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CoastLine: How the Career / Technical Education pathway is leaving behind the Vo-Tech Model

Cape Fear Community College
Map of the North Campus at Cape Fear Community College. The CTE High School is planned for a plot of land just inside the entrance of the campus. The building would house classrooms. Existing tech facilities would be open to h.s. students.

Those in high school years years ago might remember shop class or home economics as assignments for students deemed unable to cut it academically. 

Today, non-traditional educational and career pathways have evolved and the vocational pathway is redefining itself.  Such a pipeline for what, in some cases, is a highly-specialized work force could become a critical part of the local economy, a draw for businesses, and a well-respected route to a vocation that, in many cases, results in high-paying, high-demand jobs. 

New Hanover County’s Public School System is partnering with Cape Fear Community College and Pender County Schools to create the state’s first regional career technical high school. 


Ann David, Member of Cape Fear Community College's Board of Trustees, CFCC Representative on CTE High School Planning Board

Dr. Tim Markley, Superintendent, New Hanover County Public Schools

Laverne Pickett, Supervisor, Career and Technical Education for New Hanover County Public Schools


RLH: Superintendent Tim Markley, tell us about this new CTE high school. What’s it intended to do, and how is it different from the area’s existing high school offerings?

TM: Well, this is something that’s been in conversation for a long time, going back even before I got here, the need for some kind of vocational training, and we do a lot of that at our traditional high schools. But we wanted to create something that was different. We wanted a school that you went to, and when you left, you not only had a high school diploma, you had an industry credential. It could be a certificate. It could be a two-year associates degree in a particular area. The partnership with CFCC was obvious partnership. They have the trained staff to teach some of these courses, and we have the skills to provide the educational piece for the high school component. So putting those together, we want every student who walks out of this school to have two pieces of paper in his hand: a high school diploma and some kind of industry credential.

RLH: How would the school system and the student and the parent decide whether the student should stay in the current, traditional high school and take CTE classes or actually go into this potential new facility that might be located on CFCC’s North Campus?

LP: What we’ll need to look at is some advisement with the student to determine student interest and to find out what courses are available at the school that center around that interest. If the student has already accessed those courses or has not yet begun those courses, looking at what would be offered at that traditional high school and then transitioning into the career technical high school for other areas that are not offered at the traditional high school. So, it’s an expansion of options for students. So, we’re not just limiting what’s available at their traditional school. So, if there are programs that are not offered at the traditional school, then we’re saying, our CTE high school has other options that we need to look at. So that’s what we would need to explore.

RLH: And at what point in a student’s high school career could he or she make the decision to go into this new CTE high school?

TM: We envision two entry points. You could be an eighth grader, and you know that you want to go on that track, so you would go to the vocational school in the ninth grade year, do your high school work and some career exploration. But you could have gone to traditional high school as a sophomore or a junior, and maybe you thought you were going to be a doctor in eighth grade, but you realized at some point, “That’s not really where I want to go. I want to do veterinary tech, and so then you would transfer out of your local high school to the vocational high school. So it would have multiple entry points. And we would design that curriculum then for somebody coming in from the traditional school to be very specific: complete the high school requirements and then complete the requirements for that industry area that you’ve identified that you want to go into.

RLH: Eighth grade, how old is that?

TM: 13, 14.

RLH: Can a 13- or 14-year-old make that kind of a decision? What do you say to parents who are concerned about where a student is in his or her development? What if we’re talking about a student who is just having some trouble in school, having trouble academically? Is it possible that this kid is at-risk then for just getting shunted off into this nontraditional pathway because it’s not working academically?

TM: You’d be surprised. We have students who are, at that age, enrolling into our two early colleges, one which is located at the community college and one that’s located at UNCW. So, these kids are focused in terms of where they want to go. If you do come in as an eighth grader and start as a ninth grader, that first year is about exploration. These credits still have the potential to be transferrable to a four-year college.

RLH: Ann David, where might this high school be located?  

AD: As you mentioned, we’re looking at a site on the North Campus. Just as you come in the entrance to the campus, there’s a plot of land there that’s designated for classrooms. That’s where the classroom portion of these students’ education will take place. The beauty of this is hat we have on site all the technical classes and labs already set up.

RLH: CFCC already has these facilities.

AD: Yes. And if the public school system had to create that from the ground up, not only the classroom space but the lab space, the cost would be astronomical. It seems to be the most logical situation for it to be located there, with the lab space very close by when the students are ready to make that selection, to move into whatever area interests them.

