NC District Launches Tech Center for 21st Century Learning

The Alamance-Burlington School System in North Carolina has launched its new Career and Technical Education Center, whose focus on technology and 21st-century skills aims to give students the assistance they need to succeed in today’s workplace.

The center currently has around 100 students and is intending to keep enrollment low while the system works out transportation issues and plans carefully to scale up its offerings, writes Mike Wilder at the Times-News.

Eventually, however, Principal Heather Blackmon wants to see the center accommodate up to 450 students.

The center has 13 classrooms fitted with wireless and smartboards, five labs, five conference rooms and a culinary arts kitchen.

At the moment students receive half a day of learning at the center. While there they study subjects like culinary arts, computer programming, health care and digital media. However, the center wants to expand its offerings by adding more scientific subjects like engineering in the near future.

The center is the first new school built by the local public schools since Cummings High School around forty years ago.

Tiffanie King teaches culinary arts at the center:

“We have one of the nicest facilities, bar none,” King said.

“I don’t think there’s another (public high school) in the state with this type of kitchen.”

Blackmon believes that the center should be used as a tool to round out students’ education beyond traditional subjects taught at school.

“My focus is students getting skills beyond what they can get in the traditional high schools. There’s a demand in our workforce for certain skills.”

This comes as IBM announces that they have partnered with the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York (CUNY) to open a technology college called “P-Tech” –  Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn.

Where traditional high schools finish at 12th year, the P-Tech college runs for two more years beyond that. Graduates will also then receive an associate’s degree from a nearby technical college.

Steve Kastenbaum at CNN reports that the school focuses on giving students a strong foundation in math the sciences. The school wants to qualify students for jobs in the tech industry when they graduate.

Principal of the school, Rashid Ferrod Davis, said:

“The goal is to say that a high school diploma is not enough.

“In order to be competitive, students definitely need to leave with job-readiness skills so that way they can really have a shot at middle- and high-income lifestyles.”