PITTSBURG — Greenbush Education Center is partnering with Pittsburg State University to support teachers throughout the state with a nearly $900,000 grant.

The grant was awarded to Greenbush, and aims to help career and technical education teachers around the state with the help of PSU’s Kansas Center for Career and Technical Education. The partnership with KCCTE will be to enhance its teacher mentoring program.

The mentoring program focuses on CTE teachers at public schools by connecting them with experienced mentors to work on items like classroom management, laboratory organization, the creation of student organizations and more.

“This program helps create a network and offer support to CTE teachers, who are often the only person in their district teaching in their specific field,” KCCTE Director Greg Belcher said. “They have unique challenges and can become disconnected from the field in which they’re teaching.”

Belcher said new CTE teachers — such as agriculture, welding, woodworking, etc — can become overwhelmed if they have no support system. Some have a short teaching career or turn to the private sector when they feel teaching isn’t working.

The program started with PSU professors as mentors, but many have now become the coordinators over specific fields. The grant through Greenbush pays for mentors’ expenses, and KCCTE sets them up with teachers across the state.

Mentoring Initiative Coordinator Kevin Elliott said the program has gone from 30 mentors earlier this year to nearly 120.

“Mentors offer encouragement and tips on how to be more efficient,” Elliott said. “When we first meet, teachers often think they are doing everything wrong, but we help them pinpoint problems and show them how to fix them — and we get to see the neat things they are doing as well.”

Elliott said the mentor program also helps build a network, connecting CTE teachers in the same field to learn from each other, along with learning from mentors.

The program has also expanded to work with other Kansas Board of Regents universities with CTE programs — including Emporia State, Kansas State and Fort Hays State.

Each university will manage the mentor program in their respective region.

Belcher said the partnership with Greenbush and these other organizations will take KCCTE’s work to the next level.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.