Students can explore 12 different career paths in a hands-on environment while earning college credit at the KCKCC Pioneer Career Center in Leavenworth.

The career center, located at 1901 Spruce St. in Leavenworth, offers technical certificate and associate degree programs.

The courses are open to community members seeking to further their education and career opportunities, as well as high school juniors and seniors.

“Not everyone has a desire to go to college,” said Marcia Irvine, director of the Pioneer Career Center. “We offer hands-on instruction that can lead to a marketable career.”

Tuition for high school students is minimal or no cost at all.

The center has been located at its current location for three years and it has seen significant growth. Three years ago, there were only 25 students in the technology program. Now, there are more than 100. There are more than 400 total students in the technology and general education programs.

Culinary arts and health careers continue to be the most popular offerings at the technical training school.

In the culinary arts program, students learn fundamental skills of food service in hotels, restaurants, hospitals, catering, etc.

“I hope to get training here so I can go almost anywhere,” said Leavenworth High School junior Hailey Riddle, who said she wants to work in the food industry, possibly as a chef.

In the certified nurses assistant course, students learn basic nursing skills and concepts needed to function as a nurse’s assistant. 

Another popular offering is the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration course.

Jon Melendez, 26, was looking for a trade after he got out of the military. He enrolled in the HVAC program, and said he is learning marketable skills.

“There’s no better place to get hands-on training,” he said.

Also popular is the course in construction technology in which students prepare for careers in plumbing, electrical, masonry and carpentry.

An administrative office professional program is designed to prepare students to work in an office environment.

New courses added this year are biomanufacturing, cyber security, criminal justice and robotics.

“The world today is based on technology,” said Lansing High School senior Matthew Lee, who is enrolled in the cyber security program. “I’m interested in computers and programming, and the cyber security program sounded interesting. I’m learning a lot.”

There are seven full-time teachers in the technology program and 45 adjunct teachers in the general education program.

Melissa Davis has been an English teacher and academic adviser at the school since 1994. She said she has taught students in high school as well as grandparents.

For more information about the Pioneer Career Center, visit www.kckcc.edu