RLH: And at this point then, if we’re just talking about building a facility that would house classrooms, what kind of a cost?

TM: We have an estimate of somewhere around eleven, twelve million dollars. Compared to building a school from scratch, that could be thirty, forty, fifty million at the high end.

RLH: Where might that funding come from?

TM: That’s one of the things we’re looking at. Obviously, we would love to have some help from the state, we would talk to our local folks, but that’s one of those areas where the discussion piece is still going forward.

RLH: How will this be staffed? Will this create new jobs within the New Hanover County school system or for CFCC or Pender County? How will that work?  

TM: School allotments on the public side, basically you get an allotment of teachers for the students. So if the students come to us, it’s not requiring us to add additional positions. It’s simply, the positions will shift to follow the students over to there. The community college is funded on what’s called FTEs, full-time teacher equivalents. So they would work into that model.

RLH: Can you explain FTEs?

TM: Full-time teacher equivalent. So, for every X number of students, they get a teacher for that particular class.

RLH: And when is this projected to open? What kind of a time frame?

LP: We’re looking at a time frame of the beginning 2017-2018 school year.

RLH: So September of next year, potentially—

LP: August.

RLH: August of next year. So, you’re talking about looking for funding at this point, that sounds like a really fast time frame. How can you find twelve million dollars and build a school in about a year?

AD: That is a difficult question, and that’s why we’re working together on that, both CFCC and the school system. It’s going to take multiple sources because we can’t just draw it all out of a hat from one spot.

TM: It may be a case where you take some interim steps before you get to a new building, where you have to use some existing space and make some other accommodations, and we’re exploring those at this point. We think the concept is one that needs to happen, and so we’re going to work to make it happen.

RLH: And what would some of those interim steps be?

TM: Not quite ready to go there yet. Let’s look at the main funding piece first and then we can look at some other pieces.

RLH: We have an email from someone who writes, “Will these kids still be required to take four years of math, four years of English, government, civics, and two years of science?”

TM: Yes, the high school requirements don’t go away. To graduate in New Hanover County, it’s 28 credits, but to graduate in North Carolina, the minimum number is currently 21, 22 credits. So you have to meet your state requirements, but your electives become centered around meeting the vocational side of the house. So you’re going to graduate with the same requirements that every student in North Carolina does, but we’re going to focus your elective time into these vocational areas.

RLH: Ann David, can you tell us some of the careers that kids might go into?

AD: Typically, the misconception is that the only thing that is offered on the high school level for a career technical education are the typical ones: automotive, plumbing, electrical, cosmetology, any type of home economics, culinary arts, but in this day and time, so many of the career paths are highly technical and are ever-changing, where they have to be modified, as Laverne was saying, on a yearly basis. That is what we’re looking at, and a lot of our students are very focused and have an idea as to where they want to go. One of the most demanding technical educations right now is cardiovascular sonography, which is very technical from the sound of it, and that’s just an example of some of the many different pathways that we’re looking at.

RLH: And you’re saying there’s an immediate demand for people who get that type of credential?

AD: Absolutely, and that’s just one example. There are many more similar to that.  

RLH: Ann David, you were talking about some of the potential pathways that students might take that involve some of the more highly-specialized, highly-technical and potentially better-paying jobs. Can you talk about some of the companies that are located within the Cape Fear region who would be looking for these students?

AD: One of the certifications we offer is computer-integrated machining, which is primarily rooted in GE. That program is staffing them and would offer the high school students a wonderful opportunity to have in-roads into that. Also, CFCC is one of two community college in the state that does training for Duke Energy Progress, and that is the nuclear technology certification. There’s one in the western part of the state, and then CFCC handles it in the east part of the state. So you can see that, if someone wanted to offer that area, they have very few choices as to where to receive their training. It offers these high school students a wonderful opportunity. So those are two of our major training programs for these students. Also, the college is going to be opening up their veterinary technical program soon, and it is already a huge success. For students that are very interested in going into veterinary medicine, they may not want to become a veterinarian themselves, but it offers that option on a much faster route.

Matthew (CALLER): I am a current CFCC dental hygiene student right now, and it was explained to me by my mother that in the past, in the 1960s and 1970s, we used to have vocational training in high schools. There was college-bound, there was vocational training, and then there was the home economics stuff. But then they kind of went away, so my question is, has something changed? Has the environment changed that has allowed students to get away from just the everyone’s-got-to-prep-for-college to this more specific, “Hey, you know, college is fine, but we’d like to try to encourage people to do this”? Has something changed?

