Former Franklin High School principal Gary Shields introduced Colleen Strickland, the
Principal in charge of Macon County Schools’ CTE program, which became a requirement by the N.C. Board of Education.

Mr. Shields shared that Colleen was the first member of her family to graduate with a high school diploma as well as a college degree. She has more than 25 years of experience in education. She was charged with starting the Career and Technical Education program in 2020 during the COVID crisis, so the program got a slow start but has increased steadily since.

The program offers students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and prepare for successful careers in high-demand industries.
Ms. Strickland presented a slide show outlining the CTE program that was designed to provide Macon County students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing job market. The program offers a wide range of courses, including
agriculture, business, welding, automotive, construction, food and nutrition, early childhood development, computer science (auto-cad), aviation and in healthcare careers.

In 2021 and 2022 there were 8 pathways; in 2023 the number of pathways increased to 15 and additional ones are planned for 2024. In addition to the hands-on experience, Ms. Strickland explained that the CTE program also provides students with the opportunity to earn college credits and certifications that are recognized by employers. Examples were healthcare professional CNA, CCMA and EMT. This helps students save money on their future education, but also provides them with a
competitive edge in the job market. The Macon County Schools CTE program and Ms. Strickland have earned statewide recognition.