Opportunity awaits

Published 5:19 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2021

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CREEKSVILLE – It’s been several years since the footsteps of students echoed up and down the halls of the former Northampton County High School East campus in Creeksville.

But they’ll return in January for the opening of classes at the newly renamed Northampton Career and Technical Academy of Innovation (NCTAI). An official ribbon cutting ceremony and open house was held on Nov. 18 for the community to see what the renovated space will offer for students.

An open house held last week on the new campus of the Northampton Career and Technical Academy of Innovation attracted a large crowd to view the progress made on renovating the former home of Northampton County High School East. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

“This is a source of pride for the community. This is a source of pride for our students,” said Northampton Schools Superintendent Dr. Pamela Chamblee as she greeted those in attendance at the event last week.

As previously reported by the News Herald, NCTAI is an extension of the district’s CTE (career and technical education) program, giving students a wider variety of career options to specialize in before they graduate. Those career “pathways” include early childhood education, computer digital design, nurse aid, EMT, cosmetology, and much more.

Dr. Chamblee said it’s their goal to have the students walk across the graduation stage with a diploma in one hand and credentials in the other.

“When the students leave this building, they will be equipped with what they need,” added Rhonda Taylor, chair of the county school board. “Today is a wonderful day, and it’s a positive for Northampton County.”

Geneva Faulkner, a county commissioner who also serves as the school district’s Executive Director for Curriculum and Instruction, expressed her excitement for the new program and acknowledged the hard work it took to get to this point.

“I’m proud of my team. I’m proud of the work that they’ve put in and the thought that went in behind this,” she said. “As a student, I walked through these halls and I’m excited to see the possibilities.”

“It’s going to mean a lot for our families and our entire community,” Faulkner concluded, touching on the world of opportunities that will soon be available for student participants.

NCTAI is not solely a Northampton Schools project, but also a partnership with Roanoke Chowan Community College (RCCC) which will provide instruction for some of the courses offered.

RCCC Vice President of Instruction Dr. Jami Woods recalled visiting the NCTAI campus earlier this year not long after she first took her position with the community college. The construction work, she said, was a visible representation of the progress so far, but a lot has been going on behind the scenes as well to get ready for the students.

“We are united in a vision that will give students the skills they need, the education they need to have economic mobility, and to contribute positively to their community when they do graduate,” Woods said. “So Roanoke Chowan is excited to be a partner in that.”

RCCC President Dr. Murray Williams echoed similar sentiments in her remarks.

“I firmly believe that if we put students first, everything else will come together,” she said. “Dr. Chamblee, thank you so much for inviting us to take part in what you are doing here in Northampton County.”

“What you’re seeing here tonight is only the beginning,” Williams continued.

Following the official ribbon cutting, those in attendance toured the classrooms that are ready and waiting for students. Most rooms are specialized for their specific “pathway” course, such as training equipment in the EMT classroom and barber chairs in the cosmetology classroom.

NCTAI Director Dr. Amy Draper reported that over 120 students are interested in registering so far, and most of the programs will be ready to begin in January when students return for the spring semester.

A few courses, such as culinary arts and welding, won’t be able to be offered at the Creeksville campus until next fall. The building which will house those classes is still undergoing renovations, including an upcoming roof replacement.

But Draper, a longtime CTE instructor with Northampton Schools, remained just as thrilled for the future of the new school as everyone else in attendance.

“I’m overwhelmed at the opportunities we have for our kids,” she said. “The wonderful thing about this academy is that the students will have the opportunity to change their lives.”