Pre-Vocational Exploration Course

Note: Pre-Vocational Exploration will be renamed Career Focus for the  2024-25 school year. Watch for updates in coming weeks.

Pre-Vocational Exploration

This exciting program opens the doors to the Tech Center like never before, creating an option for students who are ready to learn the very basics of being a good employee, including:

  • following directions
  • the importance of attendance
  • completing tasks
  • following safety rules

Students in this year-long program explore one of the following areas each quarter:

  • Human Services (teaching, childcare, hospitality)
  • Industrial Technology (automotive, manufacturing, construction)
  • Business Services (marketing, retail, office services)
  • General vocational skill development (work safety, work culture)

Like our Intro to Career Technical Education and traditional programs, students learn in the classroom and get hands-on experience in our labs. They also continue the development of their Educational Development Plan (EDP), post-secondary education and work goals, and any Transition Plan activities. 

Students who successfully complete this program have several options for their next step. 

*The Pre-Vocational Exploration program is not a state-approved CTE program. Completion of the program counts as elective credit.

Meet our Instructors

Debra Rajaratne

My name is Debra Rajaratne and I am the Business Services Instructor at the Kent Career Tech Center Pre-Vocational Program. I’ve been in education for over 15 years and have been at Kent ISD for over 12. I am ready to tackle exposing students to the world of work involving the various services that students could do to help businesses function.

Industry Experience:

  • Business Services Pre-Vocational Teacher at the Kent Career Technical Center (Present)
  • English Language Arts Teacher at the Kent Transition Center (October 2012-May 2023).
  • 7th & 8th grade Social Studies teacher at Forest Area Community Schools (Fife Lake, MI--2010-2012)
  • Tutor/Instructor at Sylvan Learning Center (Traverse City, MI -- 2012)
  • Journalism/World History/English/Economics teacher at the Beaver Island Lighthouse School (Beaver Island, MI--2009-2010)
  • Government teacher at Thurgood Marshall High School (Missouri City, TX--2008-2009)
  • English teacher at Hightower High School (Missouri City, TX--2008-2009)


  • Masters of Education in Literacy Studies from Grand Valley State University 
  • Accepted into Eastern Michigan’s K-12 Basic School Administration Certificate Program (12/2022)
  • Career Tech Education Teacher Cadet Endorsement from Ferris State University (12/2022)
  • Masters in Educational Technology from Grand Valley State University (2014)
  • Bachelor in Group Social Studies Education with a minor in English from Grand Valley State University (2008)

My husband and I love to travel and we have walked on a glacier in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. I have a sari, a traditional dress, that I bought from Sri Lanka when visiting my in-laws in 2018! I love sports--especially college football and basketball. I love music and have been singing since age 4. I have been performing singing jobs since I was in 4th grade. I tried out for America’s Got Talent while I was living and teaching in Houston, TX in 2008. I love speaking Spanish and I won 2nd place two times for singing in Spanish at the Central Michigan University Foreign Language Day Competition. I have four sisters--Anne, Kristen, Pam, and Emily. I grew up on a farm. I love animals and at one time, I contemplated becoming a veterinarian. I taught limnology (freshwater biology) for the Inland Seas Education Association.

Teyondra Burch 

Hello, my name is Teyondra Burch and I have been in education for over 10 years. After graduating from Central Michigan University with a degree in Child Development and Sociology with a Youth Concentration in 2013, I became a reading interventionist with Americorps.

Following my experience as a reading interventionist, I became a CTES for the Child and Family care program and later became the instructor for that program after obtaining my Master's degree from Western Michigan University in Workforce Education and Development. I am currently working in the Pre-Vocational program as the Human Services Instructor.

My favorite part of my job is meeting and building relationships with the students I come into contact with. Watching students finally get something that is new is a huge reward. I love working with children of all ages and this program allows me to help build students skills to work with others.

Outside of work I own and operate a tutoring service, Tey’s Tutor Time. I love shopping, watching football (Go Lions), and spending time with my family.

Barry Wackerle

Hello! My name is Barry Wackerle and I am the Industrial Technology Instructor in the Pre-Vocational Exploration program.  My passion is to help others and I believe my purpose in life is to teach young people so they can become successful individuals.  I thoroughly enjoy teaching and feel rewarded for helping students learn.

  • Drafting, Technology Education and Wood Technology Instructor since 2006
  • Carpenter
  • Landscaper
  • Sales Representative
  • Bachelor's degree in Industrial Technology Education (IX) from Central Michigan University
  • Earth/Space Science endorsement (DH).
  • Working on my Master's degree in Career and Technical Education through Ferris State University.

My wife and I have three children, a dog and a cat. I have a deep love for the outdoors and enjoy many outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, cross-country motorcycle riding and snowmobiling. I enjoy fixing my own cars and trucks and I am very interested in performance engines of all types. My greatest joy in life is spending time with my family.

Makayla McGovern-Aikens

CTE Specialist  

I'm a recent graduate from Western Michigan University and studied Psychology and Integrative Holistic Health.

I like to explore the great outdoors, study herbalism, and practice mindfulness. I also like to run and participate in yoga.

I am eager to help students reach their goals. Go PRO!

Jenneth Wright

CTE Specialist 

This is my first year working as a CTE Specialist at KCTC. I'm enjoying getting to know the students and instructors. Everyone here has been friendly and helpful.

Since college and prior to joining KCTC I've had many different jobs including working as a secretary for Detroit-area law firms and then working in elementary schools with children impacted by autism.

In my spare time I love to read. I also sing with the Grand Rapids Women's Chorus, and in the spring you will usually be able to find me outside working in my yard.