Culinary arts student Elizabeth Baker, from the Lee’s Summit School District, prepares a dish in the newly expanded culinary arts facility. Photo courtesy Herndon Career Center - Raytown School District

Learning a trade: Herndon Career Center provides many opportunities for area high schools students

“We will have students attend 4-year colleges, 2-year colleges, a certification-based program, or go straight to work.”

By Tracy Allen

Test drive your future while still in high school—that’s the message promoted by the Herndon Career Center. Although the center is located in Raytown and operated by the Raytown School District, students from five area districts, including Center, Grandview and Hickman Mills, can apply to attend.

It’s a good way to get hands-on, real world experiences, say the instructors, who often partner with local businesses and organizations to provide learning opportunities. Students also benefit by gaining pre-college credit, on-the-job internships and participation in career and technical student organizations like SkillsUSA, FCCLA, NTHS and Youth Ambassadors. 

“We have a lot of industry connections,” says Brock Martin, who teaches the advertising and graphic arts program. “We have real life projects, clients that come into the program and help teach.”

Joe Pisciotta is an alumnus of the Herndon Center who helps teach in the transportation and logistics program. He believes the center gives students a jumpstart over other graduating seniors when it comes to gaining vital employment skills for the workforce.

Automotive technology is one of 20 trades taught to high school students attending the Herndon Career Center. Photo courtesy Herndon Career Center – Raytown School District

Students interested in repairing automotive and diesel machinery can work with industrial equipment and automated systems, he says. “We’ve worked on tractors, trucks, cars, anything that drove into the door, we pretty much worked on them.”

Cosmetology teacher Stephanie Migletz notes that several of her students have gone on to open their own businesses, while chef Mike Chrostowski says his students can enter the industry seamlessly after finishing the two-year culinary arts program at Herndon.

Raytown senior Tamia Trotter was typical of many Herndon students when she enrolled. She was interested in a general area— health care—but unsure about anything specific. Should she become a physical therapist, a physician or something else? After enrolling in the center’s nursing foundations program and practicing skills at a nursing home, she made a decision. After graduating this May, she plans to attend Wichita State University next fall to earn a B.S. in nursing.

“I know that’s what I want to do now,” she says. “It gave me some insight into what being a nurse is actually like…and I got to talk to a lot of different people and see what they think of the field.”

Some graduating students go straight into a job or an apprenticeship or decide to serve in the military, but the majority are accepted into a college. That’s something many students and parents don’t realize, says Cheryl Reichert, director of the Herndon Center.

“In any given program, we will have students attend 4-year colleges, 2-year colleges, a certification-based program, or go straight to work. Helping students understand the different paths and the variety of careers within a pathway is a goal of every program,” she says. “We truly believe that the future plan for each student needs to be specific to an individual.”

Some companies will pay for continuing education after hiring employees, adds Reichert, who emphasizes the need to keep building a resume. “We aren’t only concerned about students being successful while in school, but after they graduate. A lot of this is built through relationships with teachers and students knowing they can ask for help even after they graduate!”

Programs at Herndon Center and the related Southland CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) focus on animal health, automotive technology, construction trades, cosmetology, culinary arts, diesel mechanics, education exploration, emergency medical training, nursing, HVAC and industrial maintenance, physical therapy and sports medicine, law enforcement and police science, welding and metal fabrication, graphic design and cosmetology. Two new programs are turf management and horticulture and business innovation.

For more information about Herndon Career Center, visit or call 816-268-7140.


The Herndon Career Center in Raytown draws students from surrounding school districts, including Center, Hickman Mills and Grandview.

Congratulations to these south KC students

Herndon Career Center and SouthlandCAPS recognized 171 Juniors and Seniors through National Technical Honor’s Society. Below are those students from our readership area:

Ad & Graphic Design

  • Rebecca Hanch – Center
  • Joey Tejada – Center
  • Liyah Dewberry – Center
  • Geavante Jennings – Ruskin

Automotive Collision Program

  • Schuyler Berry – Ruskin
  • Ryan Woodrome – Grandview

Automotive Tech

  • Geovanny Benitez – Ruskin

Business Innovation & Creation

  • Jazmin Allen – Ruskin


  • Chelsea Berber – Grandview
  • Cydni Shaver – Belton

Education Exploration

  • Dayna Boots – Ruskin

Emergency Medical Technician

  • Emma Rogers – Center

Foundations of Nursing

  • Sabrina Dunbar – Center
  • Cieara Jones – Ruskin
  • Keshana Mason – Grandview
  • Amaya Montes – Grandview
  • Brisa Campos – Ruskin

Law Enforcement/Police Science

  • Maddison Cunningham – Center
  • Alexi Outland – Center
  • Micah Potts – Ruskin

Welding/Metal Fabrication

  • Jaclyn Harber – Grandview

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