NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KETK) – Nacogdoches ISD held a ribbon cutting for the district’s new careers and innovation center.

The Malcolm Rector Center at the high school is one of the projects that was approved in the 2018 Nacogdoches ISD bond and renovations were completed last month.

The new center features educational labs and classrooms for high school courses such as healthcare, culinary arts and law enforcement.

“This building is designed for flexibility to grow our program, and it does give us a lot of real estate that we didn’t have in the past. We are also looking at those target occupations that are in high demand, high wage, and high skill,” said Jacob Lusk, Director of Career and Technical Education.

Job losses during the pandemic hit workers in low-wage occupations, and now careers in the technology and engineering fields can provide future options for students.

“They can go in as a phlebotomy technician and pay their way through college or go to technical school and that career will pay their way,” Lusk said. “This gives them so many more opportunities which is going to help in that post-pandemic economy and get people back to work in jobs that are meaningful.”

A ratio of one CTE class for every two academic classes was shown to minimize the risk of students dropping out.

The facility is named after former Nacogdoches ISD superintendent, Malcolm Rector, and it is the first of several projects to be completed.

“I think it is going to be a wonderful place for the whole area. It will also be accessible for other groups to come work here, meet and train here,” said LaWanda Rector.

The district expects the new center to be ready for classes this fall.