By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

It was called educator/counselor day, a time for high school instructors and counselors to visit the college campus and take back information to their students.

Thing was, they were the ones getting educated and counseled on why "our school should be (students') destination of choice," said Angel Prescott, dean of student services for North Central Kansas Technical College.

At the Hays campus educator/counselor day earlier this month, Prescott mentioned to the group of instructors and counselors more than once the college's "hands-on skills, high-tech careers" brand.

She also talked about several opportunities for high school students to take college classes while still in high school, "personalizing their classes so they can be ahead when they get here."

The group got a tour of campus, visiting with instructors in the various programs -- business, automotive, pharmacy technician and nursing in the morning and carpentry, electrical technician, heating, plumbing and air conditioning and welding in the afternoon.

The NCK Tech instructors touted smaller classes and hands-on learning opportunities as two of the main pluses for choosing their college.

Plus, said Mark Rathbun, instructor and department chairman of automotive technology, "we know what our employers are expecting of our students. We can put them to work right away."

"Because of our size, we can work one-on-one with students better," he said, adding, "and I hope I make a difference."

Sandy Gottschalk -- then director of nursing who since has been named the new dean of the Hays campus -- pointed out the school's state-of-the-art laboratories for nursing students.

She also stressed how students can get their start in the health-care profession in high school, through the allied health program.

"We've turned out 20-year-old (registered nurses)," Gottschalk said.

"It's great to hear other people ask questions and learn how they are doing things in their schools," said Tom Albers, assistant principal at Hays High School in charge of HHS' career and technical education program.

Albers attends at least part of the technical college's educator day each year, "trying to keep current with what they're doing."

This year, he went specifically to check out the school's newest program -- culinary arts.

"I wanted to learn about the basics of that program and see how we can meld that into our schedule," said Albers, who has students attend NCK Tech in auto mechanics, electricity, allied health and pharmacology.

"This seems like another (program) that would fit right in with what we do," he said, "which is great for the students."

Prescott also talked about the technical college's skilled workforce mentality and even more partnerships, including several with Fort Hays State University, making NCK Tech a diverse education.

"We want you to think NCK Tech is the best viable option," she said.