This Week in CTE...

Do You Know Who We Are?

As I travel around Catawba County I am asked this question more than anything else:  "Do you know who we are?".  I get this question from businesses, civic groups, students, municipalities, parents and educators.  Time and again I am amazed at the lack of familiarity we have with each other and our great county.  The stress and pace of everyday life affords us only enough time to see and hear the bits of information that are thrown at us via television and social media.  If we do not take the time to tell our stories, people will forget who we are.  People will forget that our public education system in Catawba County Schools is among the best in the country.  They will forget that we have the largest high school work-based learning program in North Carolina.  They will forget that we offer Engineering, Robotics, and Computer Science in our classrooms. They will forget that we have numerous business and educational partnerships that facilitate career pathways to prosperity.

We must tell our stories and take time to share the opportunities available to all students in Catawba County Schools public school system.  I am North Carolina Public Schools, a Career and Technical Education Director for Catawba County Schools, and a graduate of Bandys High School.  I am proud to represent Catawba County Schools and public education. Do you know who we are?  Please take a moment to watch the video below to see others that are North Carolina Public Schools.

Middle/High School Principals Meeting

At this week's middle and high school principals meetings, we discussed the roll-out of our new Exploring Robotics Classes at each of our high schools.  If all goes as planned, we will be able to offer this at all five of our traditional high schools in Fall 2015.  We are also hoping to implement our middle school Technology and Engineering Robotics courses at two of our middle schools as well.  We have worked with businesses and industries to tie these programs into real job opportunities available in Catawba County.  We have also aligned these programs to work-based learning opportunities for our students.

Catawba County Schools Furniture Partnership

Our furniture partnership continues to grow this week in Catawba County.  Todd Suddreth, principal of Catawba Elementary, approached me this week regarding a school Zumbathon fundraiser targeting juvenile diabetes. Mr. Suddreth explained that they had struggled with finding items to raffle for this event.  I approached Eric Fulcher of William-Sonoma in Claremont and explained the need for support for this great cause.  Mr. Fulcher graciously committed to providing an awesome club chair for the raffle.  As an added bonus, I was able to accompany Mr. Suddreth on a tour of the William-Sonoma Manufacturing facility.  We were able to see and hear about all of the great opportunities available in this industry for our students and parents.

This week also allowed us to wrap up our plans to host the North Carolina Northwest Regional Career Development Coordinator's Conference.  This conference will focus on our many unique work-based learning opportunities available to students in Catawba County.  Catawba County Schools has one of the largest work-based learning programs in the state.  The conference will include many guest speakers and tours of local businesses.  One of our tour stops will be McCreary Modern.  Rick Coffey and his staff at McCreary have worked with us and the N.C. Department of Commerce to establish a one-of-kind furniture sewing apprenticeship.  Our first two students began participation in this program during this spring semester.  McCreary also donated some beautiful outdoor pillows as door prizes for our upcoming conference.

We also worked with Buddy Jacomine of United Sewing this week to expand our commercial sewing machine roll-out to three additional schools.  Through a partnership with United and many other furniture manufacturers, we have been able to incorporate furniture sewing into our sewing and textile classrooms.  Teachers are trained on the state-of-the-art machines by industry professionals and those skills are transferred to our students giving them an employable skill to take with them after graduation. Bandys and Bunker Hill High Schools were the first to incorporate these machines during this school year.  Maiden, Saint Stephens, and Catawba Rosenwald will be next on our list.

Work-based Learning Applications

This week marks the beginning of student registration for next school year.  Students have the opportunity to sign up for many awesome career pathway courses as well as real-world work-based learning programs that tie to those classes. We have implemented a new online application process for work-based learning to make the process of applying easier for students and parents.  You can access the new application here. Remember, work-based learning is available to rising 9th through 12th grade students.

Computer Science

Computer science drives innovation in the US economy and society. Despite growing demand for jobs in the field, it remains marginalized throughout the US K-12 education system. We plan to address this need in the coming school year by offering AP Computer Science at Saint Stephens High School.  Computer Science teacher Renae Eller has worked hard over the past year to prepare her students and classroom for this coming program.  We have also been working with IT professional Danny Chu to form a local countywide computer club to spark the interest of our students in this promising field.  Our plan is to address local business needs through this club using our students under the guidance and facilitation of Mr. Chu.  We will start with student from Saint Stephens and Bunker Hill High Schools with plans to expand to all schools in the near future.

Western Piedmont Council of Government Debuts  New Website

The Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) is the administrative entity for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and employs the staff of the Workforce Development Program. The Workforce Development staff provides oversight, coordination, guidance, planning, technical assistance and implementation of employment, and training activities. Many may not know that Catawba County Schools Career and Technical Education has a strong partnership with this organization.  We work as a team to provide employment pathways to all citizens of Catawba County.  We also partner to pursue grants to support employment and training opportunities.

The purpose of the WPCOG is to serve businesses and job seekers within Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties. Take some time to look through their website of services and initiatives to see how they can impact your success!   http://www.westernpiedmontworks.org/

Posted on March 11, 2015 .