Stan Sluzenski to be Director of SCRTC

Photo: Stan Sluzenski has been named as the new director of St. Croix Regional Technical Center in Calais. Having served as the Building Trades instructor for 18 years, Sluzenski is passionate about the school and what it represents to students and the community. (Photo by Lura Jackson).

By Lura Jackson

 

The concept of apprenticeships and trade instruction for young men and women has been a highly valued one for hundreds of years in European societies. In modern America, that concept manifests in high school-level career and technical education schools that offer students the ability to participate in their desired field before they graduate. Eastern Washington County is fortunate to have such a school in the St. Croix Regional Technical Center (SCRTC) in Calais – a school that will now be under the directorship of Stan Sluzenski, following the retirement of Bob Moholland.

Having served as the Building Trades instructor for the past 18 years, Sluzenski comes from a background clearly devoted to teaching his trade. Born in Pennsylvania, Sluzenski attended technical college in Scranton where he received his associate’s degree in building construction. Prompted by other family members, he moved to Maine, where he had the opportunity to build his own workshop and access substantial woodlands to work with. He owned and operated his own business for several years, doing finish carpentry and building a few homes. After a time, Sluzenski had the opportunity to take a class about teaching, prompting him to sign up to be a substitute teacher at SCRTC. An opening arose for the Building Trades instructor position, and in 1999, Sluzenski received the position.

“It’s wonderful,” Sluzenski said of the school itself and its teaching modality. “It exposes students to things they thought they’d never try or like. It gives them educational opportunities that they might not realize along the way.” He explained how building trades is filled with math while welding and culinary arts involve ample chemistry. “It’s part of the learning, part of the course – you don’t even realize it while you’re doing it, but ultimately this is what it comes down to.”

Beyond simply teaching students how to better understand certain subjects, the goal of SCRTC and similar schools is to provide students with a nationally-recognized certification in the trade of their choice. Every program at SCRTC – including Automotive Technology, Building Trades, Business Administration, Certified Nursing Assistance, Computer Electronics, Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Education, and Welding – is dedicated to that purpose. The programs at SCRTC are open to all high schools in the area, with schools coordinating schedules and transportation to ensure that all educational requirements and needs are met.

Sluzenski’s passion for the school is evidenced by his desire to lead it – a path he embarked on when he started his master’s degree in organizational leadership at St. Joseph’s College. Taking the classes online, Sluzenski was able to tailor all of his classes to SCRTC. “When I took school finance, I did this school’s budget,” he explained. “When I took organizational development, it was this organization.” Having spent 18 years in the school, Sluzenski knew he wanted to work with the staff in a higher capacity.

Going forward, Sluzenski aims to keep all of the existing programs at the school current with national standards and to ensure that the three teaching vacancies that are arising will be filled by dedicated instructors. The incoming teachers will be in the Building Trades, Automotive, and Business Administration programs. “Knowing what it was like when I started, the kind of guidance and coaching teachers need, I know I’ll spend a lot of time with that,” said Sluzenski. 

Two of SCRTC’s former offerings – Fire Science and Truck Driving – are on hold. The Fire Science program has had low enrollment and the instructor is retiring, though Sluzenski says the school will be attempting to recruit interest in the coming year. The Truck Driving program lacks an instructor due to the requirement of being a certified teacher and a state driving instructor. “Finding someone to meet all those requirements is really difficult,” he explained.

While school enrollment in general in the area is down, making expansion a challenge, Sluzenski said that the school has been exploring the possibility of offering a cosmetology program and a law enforcement program in the future. 

For now, Sluzenski says the school will continue doing what it does best – providing students with national certifications, hands-on learning experiences, and exposing students to doing work in the community. “It’s great, both to help the community and to get the students out there interacting with people and realizing that this is what life’s about: you’re working but you’re helping people at the same time.”