State superintendent says Davie’s career program should be a model

Published 6:52 am Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

Davie County Schools welcomed State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt to Davie County High School last week to talk with students and teachers, observe the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, and experience firsthand all the school has to offer.

Truitt, who took office in January 2021, has toured dozens of schools across the state as she focuses on improving public schools, expanding innovation, and creating new opportunities for students to learn, grow, and transition into the post-secondary plans of their choice.

When Davie Schools Superintendent Jeff Wallace invited her to visit Davie County, she jumped at the chance.

“I’ve been impressed with Davie County Schools dating back to when Jeff Wallace was the assistant superintendent. When he invited me as superintendent, I immediately said yes.

“I’ve always admired Davie County’s commitment to innovation and to ensuring that all kids have unique and engaging opportunities to learn,” Truitt said. “It’s clear that Davie County High School is, first and foremost, interested in supporting their students.”

Truitt was joined by Julie Pittman, special advisor for teacher engagement and former western regional teacher of the year.

They began their visit by talking with students. A panel of sophomores and juniors shared their educational experiences during and post-COVID closures and talked about the value of CTE classes and their career goals.

“It was clear that the students view this high school as a small community and feel connected to all their teachers. When students are quick to share high praise in their teachers and school environment, you know it’s going to be an awesome visit and a special place,” said Truitt.

Following the discussion with students, Truitt and Pittman, along with N.C. Rep. Julia Howard and County Manager Brian Barnett, took a tour of the facility, focusing on the CTE building.

The group stopped by the mechatronics classroom, a STEM English class, and the Soaring Eagles classroom,  before heading to the CTE building where they observed the masonry lab, auto shop, carpentry shop, ag mechanics shop, and the sheep barn.

DCHS Principal Michael Pruitt explained that ag students would be showing the sheep at the fair and expressed his pride in the way that students took responsibility for caring for the school’s animals, even on the weekends.

Having visited CTE programs across the state, Truitt said Davie had one of the best, most comprehensive programs.       

“I’ve seen really impressive CTE programs across the state, but after seeing Davie County High’s program in person, I’m a firm believer that they should be a model for career and technical education across the state. The wide variety of options they provide to students, from auto repair to ag mechanics, is incredible as there is truly something for everyone. It’s exactly the type of hands-on and work-based learning opportunities I am hopeful that all North Carolina students have the chance to experience before graduating and entering the real world.

“Something that was really unique to Davie High was the masonry lab. In my travels to schools, I’ve not seen this before and it was really unique to see the students learn how to lay brick. I’d be remiss if I left out the sheep – they were really cute,” she added.

Following the building tour, Truitt, Pittman, and Howard returned to the library to meet with teachers.

“We requested to meet with teachers so we could answer their questions about a new proposed model that would change the way we license and compensate teachers,” said Truitt. “The teachers asked really thoughtful questions. While it’s natural for any teacher to want to know where they would fit into a new scenario, they were very excited about how this plan could increase compensation overall.”

Wallace considered the visit a success.

“We are very grateful Superintendent Truitt would visit Davie County Schools; moreover, we appreciate her genuine interest in hearing from students and teachers.  Superintendent Truitt spent over an hour speaking with each group to discuss important topics. We also appreciate Rep. Julia Howard and County Manager Brian Barnett joining the tour.  Davie County is so fortunate to have engaged leaders who genuinely care about education.”