RLH: So you’re asking about the philosophy behind this and the potential demand.

Matthew (CALLER): I guess the philosophy, but also just the economics. I don’t know what happened to the vocational training in this country, but I do know that it went away.

LP: Basically, to answer your question, the vocational programs never went away. They were very much in existence. What exists now is a reshaping of vocational programs to define them into clearly defined pathways and clusters of jobs that they prepare students for. Also, the integration of technology throughout all of the curriculums. When you look at all of the career technical programs, they’re heavily imbedded with technical skills. So if you go into a school building right now, you’ll see engineering programs, and most people don’t equate that to being vocational, but our training looks very different from what it used to be many years ago, but it has never gone away. It’s been redefined into clear pathways and clusters to prepare students for the workforce of today and what’s to come. Many of the jobs don’t even exist that they’re preparing for.

Randy (CALLER): I’m basically interested in the offerings of the CTE program. We have an immediate demand in our company, and where our company was originally from, where we’re based, we participate in intern programs with local colleges and schools, high schools. We were wondering if the CTE program when it starts here, would it offer the same intern opportunities that we might be able to participate in?

TM: In our traditional high schools, we have senior projects. What we want to do at our vocational high school is reshape that senior project into a work-based experience, be it an internship or some job shadowing. We think this is a great partnership. Randy, if you send us your information, when we get to that point, there are some companies we would love to partner with.

RLH: How would this curriculum change? We’ve talked about the fact that this is going to be designed to meet the needs of the business community now. But how can it be nimble enough to change quickly enough to actually meet those needs?

LP: By us individualizing what we prepare the students for. We look at the students as individuals. We will align what’s appropriate for that student based on that individual need. We are talking about a very, very in-depth process of preparing these students for career planning from beginning to end. So we would look at individual students, what would be required to prepare those students, and on our end, what steps they need to take in order to get to that end point of preparation for that job that they are seeking?

RLH: How often would the school system or the community college or both do an assessment of the needs in the business community and then change the curriculum accordingly?

AD: CFCC regularly adjusts their programing on campus to meet the needs of incoming businesses and also just the job base within the area. So that is done annually and looked at to change what is going on and to be sure that we stay right in front of what is needed by the students that want to come to CFCC for their certification. So it would dovetail completely into the CTE high school because we would stay ahead of that game.

RLH: And how does CFCC conduct such an assessment? What’s the process? Where do you get your information?

AD: They speak directly to the businesses that are here. So many of the companies come to CFCC when they decide to locate here and say, you know, “What are your training possibilities?” We need to constantly have our workers stay up with technology because as we all know, technology seems to change weekly. So that is a primary objective of many of the corporations moving to this area. So what’s where a lot of it is driven from, and then they reach out to there to the communities just outside of us, as far as state and national trends, just to stay on top of what is needed. They also look at the numbers of students that are trying to get a certain certification to see where the interest lies. Right now, there’s a 98% placement rate for graduates so CFCC wants to stay in that sweet spot, to know that the graduates from the program have jobs out there. They’re not just getting a certification and going out into a job market to wait tables instead of do what they really wanted to do to begin with. So those types of things are looked at very seriously to make sure that we stay in stride with the job market and not, you know, send out a glut or have a shortfall.

RLH: And Laverne Pickett, you say that you can actually redirect your programming mid-year, if you need to?  

LP: Our changes for our curriculum are state-driven, and the feedback that we receive is based on industry input, so yes. Our curriculum and our funding is based on making sure our curriculums are directed based on state standards.

RLH: Tim Markley, what will the role of Pender county schools be in this, in terms of funding and planning?

TM: When you look at the community college, they are assigned certain service areas, and for Cape Fear Community College, their service area is New Hanover County and Pender County. The location of the North Campus is a natural border to Pender County. So, they’ve had a strong interest in vocational educations, so we think they’re an excellent partner to work with in creating this school.

RLH: I know you’re working on the funding piece. Have you put out proposals about percentages, how much might come from Pender County?

TM: What happens in education is that the dollars tend to follow the students to that school, so there’s a per-pupil from the state and the county, so those dollars would follow those students to that school, so the funding would be the number of students on a per-pupil basis.

