By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
Gainesville High School graduate Kenny Smith has boomeranged around the world and back again and in August he began his fifth year as the North Central Texas College (NCTC) vocational programs coordinator at the campus’s Career Technical Center (CTC).
As vocational coordinator, Smith has seen many exciting changes at NCTC and is looking forward to continuing to develop new programs as expansion looms with the passage of the recent NCTC school bond.
The center will undergo a much needed 10,000 square foot expansion in order to have enough space for new workforce training and expansion of the current classes.
Smith said that the facility will be able to expand southward from the current building and that the college will no longer need the additional temporary trailer space staff members had been using for the welding classes. Smith said that new programs could include a multitude of career choices that students may be interested in exploring.
“We see young people come in here who are looking for a career and not necessarily a four-year college education, Smith said. “They are looking for a job and a career path. The more we can offer them, the more success we will have.”
NCTC currently offers several different directions students can choose when they are considering their future. The career technology center provides instructional training for students as well as providing a trained workforce for local companies in the north Texas area.
“Our communities grow when we offer this kind of program,” Smith said. “We even have companies from all over the metroplex calling about our students. There is a big demand for machinist and industrial educated workers.”
The CTC currently offers class training in welding, CNC machinery, blue print reading, metallurgy, and industrial management classes such as hydraulics, pneumatics, mechanics and electrical training.
The welding program offers training in multiple processes including MIG, TIG, ARC and more. Occupational math and safety instruction are also included. At completion students are well equipped to begin their professional careers.
The HVAC program teaches students how to make repairs, trouble shoot, install heat pumps, and handle refrigeration units and ventilation systems. During this class, students can earn their EPA certification in order to handle freon which is required before going to work as an HVAC professional.
“NCTC is one of the few schools of Texas where EPA certification classes are offered,” Smith continued.
Another program being offered through the CTC is a dual education program being offered to GHS students beginning in their sophomore year.
“Sophomore students can get entry level experience, find out where their interests lie and then have their junior and senior years available to specialize in their field of choice,” Smith said. “If we can get one more teacher, we will be able to offer additional classes to students in Muenster, Valley View, Lindsay and possibly other interested Cooke County schools.”
Smith is excited about the future of the CTC center and the new programs that are also in the horizon such as upholstery and outboard marine motor repair.
“We have had marina experts such as Joe Wallace come out to teach and Yamaha outboard motor donated two motors,” Smith said. “The course takes any where from four to six months to complete.”
“These classes help kids find a career that they may not have known about before. It gives them hope and a future,” Smith said.
When Smith left Gainesville in 1967, he attended Texas A&M University and was on the team that defeated Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. After that, Smith had a stint in the Air Force from 1968 to 1972 which took him to Austin’s Bergstrum Air Force Base, Thailand and subsequently to California.
Once back in Texas, Smith specialized in welding through NCTC and spent 41 years in the oil fields and latter years as an HVAC specialist and electrician. He is highly skilled and competent to teach any class taught at the CTC and more.
His wife is Gainesville’s Jayleane Smith, curator of the Morton Museum.
“She so loves that museum and knows so much about the history of our community,” Smith fondly said. “She’s my girl!”
Grandchildren Jake and Allie keep “Papaw” Smith and grandma “Mimi” busy with family and activities.
Smith’s two sons Jeff, a head football coach in McKinney, and David, a nurse at Children’s Medical Center are highly successful in their lives and for that he is humbly grateful.
This Christmas holiday will find the Smiths on a missionary trip to Bolivia with oldest son Jeff and grandson Jake to build and renovate an orphanage.
“It’s associated with my son’s church out of McKinney. I think he thinks my experience will come in handy,” Smith laughed.
“I am so blessed and proud of my kids,” Smith said. “I guess that is why I get so excited about helping our community children. We are able to give them something they need; education, direction and a skilled vocation.”
“I heard someone say one time that if your children do well, you have hit it out of the park,” he recalled. “It’s a great feeling and I am proud to be part of this program and seeing our kids succeed.”
For Kenny Smith, it might be one long continuous run of the bases.