On April 4th, SVHEC shined a spotlight on the Career Tech Academy (CTA) for a delegation of state education officials. Secretary of Education Amy Guidera, Deputy Secretary of Education Sarah Spota, and Assistant Superintendent for Public Instruction Elizabeth Schultz visited the SVHEC where they were given an up-close look at the Center’s successful hands-on training program for high school juniors and seniors.

During the visit, SVHEC executive director Dr. Betty Adams provided an overview of the CTA which provides hands-on training, high school and college credits, and industry recognized certifications to 11th and 12th grade students from Charlotte, Halifax, and Mecklenburg Counties. Students have an opportunity to pursue training in automation & robotics, energy systems technology, information technology, welding, and Work-Based Learning.

“Career Tech Academy is helping young people explore career opportunities and empowering their futures,” said Adams. “If you boil it all down, we’re really about workforce development, we’re about economic development, and for us here at the center, that means filling gaps in educational access.That really was the impetus for the Career Tech Academy.”

Representatives from AJ Transport and Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative addressed the group to share their experiences as CTA employer partners who provide internships for students in the Level 2 Work-Based Learning (WBL) course.

“They’re doing a wonderful job with this strong foundation of providing our community with students and our future,” said Jimmy Martin, fleet manager for AJ Transport.

Danielle Potter, HR Manager for Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and Empower Broadband shared a similar enthusiasm for the WBL program stating, “We are so excited to be working with a work-based program to get interns in [our workplace], and hopefully we can continue to do this every single year. I can’t wait to see what students we can get to come through.”

CTA’s Work-Based Learning (WBL) course is set up as a level 2 option that students may pursue after receiving training in a level 1 program. Through WBL, students are paired with regional businesses and work onsite as interns for three days a week. The rest of the week students attend class at SVHEC where they engage in job success training, gain employability skills, and pursue additional industry certifications.

Following program remarks, SVHEC staff led the state delegation to the CTA’s automation & robotics lab where they saw an equipment demonstration as CTA instructors shared how they integrate math, critical thinking, and problem solving into the curriculum. Whether it’s IT or robotics, students are receiving an integrated learning experience that empowers them for success in whatever path they choose after high school.

The event ended on a high note with a demonstration from CTA-automation & robotics student Kate Bishop. Bishop resides in Halifax County, and has established herself as an outstanding student in her first year of the program. She designed and 3D printed “fingers” that she attached to a robotic arm that she then programmed to play a tune on a keyboard. In addition, she designed and 3D printed a stand to keep the keyboard steady during the performance as even slight movement would disrupt the entire performance.

Bishop shared that while she’d always loved math and science, it wasn’t until the Career Tech Academy that she found her passion and the field she wants to pursue. Guidera, Spota, and Schultz all praised the SVHEC and the work being done through the Career Tech Academy.

“Keep telling the great story of what is happening here; It’s really inspiring,” said Sec. Guidera.