Cape Coral Technical College celebrates 25 years
In 1993, a man with a dream determined that a technical school was needed on the northern end of Lee County.
On Wednesday, 25 years and several name changes later, Cape Coral Technical College celebrated its silver milestone with faculty, friends, dignitaries and those who were responsible for making their “Field of Dreams” a reality all those years ago.
Which made it appropriate that the event had a baseball theme, with the culinary arts students serving up hots dogs and Cracker Jacks.
Judy Johnson, director of CCTC, said the school has evolved with the times, growing from court reporting to many jobs in the medical and IT fields.
“We have 18 programs and about 250 people currently enrolled, but unlike traditional schools, our programs run throughout the year,” Johnson said, adding that their students get financial aid, but not loans, so that when they graduate they are debt free.
The school on 360 Santa Barbara Blvd. N. is in pretty much the center of town. Back when it opened, it was isolated, a dream in the mind of Ken Evans, who was the director of vocational education.
Sue Kasper-Knapko, the original director at CCTC, said the best thing about working at a new school is being able to pick your staff.
“We got to create a culture and feel. This place was Ken Evans’ dream and he had a vision that we needed a second school in Cape Coral,” Kasper-Knapko said. “He couldn’t get it through the school board because it was in growth mode. He got the state to approve it, so it started as a field of dreams for him.”
Kasper-Knapko had to get people beyond the stereotype that a vocational school was for troubled students. The building was designed to look like a business office, for adults, and to be flexible, depending on the job market.
People came, mainly because it offered programs in fields that were in demand at the time such as business and technical.
Over the years, the school has been able to reinvent itself to offer the programs in demand today, such as medical, dental, cosmetology, culinary and more.
Dona J. Hoyt, one of the original instructors, said in her 25 years teaching operating room technology, things have changed radically, but the faculty has always remained close.
“When it opened, I was able to fit right in and I’m still here. The community of people who work here is a family,” Hoyt said. “We graduated 10 students in December and they’ve all gotten employment.”
During its history, the school has been called Lee County Vocational High Tech Center North, then shortened to High Tech North, then Cape Coral Institute of Technology, and finally Cape Coral Technical College.
CCTC is already planning for the next 25 years. They hope to construct another building and expand their offerings into the trades, such as auto mechanics, welding, and more.
“There has been a lot of interest and requests from our local workforce board that want us to start additional programs such as automotive service technology, HVAC, building and construction, marine mechanical and more,” Johnson said.
Dana Brunett, economic development director for the city of Cape Coral, said CCTC has been one of the true assets the municipality has in bringing in-demand jobs to its citizens.
“It gives people an avenue to go into the trades, and people coming out of high school don’t know what they want,” Brunett said. “They may not be able to afford a four-year college or are looking for a new career, so this is a viable alternative.”
Kasper-Knapko said the school’s mission has always been the same; fulfilling dreams.
“This is where people come, young people who have dreams and older people who are dusting off dreams,” Kasper-Knapko said.