RLH: How many students would go into this school?

TM: We think, when it’s fully up and running, 400 students.

RLH: What impact might that have on the CFCC student population or the rest of New Hanover County public schools?

TM: If it’s 400 students, it’ll help reduce some of the overcrowding. With Cape Fear Community College, their enrollment is in the multi-thousands, so 400 students is not a huge impact in terms of their total student population.

RLH: This is a high school in terms of ninth through twelfth grade. Is there any safety or security concern if you’re talking about a 14-year-old girl on a campus where there are going to be 20-year-old males every single day. That’s not something that you have to think about when you’re sending your child to a traditional high school. Is this an issue that’s been raised?

TM: Most of the freshman year and a good chuck of the sophomore year is spent taking high school courses, so they’re still going to be located in that one area. But I’m telling you, we do this already at early college. We’ve got ninth graders on UNCW’s campus and on CFCC’s campus. We have students from our traditional high schools who are taking dual enroll courses already on CFCC and UNCW’s campus. So this is an issue that both institutions have been dealing with, and we have good procedures in place. It’s something that our administrators watch very closely. We’ve been very fortunate that there hasn’t truly been an issue with that integration. Sometimes the professor can’t tell which one is the high school student and which one is the college student.

RLH: Yes, but there is a big difference between a fourteen-year-old and a twenty-three-year old.

TM: Yes, and like I said, currently, with our programs that are located on college campuses, the school administrators watch that very closely. If you’re a community college kid, you go to class, and you go home. If you’re a high school kid, you’re checking in in the morning with that high school program and then checking in during the day, and you may be riding a bus home that afternoon. So there’s a level of supervision for the high school student that’s not there for the adult student.

RLH: So if I’m a student in this new CTE high school, is it possible that part of my day will be spent in the traditional classroom in that high school and then part of my day will also be spent in a lab, say, with college students.

TM: Potentially, especially as you move up into your junior or senior year, and that’s what we’ve seen now with students in the early college.  

Tom (CALLER): I’m currently in the CTE program with the Brunswick County schools. I’m very excited and happy for the children. I just was curious why New Hanover County is just getting a program started. Ours has been in place for some time now, and some of the surrounding counties have a successful program. I guess I’m just surprised to hear that New Hanover County is just getting their program underway.

TM: We’ve been doing CTE at our high schools – it’s not something that’s not happened. If you go to some of our schools, there’s automotive. If you go to some of our schools, there’s horticulture. What makes this different is the partnership with the community college and the fact that we’re doing it on site and using community college professors because if you take a course at a high school, you get the high school credit, but by doing it at the community college, not only do you get a high school credit, but you get a dual credit for the community college credit, and it’s going to lead to an industry certification, which is not something you can get through a traditional high school CTE program.

RLH: I said at the beginning of the show that this could become a model for the state. Can you explain why this might create a new paradigm for partnerships between public school systems and community colleges?

TM: It builds on some practices that are in place and puts in a process for those students to have those options to walk out of high school with those two pieces of paper that lead to some of the jobs that Ann talked about, where a high school student can walk out and be making more than, in some cases, a first-year teacher. There are some incredible job opportunities in this area, and when you look at the college rate in this county, about 35% of the folks have a four-year degree. So what are those other 70% doing?

RLH: You’re talking about the general population?

TM: Yes. So, we think there’s a tremendous opportunity to give our students the chance to pick up some additional skills. And this doesn’t preclude them from going on to a four-year college. A lot of these credits that you take at the community college are directly transferable to college. So you may decide this is your first step. It may develop an interest. If you decide veterinary tech is something you like and you get into that and you want to take the next step, you can take those credits and hopefully transfer them into a four-year college down the road. What makes this unique is it’s a three-way partnership with Pender, us, community college, and the fact that we’re offering not only the high school diploma but the industry credential as well.

AD: I do think the difference with other counties that do similar career tech programs, and I understand that high school students do take community college classes their junior and senior year, we’re bringing it all under one roof by having the on-campus site. It centralizes the program instead of having them come and go from their high school to Cape Fear. It’s just more of a unique high school situation.

LP: And it also expands many more options for students than we are currently able to offer through our traditional program. 

