February is CTE Month

Thank You CTE Teachers!

As Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month comes to a close, I would like to thank all of our teachers for the commitment to excellence that you bring to the classroom everyday.  CTE has transformed over the years into the cutting edge forefront of education.  With this transformation, our teachers have answered the call by re-tooling classrooms and professionally committing to learning new concepts and curricula. CTE classrooms offer a learning experience with real-world connections.  Great teachers are the bridge to these connections. 

The New CTE

Vocational Education Is Out; Career and Technical Education Is In.  Career and Technical Education is often associated with the old-fashioned trade pathway of years gone by.  Today, CTE provides a variety of career-driven pathways that lead to high school graduation, higher education and meaningful 21st-century jobs in skilled trades, applied sciences and technology. STEM education is the new CTE.  According to data collected by Innovate Catawba, in our local region alone, we have almost 4,000 jobs that cannot be filled by the unemployed population due to a lack of required skills.  This situation is a global crisis that is only going to get worse in the coming years due to the retirement of the baby-boomer generation.

red = shortage, blue = surplus, gray = bordline

red = shortage, blue = surplus, gray = bordline

In a recent TedTalk by Rainer Strack, the coming workforce crisis is made painfully clear.  Not only will we be faced with a shortage of workers, we will also have to deal with a skills mismatch within our global workforce.  To address this crisis, CTE teachers and classrooms must embrace change. According to recent College Board Data, about 60% of our students who earned bachelor’s degrees in 2012-13 from the public and private nonprofit institutions at which they began their studies graduated with debt. They borrowed an average of $27,300.  Sometimes this debt is a good investment and sometimes it is not. The Field TV recently produced a video documentary showing the burden of debt faced by our students.  I urge you to share this video with your students and their parents.

CTE is the Answer

Career and Technical Education can address the workforce problems and student debt issues of the future. We must locally implement new CTE pathways and content areas that tie to workforce needs.  We must also stress alternative educational pathways and real-world, work-based learning opportunities that often lead to free degree programs and a guaranteed job.

Catawba County Schools CTE is meeting this challenge head on.  This school year we have initiated many new innovative programs and partnerships that will insure our future workforce is ready to meet the needs of business and industry.  Below are just a few of our accomplishments:

  • We started this school year with a CTE graduation rate of 96.5%.  This is our highest rate achieved over the last five years.
  • Our CTE academic attainment in mathematics increased to 89.6%  This is a 10% increase over the previous year and our highest ever.
  • In 2014 Catawba County Schools CTE served 7,242 students and issued 2,007 industry credentials.
  • Catawba County Schools CTE ranks 14th of 119 LEAs in North Carolina for total students receiving industry standard credentials.
  • We have increased all of our Career Technical Student Organization numbers over the past 2 years and increased our funding support for these programs by 74% since 2013.
  • We have worked with Exploring Robotics and our local manufacturers to develop a local course option called Exploring Robotics.  By Fall 2015 we plan to have this course in all of our traditional high schools.  This program will lead students directly into the Mechatronics and Engineering Technology degree programs offered by Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC).
  • This past summer we offered our first every teacher/student externship with local manufacturers.  This was a partnership event between Catawba County Schools, Newton-Conover City Schools, Hickory City Schools, and CVCC.
  • As a result of a partnership with The Farm Bureau and Carolina Farm Credit, we were able to construct our largest state-of-the-art greenhouse facility at Bandys High School this school year.  The new greenhouse will begin production this spring.
  • A partnership with school administration will allow us to implement drafting, robotics, and accounting at Bunker Hill High School for the first time ever starting the 2015 school year. 
  • Our Bunker Hill Ag Mechanics program began using our first ever CAD driven table plasma cutter thanks to a grant provided by the The North Carolina FFA Foundation.
  • We have installed new commercial six burner stoves at Maiden and Bunker Hill High Schools for our culinary arts programs.  Both of these programs provide culinary services to their schools and communities.
  • Maiden High School carpentry students have partnered with many local businesses to complete a variety of live projects throughout the community.
  • This school year we revamped our Career and College Promise Welding program at Saint Stephens High School with new cutting edge welders that will allow our students to learn high-demand skills that lead to local job opportunities.
  • We are partnering with a local biometrics coding professional to form a new county-wide computer coding club to address computer science coding needs within our community.  This partnership will begin with students taking our new AP Computer Science course at Saint Stephens High School in Fall of 2015.
  • We are currently working with Fred T. Foard High School and NCWorks to establish our first ever in-school career center to service student, parents, and all community members.
  • We have partnered with United Sewing and many of our local furniture manufacturers to bring commercial sewing to our high schools.  As a result, we will have commercial equipment available to our students that will provide skills training that leads to guaranteed employment.  McCreary Modern trained our first teacher over this past summer allowing us to work with the NC Department of Commerce to establish the first sewing apprenticeship program for North Carolina high schools. Our new high school initiatives will tie into CVCC's new Furniture Academy to address the employment needs within Catawba County.
  • Through a partnership with CVCC and many local industries, we will kick off our 2015 middle school STEM tours this month.
  • We have worked closely with CVCC to brainstorm and design the Catawba County Workforce Solutions Center.  The Center will serve high school and college level students.  This will be a one-of-kind facility focusing on the employment needs of current and future businesses and industries.  Construction on this new facility will begin this year.


These are just a few of the remarkable things going on in our Catawba County Schools CTE classrooms.   Great teachers, innovative business leaders, and phenomenal students make Catawba County a great place to live and work.  Thanks for all you do!





Posted on February 26, 2015 .