In 2016, a team of educators, business leaders, and community advocates came together to tackle a challenge facing school districts across Kansas: insufficient funding for district-based technical education courses. Up to this point, many local districts couldn’t offer the skilled trades courses their students desired, simply because the funding wasn’t available.
After months of brainstorming, research, and partnership building, the team created the non-profit we now know as Southeast Kansas CTEC (CTEC). This dynamic non-profit is the result of a public-private partnership, one that allows local high school students, as well as college students and adult learners, to access excellent skilled trades education at CTEC’s campus.
The CTEC campus is a reality thanks to the generous donations of $1 million from Gene and Rita Bicknell, $375,000 from Crawford County, $30,000 from The City of Pittsburg, and $4 million over ten years from the Kansas Crossing Casino.
Fort Scott Community College (FSCC) has been a pivotal program partner since the program’s inception. FSCC provides instructors, fully accredited curriculum, and college credits to students on CTEC’s campus.
Thanks to this partnership, as well as Kansas’ “Excel in CTE” funding and generous donors, local high school students can attend the program and earn both high school and college credits for free. College students and adult learners also utilize this program as enrollees of FSCC and can access financial assistance and scholarships from both CTEC and FSCC.
CTEC has one principal goal: equipping motivated, area students with the skills they need to work and thrive right here in Southeast Kansas. We’re honored to do this work and would love for you to join us in our mission.
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Kris Mengarelli is a lifelong Kansan, life skills education advocate, and Executive Director of the Southeast Kansas Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC). He began pursuing a career in education at Pittsburg State University, where he also played inside linebacker for the University’s 1991 National Championship football team. Kris earned both his Bachelors of Education (1993) and Masters of Educational Leadership (2017) from Pittsburg State University.
For nearly 30 years, Kris has dedicated his career to empowering students across the United States with not only academic knowledge but the skills they need to be successful in life. He has taught mathematics and served as a football coach for nearly fifteen years for the Branson, Missouri; Lamar, Missouri; and Pittsburg, Kansas school districts. Kris also served as a Director at United Christian Youth Camp, an Arizona-based residential youth summer program for over a decade.
Kris’ drive to help his students reach their goals—both in and out of the classroom —motivated him to seek opportunities that allowed him to teach in the most interactive and hands-on way possible. His innovative and relational teaching style, along with his belief that not all students fit the same mold, uniquely equipped Kris with the passion and skills needed to become CTEC’s Executive Director in the Summer of 2017.
As Executive Director, Kris oversees mentoring students, collaborates with instructors, partners with local businesses, and serves as an ambassador to other like-minded organizations. Under Kris’ leadership, CTEC has reached record-breaking enrollment.
When Kris is not helping CTEC grow, you’ll find him spending time with his wife Amy and their three children, or in the great outdoors.
*Approximate All Time