First-year Kirksville, MO, Area Technical Center Director Jesse Wolf was attending a conference when he heard a line that pretty much sums up his top priority for the upcoming school year.
“I don’t want our tech center to be our community’s best-kept secret anymore,” Wolf said. “I don’t think people know what we can do here and what we can do for the community.
“There’s some amazing stuff in this building,” he said.
Wolf will replace Sheryl Ferguson, the longtime tech center director who retired at the end of the 2018-19 school year. He spent the last four years as an assistant principal at Kirksville High School, getting valuable—albeit different—experience. His previous responsibilities centered on student discipline.
“This is a little bit different,” he said with a laugh. “This is a lot of financial, looking at federal funding, the grants.”
Wolf himself is a product of a technical center education. After high school, he joined the military and then went to college.
That’s one point he wants to emphasize with today’s students, some of whom he said see a binary choice: college or the tech center.
“I hate when people say kids who come here (to the tech center) aren’t going to go to college,” he said. “It’s about getting those kids, getting them to step forward when they get out of this building, convincing them that you can get a really good job, especially right now, without going to college. If (college) is in your future plans, then so be it.”
“It’s grabbing those kids and showing them what all they can get,” he added. “It’s more than your diploma.”
Wolf said he saw how the programs offered at the technical center could benefit the kids he was working within the high school. That’s part of the reason he wanted to pursue the opening, seeing it as a chance to get more involved with helping those students succeed.
He wants to invite all of those students to check out what the tech center has to offer.
“They need to come in here and see what we have to offer. Look beyond what you have in front of you. There are so many opportunities to take what you’re doing and compound that into certifications and experience,” Wolf said.