February Students of the Month

Congratulations to Matthew Behnke and Kaylah Nicholson, February's Students of the Month.

Matthew Behnke

Serving His Community One Step at a Time

Matthew Behnke of North Haledon is a determined and kind young man in PCTI’s School of Automotive Technology. Holding an amazing 4.2 GPA, Matt currently ranks in the top 5% of his class and will graduate from PCTI with an outstanding 25 potential college credits!

Matt has a knack for fixing things and is curious to understand how they work. These interests led him to the School of Automotive Technology, where essential career and technical education training has enhanced his self-reliance and ability to fix things on his own.

Since September of 2019, Matt has held two jobs in the automotive industry. First, he works at Allstar Transmission Specialists in Haledon, where he works three days a week and installs and removes transmissions. Additionally, Matt works at 821 Collision in North Haledon, where he restores old vehicles. Matt notes that he has applied what he has learned in high school to these jobs and continues to enhance his knowledge of the automotive industry through his work experiences.

Outside of the classroom, Matt serves as a volunteer firefighter in Wyckoff and Haledon. Inspired by his father and older brother who are firefighters as well, Matt has been a volunteer for the past two years, as he first became a volunteer at the age of sixteen. When he isn’t volunteer firefighting, Matt enjoys various hobbies including spending time outdoors and participating in activities like fly fishing, mountain biking and woodworking. He is also a skilled blacksmith and creates hand wood carvings.

After graduating from PCTI, Matt has plans to continue his current passion for firefighting and strives to become a wildland firefighter. This job will allow him to expand his love for spending time outdoors as he continues learning through hands-on activities.

Matt reflects positively on his time at PCTI, noting the many opportunities the school provides through practical learning activities, opportunities through CTE programs and work study experiences. Offering advice to other students, Matt says, “Don’t set limitations for yourself. Identify your goals and figure out what you’d like to pursue.”

Congratulations, Matt! Best of luck in your future endeavors and keep up the amazing work!


  • Ranks in the top 5% of his class
  • Will graduate with 25 potential college credits
  • Works at Allstar Transmission Specialists in Haledon, and 821 Collision in North Haledon
  • Serves as a volunteer firefighter in Wyckoff and Haledon
  • Goal: Become a wildland firefighter

Kaylah Nicholson

Artistic Creativity and Peer Leadership

Kaylah Nicholson of Passaic is a creative and motivated student in PCTI’s School of Culinary Arts. With an outstanding 4.4 GPA, Kaylah ranks in the top 2% of her class and is positioned to graduate from high school with 18 college credits!

Kaylah was inspired to join PCTI’s School of Culinary Arts because her great grandfather was a successful chef. In addition to her passion for art, the culinary arts program provided an excellent outlet for Kaylah’s creativity. Kaylah praises the valuable culinary techniques she has learned via her career and technical education and is grateful for the supportive environment and sense of camaraderie within the program.

Kaylah has enhanced her education through hands-on learning experiences, as she is a Kitchen Assistant in the STEM Academy through the School of Culinary Arts’ co-op program. She is also a member of Student Council/ Interact Club and was selected to participate in a weeklong Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) training experience with four peers. Through this activity, Kaylah worked with other student council organizations from across the state to learn about Rotarian activities and how to bring these skills back to PCTI.

After graduating from PCTI, Kaylah plans on attending college and pursuing a profession within the medical field, with an emphasis on neuroscience. Kaylah would love to continue her academic studies at a renowned institution like Johns Hopkins University or Duke University.

Kayla reflects on her time at PCTI with appreciation and passion. “There are so many opportunities to access, and you meet so many people you wouldn’t have the chance to meet elsewhere.” Plus, Kaylah notes the benefit of getting involved in activities beyond your chosen programs of study and the importance of exploring your interests.

When reflecting on her growth from freshman year, Kaylah says “I used to be much more shy, but now I have gained so many great friends. I’ve achieved a lot more than I ever thought I could.” Kaylah advises other students to “actively look for opportunities, as there are so many organizations and volunteer activities to get involved with.”

Congratulations, Kaylah! Keep up the awesome work, and best of luck in your future studies!


  • Ranks in the top 2% of her class
  • Will graduate with 18 potential college credits
  • Has volunteered at an elderly residence home in Rutherford
  • Member of Student Council/ Interact Club
  • Serves as a co-op through the School of Culinary Arts
  • Goal: Attend Johns Hopkins University and pursue a career in the medical field