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County manager proclaims February as CTE Month

Feb 11, 2020

February has officially been proclaimed as Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month across Rockingham County.

On Monday, Feb. 10, local college, high school, county and industry leaders gathered with current and prospective apprentices at the Gerald James Library on the campus of Rockingham Community College, for County Manager Lance Metzler to sign the proclamation.

“In my opinion, (RockATOP) is one of the leading (apprenticeship) programs in the State of North Carolina.”

He congratulated the students for their commitment and dedication to their futures.

The Rockingham Apprenticeship and Technical Opportunities Partnership (RockATOP) allows students to work for a company under supervision while also working on a two-year associate degree at RCC, debt free. Students can transition from high school CTE courses to RCC courses while still in high school.

RCC President Dr. Mark Kinlaw said he appreciates the support of the RCC Board of Trustees, as well as the Rockingham County Commissioners, as the college and school system try to grow CTE in the county.

“I cannot express to you enough about the support and collaboration between the college and Rockingham County Schools. We have done quite a bit over the last couple of years,” he said.

“RockATOP is a great endeavor to grow career and technical education and open doors for our students to CTE pathways,” Kinlaw said. “We have to do more collectively to get more students involved in CTE fields because they are the ones most likely to stay in this region to live and to work.”

RCC continues to pursue opportunities for college transfer, as well.

Kinlaw said the passage of the quarter-cent sales tax by county citizens a few years ago sends all proceeds to RCC with one purpose: to promote workforce development.

“That’s all designed to open more doors for our students for opportunities, and also to serve our employers in the county,” he said.

One big investment of the tax proceeds is to promote advanced manufacturing and build a Center for Workforce Development, slated for a Spring 2023 opening.

Shortly after Kinlaw’s 2015 arrival to RCC, one building became a simulated hospital. “That promotes career and technical education in the health sciences,” he said. “We’re trying to do more to promote that because there are good jobs there.

Quarter-cent sales tax money was also used to renovate a computer lab in the Advanced Technologies building on campus, which promotes the Information Technology program. The college is also pursuing opportunities for its Business program.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to promote workforce development in our county, and of course we have to get students into our career and technical education fields,” Kinlaw said. “I’m excited about what we’re doing.”

Dr. Rodney Shotwell said he feels like Rockingham County Schools and Rockingham Community College can’t do anything without each other.

“We really do work well together. This is home for me; it’s the longest place I’ve ever lived in my entire life. To me, this is an investment we have,” said Shotwell, superintendent of Rockingham County Schools. “When we first talked about the apprenticeship program, I can’t tell you how excited I was, and to see if flourish and grow like it has is absolutely incredible. Now we have apprentices from all four of our traditional high schools participating this year. We’re really glad we were able to reach out across the entire county to bring students in here.”

Dr. Kenneth Scott, CTE director for Rockingham County Schools, reminded everyone that they were gathered not only to proclaim February as CTE Month, but for the start of four nights of a RockATOP invitational.

Along with the RockATOP Apprenticeship program, Scott unveiled three other routes under the RockATOP umbrella to help students on their way to successful careers.

RockATOP Career Express puts students to work in local businesses, while they also attend RCC for a credential. The company pays wages, and funds are often found through state and local programs to pay for the RCC tuition.

RockATOP Works puts students to work in local businesses, and they attend short job skills training at RCC. Scott said some companies don’t require their workers to have additional education; they just need workers who will show up, receive training, and work hard. “They are going straight from school into the workforce,” he said.

RockATOP Connect enables high school underclassmen to be introduced into the workforce through internships.

“There are enough opportunities for every young person in Rockingham County; we just need to work together as we’re doing, to find those opportunities,” Scott said.

He identified three new companies coming on board this year to take in RockATOP apprentices: Henniges Automotive, Culp, and Loparex. Rockingham County Schools is also taking on three apprentices. Other companies involved include ABCO Automation, Amcor, Bridgestone, Machine Specialties Inc., Pine Hall Brick, Wieland Copper Products, Ruger, and Smith-Carolina.

Following Metzler’s signing of the proclamation, current apprentices joined representatives from all those companies in the Industrial Technologies I building, for the annual RockATOP invitational. During the four-evening event, prospective apprentices from the high schools show off their skills on machinery as the company representatives look on, taking notes about which students they’d like to bring in as apprentices.

The chosen students will begin paid pre-apprenticeships in June. In August, each student selected as full apprentice will participate in an official signing ceremony with the company.

For more information on any of the RockATOP programs, visit www.rockatop.org.


Rockingham Community College
215 Wrenn Memorial Rd.
Wentworth, NC 27375


Monday to Thursday:
8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm


336-349-9986 (fax)