Education Matters in Catawba Valley Receives Partnership Award

Education Matters in Catawba Valley provides opportunities for students in Catawba County to participate in innovative and engaging experiences to learn about career options. By partnering with business, education, and government, Education Matters helps students gain awareness and understand the post-secondary education and training that is available to get jobs in the region.

“They have been able to form partnerships that we would never have had the time for in the public schools,” said Heather Mullins, chief academic officer for Newton-Conover City Schools. “They are doing important work in this community.”

For their work in developing partnerships, Education Matters in Catawba Valley has received the Outstanding Partnership Award from the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center. They were honored at the annual SMT Celebration in April in Raleigh, NC.

“For students interested in STEM careers, it’s important to have an engineer talk to a class about his career,” said Tracy Hall, executive director of Education Matters. “But to really understand the careers available students need to be able to experience what they do on a daily basis.”

Education Matters created the Extreme STEM Tours for middle school students to visit local businesses and experience STEM careers first hand. They also visit Catawba County Community College to learn about training programs and educational opportunities.   From the initial effort with Catawba County Schools, the Extreme STEM Tours in partnership with STEM West have expanded to seven school districts across the state, with more coming on board each year.

“The manufacturing industry has changed and there’s much more automation and technology involved,” said Hall. “For students to see, hear, and feel that work environment in person can be life changing.”

Education Matters in Catawba Valley is an initiative of Catawba Valley Community College and has been recognized as a best practice by the North Carolina Community College System.