RLH: In talking with folks around the community about the potential for this project and what it could create, I’ve heard some concerns and one concern that was raised was holding up the Rachel Freeman School of Engineering as an example of a place that started out with high aspirations. It has since become one of the lower performing schools in the New Hanover County school system. It has a 55% teacher-turnover rate, I think that was the last measurement. And of course, there’s a plan now within the school system for upping the performance of some of these lower performing schools, but how would this be different? How do we know this wouldn’t just become a place for students who can’t perform in the traditional academic setting?

TM: It becomes part of the enrollment process. When you look at vocational education or CTE, in many cases, it’s as rigorous or more rigorous than some of the four-year academic programs. There’s a Lexile reading scale, and it talks about the readability of certain pieces. When you start getting into reading blueprints, reading technical manuals, they’re often at a much higher lexile level than traditional literature passages that a student might read. The math for a technical piece is oftentimes more complex, when you’re talking about measuring things in microns if you’re in a machining class. Those skills are not easy. As we’ve said from day one, this is not a school to go to because you can’t cut it in your regular school. This is a school to go to because you have a desire for a particular career path, and you’re going to be focused on doing that. If you have an attendance problem, this is not the place to be transferring to because you’re not making it at your regular school. You’ve got to have a certain amount of independence, especially if you do this as a transfer program. If you’re coming in as a sophomore, you’re saying, “I’m coming in, and I want to be a vet tech. I’ve got to go on to this path.” We’re going to do some career assessments along the way to see if you have the prerequisite skills to be able to do those pieces. Since you’re going to have a certain degree of independence and flexibility since you’re on the campus, you have to have the maturity that goes with that. That’s part of that enrollment process.

AD: The generation we are having now that is approaching selecting a career is starting much earlier than most of us ever considered a career. I mean, even in a middle school age, they know what their talents are and what their desires are. They’re starting to think long-term. As far as CFCC goes, I think we consider this the same as the Wilmington early college, which offers the students who are looking for the four-year education to advance themselves at their own pace to move towards their four-year degree. The CTE high school offers that same opportunity for students who already have that idea for where they want to go and what they want to do with their lives. It allows them also to advance that as quickly as possible, so when they graduate, they’re ready to go, and they don’t need to bear the expense of going back to community college and obtaining that. They can jump right into the job market and get on to the job that they’ve sought to achieve.

RLH: For a child who is very clear about his or her pathway, this is a money-saving prospect for that child because they won’t have to pay for it once they get out of high school. But Laverne Pickett, what would you say to a child who, perhaps at fourteen says, “I know this is my career track,” and then by fifteen says, “Oh, maybe not. Maybe I want to do something else.” Can the child change his or her mind or do something else?

LP: There’s still some flexibility for that student to change their mind. It’s about exposure, that’s what we want to do early on because we find that once students make connections and they see the relevance of academic courses that they’re taking, we have data that shows – we collect data the first year after graduation with our students – and our graduation rate for students that get it, that have their mind made up, they do a four-course concentration in career technical programs, 96.5% of them graduate. We have data that shows they stay in school because even if they don’t do a concentration and they have that exposure in career and technical education, many of them, the feedback that they received, they stayed in school because of the technical programs that they were in, they were connected, they saw the relevance of those math and those language-skills, and they get it. So, from that data, 92% of them graduate on time with their cohort group.

RLH: So, for some kids, suddenly education doesn’t seem so abstract.

LP: Exactly.

AD: An important piece too is students are seeing that the end result, the pay that they’re looking at, not only are they entering a career that interests them, but it’s a pay scale that some of these students may have never considered.

RLH: Can you give me some numbers?

AD: For instance, I mentioned the cardiovascular sonography. Anywhere in the state of North Carolina, the annual salary is 63,000, which is a lot of money for an annual salary for a student to consider with a certification. Just locally, I have some hourly rates. Construction management technology, which is huge because it seems like something is being built on every street corner, we’re looking at jobs that are 26 dollars an hour. That expands also into marine technology, which is unique to this area and very much needed. Those continue. The nuclear technology is 27 dollars an hour. They’re all very sound jobs for students to consider. And those are just some unusual ones, not even talking about vet tech or the dental assistant program, those are also very well-paying jobs, and when students consider those kinds of salaries, it’s very intriguing to be able to launch that job path at an earlier time.

Joann (CALLER): In most of the high schools here, there’s only 20-30% who actually are on the college path, and the rest of the students are not. Couldn’t we have a building that’s already existing by taking some of the students and put them in a building that already exists without spending all this money to have a new building?

