high schools. However, it has to be done correctly.
“It’s a step in the right direction, it just has to be done correctly. So that the right people are making the right decisions on what we offer,” Krupa said. “Here at the CTC, we have what is called the Occupational Advisory Committee. I think something like that would be beneficial to carry out what he is looking to do and that has to be done at a local level.”
Greene County’s technical school offers an example of what Krupa means by “making the right decisions on what to offer.” Krupa said CTC looks to offer programs that will be consistent with the needs of local employers and businesses.
“The biggest thing we’re looking forward to in the future is serving all of Greene County and continually adapting our curriculum to reflect the job market,” Krupa said.
Central Greene School District Superintendent Dr. Helen K. McCracken recognizes the benefits of technical education in Greene County and looks forward to the future of CTC and Central Greene School District.
“The CTC is a terrific gateway to a plethora of career options for our students who may not otherwise have such opportunities,” McCracken said. “We look forward to continued work and collaboration with the CTC.”
Weir, who is currently a career firefighter in Horry County, South Carolina, was one of those students who felt like he did not have many opportunities because he did not want to go to college. CTC was able to expand his options and allow him to gain experience that he said was unlike any high school could offer.
Now, Weir said he has “one of the best, most rewarding jobs” he’s ever had.