Interest in vocational classes at GHS reaches a new peak

As the first year of instruction at Geneseo High School’s state-of-the-art Career and Technical Education Center winds down, the district’s vocational curriculum is more robust than ever and interest in those courses has reached an all-time high.

“The biggest piece to me is the overall excitement that we’ve seen surrounding this new facility, from our students to those in our community,” said Travis Mackey, director of the Career and Technical Education Center. “This building has given a shot in the arm to many of our students who really want to learn and work with their hands, whether that's with automobiles, metals or woodworking.”

Mackey also reported that for the 2024-25 school year, GHS anticipates having approximately 50% more students taking vocational classes.

“This first year was about laying a foundation and we’ve seen the interest in vocational classes grow rapidly,” explained Mackey. “Between the incoming freshmen and returning high schoolers, it looks like we will gain a hundred or more new students who want to take vocational classes.”

Interest in vocational classes at GHS reaches a new peak

Even with three full-time teachers–Kyle Bess, Bryan Stone and Nick Verbeck–vocational classes will be at maximum capacity next year, said Mackey, with the exception of the building trades class.

Along with the spike in internal interest, schools from other communities without such facilities have reached out to see if their students might have an opportunity to learn in Geneseo’s building, something Mackey will continue to explore.

While much of the work done by Bess, Stone and Verbeck revolves around instruction, Mackey is also focused on helping students learn about, and, eventually, find jobs.

“Local businesses are ready to hire our young people, whether that is after they graduate or to work over the summer,” Mackey said. “So our challenge is to strengthen the existing relationships we have, make new connections, and continue to create opportunities for our students.”

Interest in vocational classes at GHS reaches a new peak

Mackey is encouraged by how engaged Geneseo’s vocational students have been, and he’s a big believer that the more they can learn about different industries and career opportunities, the better positioned they will be to find a good fit when the time comes.

“When students are in this building, the expectation is that they are going to work,” Mackey explained. “That in itself is an essential skill, along with being focused and dependable. When you factor those qualities into the equation along with the experience and knowledge our students are gaining, employers are going to be happy with the workers they are hiring.”

As Mackey reflects on what was once a vision for the Career and Technical Education Center, he’s pleased that it has now become a reality.

“I think for the first year, we exceeded what we wanted to achieve,” said Mackey. “We were hoping students would be excited about what’s happening, but this has gone beyond what we anticipated, which is awesome. Again, it’s all about giving students experiences that will resonate and help them find their pathway.”

Interest in vocational classes at GHS reaches a new peak