Kylie Meeker, 17, attends Merrillville (Ind.) High School and studies cosmetology at the Gary (Ind.) Area Career Center. Above, she paints the nails of Journey Thomas, 3, of Valparaiso at an open house Dec. 6, 2012. | Jeff Addison~For Sun-Times Media
The Gary Area Career Center recently welcomed students, families and prospective students to an open house.
Robert Doctor of Chicago is the new director for the center and the adult education program. He took over Aug. 1 and has years of experience with similar roles in New York, West Virginia and Arizona.
Doctor said he is excited about the changes at the center, 1800 E. 35th Ave., including the addition of New Tech High School with freshmen and sophomores.
“This year, we have increased 25 percent in enrollment,’ he said. “Add the students from New Tech, and we are 70 percent into our goal of 400 students enrolled at the Gary Area Career Center.
“We also have 15 new courses, and we’ve brought back the adult education program ... we will have six part-time teachers available.”
Another goal for Doctor is to open Workforce Development courses, so adults can get their GEDs and move closer to employment.
“We are striving to have career technical education added with the original programs we’ve had for years,” he said. “We want the community to know that we are open to help them to succeed.”
Gordon Woods’ class is popular with students of auto repair, reconstruction and car-body painting because it features a virtual simulator.
“We are the only career center in three states that have the simulator, which allows students to practice auto-body painting,” said Woods, a center graduate who has taught there 27 years.
“I took auto repair and collision,” he said. “When I saw the opportunity to return and teach, I took it.”
Woods showed visitors a 1993 Chevrolet van that was remodeled by his students. The van, painted navy and cream with African-themed decorations inside, will be given to a needy family.
“The students are very passionate and proud about building the van,” he said.
Dionne Grady is an instructor for the center’s barber college.
“This is a two-year program where students not only learn how to cut hair; they learn the academics to becoming a certified, licensed barber,” she said.
Visitors also checked out programs in cosmetology, TV and radio broadcasting, and more.