Hatteras teacher testifies about benefit of career and technological education
By AMBERLY DYER
old adage once advised, “Don’t throw the baby out with the
bath water.” It warns us to heed what is valuable when
changing anything in life.
On Jan. 8, Cindy Marks, a 23-year veteran of career and technical
education (CTE) at Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies,
and Caroline Jarvis, a 2007 graduate, explained to the North Carolina
General Assembly why CTE must remain in part of the curriculum in North
Carolina’s public schools.
The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee wanted to know how
CTE fits into the new graduation standards of the Future Ready Core
“They were curious and concerned about what was going on in career and technical education,” explains Marks.
Although unsure exactly how she was selected to testify, Marks believes
that Anne McArthur, currently the governor’s liaison for
education and former Cape Hatteras Schools employee, had something to
do with it.
Marks was also asked to bring a student with her. “It was
obvious that Caroline was the best choice,” she remarks.
Marks’ testimony reflects her beliefs that students of all career
paths and academic levels benefit from CTE. Students are blending
academic classes with real world applications in business and
She advised the legislators that CTE courses provide concrete
experiences in technology and career skills, such as business plan
development, design and construction of remote-operated vehicles,
marketing logistics, the impact of a global economy on the fashion
industry and such innovative computer applications as voice recognition
and privacy protection measures.
Most importantly, Marks assured the committee members that
today’s CTE is not the vocational education of the manufacturing
“These students are not are not spending their day in school like
our parents and grandparents did, sitting in rows, scribbling notes by
hand, and reading from textbooks that were out of date before the class
ever started,” she said. “[They] are actively engaged
in project-based learning, hands-on activities, collaboration,
team-decision making, and problem solving making use of the latest
innovations in technology.”
Marks pointed out to the committee and others that it is the immediate
relevance of CTE courses that engages students, excites their
interests, and improves their motivation in high school and
“In everything we do in CTE, students can see the relevance where they can’t in other courses,” she said.
Marks’ views were echoed by Caroline Jarvis, two-time sate DECA
(Distributive Educational Clubs of America) winner and a national DECA
Jarvis, now a freshman at East Carolina University, recounted her high
school experiences for the committee, commenting that during her first
marketing education course, she felt “as if a light bulb had gone
Despite being president of the student body, playing softball and
graduating fifth in her class, Jarvis stated that CTE along with DECA
competitions and experiences gave her the most confidence,
communication skills, and exciting opportunities. Based on her
first semester course work and recent judging at the regional DECA
competition in fashion merchandising, Caroline’s advisor at ECU
has encouraged her to apply for additional scholarship opportunities.
Jarvis closed her testimony reflectively.
“I often wonder what would have happened to me if Cape Hatteras
School did not offer marketing education or DECA, and I wonder how many
students lose their way because they never find their special
ability. I believe everyone has a special talent; they just have
to find it.”
Marks reports the committee was pleased. “There were lots of positive comments following our talks.”
Rebecca Payne, the Director of CTE at the North Carolina Department of
Instruction and Bill Downey, the president of L.A. Downey and Son, a
Durham-based construction company, also provided testimony to the
“It was a great experience,” reflects Marks. “I
am glad and honored that I was chosen to represent the 5,500-plus CTE
educators in North Carolina.”
Now, she’s back to the classroom for more projects and education gearing students for the future.