Hatteras teacher testifies about benefit of career and technological education


An 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 Curriculum.

“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 technological fields.

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 era.
“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like our parents and grandparents did, sitting in rows, scribbling notes by hand, and reading from textbooks that were out of date before the class ever started,” she said.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 beyond. 

“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 scholarship recipient.

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 off.”

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 committee. 

“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.



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