TM: Couple of things there. One, you’d have to equip any building with the lab space for a vocational school. One of the things that makes this attractive cost-wise is CFCC already has these fully-functioning labs for a lot of these particular programs, so you’re not recreating those. Wake County opened up a vocational school. They converted an old Coke plant. They had to buy the property. They had to then upfit the school for a vocational school, which turned that into an almost forty million dollar project. The other piece of that is then finding instructors for some of these programs, and you’ve got these instructors already at the community college. So it’s a natural partnership in terms of saving dollars. It’s also a huge economic piece for businesses. When companies come looking for places to locate, they look at your transportation system; we have a great port system, we’ve got a great rail system into town. But they also want to look at the educational piece – where are their workers coming from? If we’re in the partnership with the community college, I think that gives us a huge leg up in terms of economics. So, converting an existing building to a full vocational school really isn’t a cost saver, and then there’s the issue of finding instructors.

Chad (EMAIL): I’d just like to say that I believe the CTE would be a strong benefit to our region and state. I attended a CTE in Louisiana, and my experience there steered me in a career direction that I have followed ever since graduation. I'm proud to say I’ve been working for over 12 years in a field which I took CTE classes for, and to add to that, my current job is one of the best I’ve had with a great employer.

TM: Thanks for the endorsement.

RLH: Ann David, you’ve mentioned veterinary technology multiple times now. Can we get to that as part of what CFCC is doing -- when that program might open, where is in progress, and why is it in such high demand?

AD: We have an obsession, so to speak, with our animals more than we’ve ever seen, and I think that’s a huge part. Everywhere you see commercials dealing with animals and our love for them. Veterinary medicine is in high demand by the public in general. Likewise, veterinarians need a highly skilled workforce because the medicine for animals is just as technical as the medicine for humans. We’re in the process of building the facility for that. They have opened up the applications for it. From my understanding, it is full and could be full for quite a while. Constantly, they have daily calls about getting into that program. I think it’s going to be in high demand for years to come and will be a very successful program for CFCC.

RLH: How many slots are available?

AD: I am not exactly sure.

RLH: When is the building slated to be finished?

AD: I believe it’s going to be next year.

RLH: We talked about some of the other vocational career pathways that will become high-need areas over time. Laverne Pickett, I think you spoke with our producer that might be in development or that might be on your radar but we don’t have in place yet – I’m thinking of homeland security.  Can you talk about that?

LP: When we talked about career clusters, the question was, “Are there any career clusters that we currently don’t offer programs in?” And that was one that came to mind because in our traditional schools, we don’t have anything related to homeland security, and that’s an area that’s in high demand. We offer criminal justice, those kinds of things, fire fighting and law enforcement kinds of courses, but specific to that particular area, that’s a career cluster that we don’t have high school curriculum for.

RLH: You say it’s in high demand. In this region specifically?

AD: Actually, CFCC is creating a curriculum for that, coming out in 2017-2018. It’s called emergency management. It deals with the crisis situations that we could be confronted with just in the world atmosphere as it is. That is an up-and-coming field. CFCC will be offering that as a certification, which deals quite a bit with homeland security.

RLH: How would that be different from law enforcement training?

AD: It targets more on situations that when a crisis comes, either through terrorism or natural disaster, with a high rate of casualties, it instructs the students seeking certification on how to handle those situations. And I’m sure there are many divisions within that certification, but it comes under the umbrella of emergency management.

RLH: What are some of the biggest misconceptions that you’d like to dispel?

TM: One is that we’re not doing vocational education now. We are doing vocational educational in all of our traditional schools, and it is varied from horticulture to computer to automotive tech. That’s one of those huge misconceptions, that we did away with vocational education. It’s something we’ve always been doing, but we think this is the next logical step in terms of taking it beyond the high school piece, to actually provide our students with the industry credential that they can take out into the workforce. One of the others is that vocational education is only about hands-on trades. There’s a high tech aspect to a lot of what we’ve done.

RLH: Why is that belief so entrenched?

TM: I think it’s everybody’s shop class. Everybody went to high school and had sewing, cooking, metalwork, and woodwork.

RLH: Final question about the funding, when do you think you’ll know, and when will you break ground on this facility?

TM: Even if the dollars showed up tomorrow, you’re still probably two years from a building being done, so it’s going to be a process over the next year, but we are working on plans to make this happen before, if we have to, before that building gets built. But I’ve got faith in the community. 

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.