JCTC looking for more ways to grow

A trip to visit Henderson County’s technical education program several years ago proved inspirational and transformative for Jessamine County.

“We came back with a vision for that,” Jessamine Career and Technology Center Principal Dexter Knight told the Nicholasville Rotary Club Monday. “We wrote a grant and that brought in $800,000.”

Jessamine County is one of 42 locations in Kentucky with a technical educational program, he said.

The facilities are spread between four locations, three of which have been built in the last four years.

The entire program includes diesel mechanics, an advanced manufacturing center, military leadership, criminal justice, culinary, business, biomedical classes and information technology among areas, he said.

“It has brought us to the forefront,” Knight said. “We are now the largest career and technology center. We have surpassed Henderson County.”

Not only to the facilities include classrooms, but also labs and space for hands-on learning. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that aspect has been particularly difficult in the last year, he said.

“There’s a lot of hands-on, a lot of labs that are difficult to teach over a computer,” he said.

Students also have the opportunity to earn a number of certifications or college credit through their JCTC classes.

“It’s all about stair-stepping,” Knight said.

Jessamine doesn’t have a specific program for trades such as HVAC, plumbing or construction at this point, though that is a dream. Presently, students go to Fayette County for those classes.

“That’s another area I’ve talked to (Superintendent Matt Moore) about,” Knight said. “Down the road, I’d like to have our own construction program.”

Moore agreed.

“There is a need for that in Jessamine County, central Kentucky and across the nation,” Moore said. “We do have the opportunity for students in Fayette County” but a local program would allow them to stay in Jessamine County.

“We still have room to grow,” Moore said.

“(Those trades) are the backbone of our economy,” Knight said.