New Program to Offer 'Unprecedented Opportunities'

Larry Rogers, principal of the Career Academy and Technical School (CATS), called Wednesday “a day that we’ll never forget.”

CATS became the first high school in North Carolina to partner with Carolina CAT, the state’s supplier of Caterpillar equipment, signing a contract to develop a Heavy Equipment Technology (HET) course to be launched in 2013.

CAT pledged to donate $25,000 worth of curriculum and equipment to CATS. The school has designated a 22,000 square foot warehouse for the HET class.

“I think this serves as a goal that any school system wants to have,” said Dr. Paul Davis, chairman of the business advisory council for Mooresville-Graded School District. “You want to make education applicable and relevant.”

CAT currently sponsors similar programs at Central Piedmont Community College and Florence-Darlington Technical College. The HET course at CATS will teach students about the technology that supports all types of heavy equipment as well as offering a chance to actually use the equipment. CAT started the partner programs to help train service technicians for the company.

“We take this kind of thing very serious,” said Vic Morris, vice president of Carolina Tractor, CAT’s parent company. “Service technicians are the lifeblood of our company ... That’s what makes or breaks us.”

Morris assured school officials Wednesday that CAT would uphold its end of the bargain and made it clear he expected CATS to produce well-trained technicians.

“We look at our students as products and our businesses as our customers,” said CATS Instructor Martin Page. “We’re trying to give (businesses) a good product.”

Steve Johnson, chairman of the Iredell County Board of Commissioners, said the HET program was “another step in a great effort.”

“I’ve been a commissioner for 18 years and this is one of my proudest achievements — being a part of this school (CATS),” said Steve Johnson, chairman of the Iredell County Board of Commissioners. “I think CAT is right to put their faith in this school system.”

I-SS Superintendent Brady Johnson said there would be about 30 slots available for the entry HET course when it opened up halfway through next school year.

“This will give kids unprecedented opportunities in apprenticeships,” said I-SS Superintendent Brady Johnson. “It will open doors for them. We’re very excited to be bringing it to the community.”

The curriculum that CAT is providing to help CATS instructors teach the course is very broad-based, said Jim Malloy, manager of employee development for Carolina CAT, and will prepare students for several entry-level technical jobs.

“That’s what technical education should be about — making sure that children are job-ready and can advance in their studies,” said Rogers. “We offer both.”

CAT employees weren’t the only ones getting a tour of CATS’ facilities after the contract was signed. Along to view the school as well was Justen John, education director for ARP mission schools in Pakistan. John is currently on a six-week trip to visit American schools to pick up tips to start a technical high school back home.

“Everyone hasn’t got the opportunity to go on to higher education,” said John. “It’s good to learn some (trade) skills so they can earn for a living.”

Source: By Preston Spencer - http://www2.statesville.com/news/2012/jun/07/new-program-offer-unprecedented-opportunities-ar-2339897/

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