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Shady Valley native is building RTC into a national STEM powerhouse

Shady Valley native Stan Shoun and retired Naval Academy engineering teacher builds a national STEM program. Photo submitted

Contributed by St. Louis Business Journal

During his time in the Navy, Stan Shoun, 67, was assigned to teach engineering at the United States Naval Academy. He loved it, and knew he had found a calling. After retiring from the military in 1996, Shoun, a Shady Valley, TN native, embarked on a second career in education. Most recently, he spent about 10 years as president of Ranken Technical College before being named CEO in 2019.

Since Shoun joined Ranken, the college has opened two satellite campuses in Missouri, with another slated to open this fall in Troy, Missouri. Shoun also has focused on building a pipeline of STEM talent by collaborating with middle and high schools and partnering with companies to give students real-world experience. Ranken has roughly 1,800 students, employs 343 people and had revenue of about $33 million in 2020. With apprentice programs in 10 states, the college is poised to continue expanding nationally.

“The overall need for a technical workforce is universal,” Shoun said. “So we’re going to continue to work with our partners and continue to help deliver the 21st century workforce.”

“One of the things that became very obvious is that if you take a look at what we do, we teach hands-on skills,” he said. “Very shortly after the governor had declared the statewide shutdown, we basically opened back up, and we are back into full swing. Now, obviously we had to adhere to all of the health care recommendations from the industry. But our school has been in full swing since back in May. We’ve had a few positive (Covid-19) tests, but most of them have been traceable back to out-of-school contacts.”

Since the pandemic began, Shoun has become a bit more sensitive to the process of the instruction and very much in accordance with all of the CDC guidelines. “But overall,” he said, “I’m just being sensitive to family contacts, taking in a more universal approach toward leading Ranken to make sure that safety is always the No. 1 priority.”

Shoun’s most significant accomplishment at Ranken is seeing nearly 10,000 students graduate. “We figure that about 90 percent of them are still employed, and their five-year average salary is about $50,000 a year,” he said. “So if you do all that math, that means we’re putting about $450 million a year into the tax rolls for the region. We think that’s pretty significant by any stretch of the imagination.”

Shoun has two grandkids, and said that “spending time with them is an absolute priority across the board for me. As I said, I spent 24 years in the military. I have two kids that are grown, and I missed a lot of things because of being gone from the family at that particular time. So I’ve made it a priority to make sure I don’t miss my grandkids’ lives.”

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