It has been a few years since we first visited the Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) on Portland Road in north Salem.

Initially, there was residential construction and welding classes only in the massive building. Now, hundreds of students from Salem-Keizer high schools are taking classes in manufacturing, engineering, cosmetology, auto body repair and painting, and—most stunning—drone technology, robotics and video and game design animation.

These are classes that prepare our students for tomorrow’s jobs. Salem’s CTEC is the first public-private partnership of its kind. Dozens of tours each month show off the center to educators from around the state and around the nation. Innovation, thy name is Salem-Keizer.

The Career and Technical Education Center is preparing students for high-skill, high-wage, high demand careers while developing the skills, technical knowledge, academic foundation and real-world experience to assure their success once they graduate.

At full strength CTEC will educate about 1,100 students. The students will travel from their home high schools. Aside from the technical classes students are also taking classroom courses in science and math that correlate to the skill they are learning. For example, home construction students take math to learn about angles and ratios, the type of math used in construction.

The Career and Techinical Education Center is exciting for everyone. Students are engaged (their graduation rate is above average), the teachers are focused and committed. Principal Rhonda Rhodes and the other CTEC leaders can hardly contain themselves when discussing the center.

The school district and the developers of CTEC deserve huge kudos for making their vision come to fruition.   —LAZ