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NEW SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT:
SEA-Tech Set to Explore New Opportunities With Inaugural Class
SEA-Tech Logo
Explore . Empower . Contribute

Dr. Skipper greets a group of new SEA-Tech students
Dr. Skipper greets a group of new SEA-Tech students
with a warm smile and her infectious enthusiasm.

Steady at the helm, Dr. Edith Skipper is ready to embark on a new voyage as the principal of New Hanover County School’s latest initiative - the Southeast Area Technical High School, known as SEA-Tech. Before coming to NHCS, Dr. Skipper served as principal of Pender Early College High School and led that school to great success. The district is confident about the future of the new school under Dr. Skipper’s leadership.

“We are so excited to welcome these students to SEA-Tech on Monday,” Dr. Skipper said recently, adding “We’re looking forward to great first year!”

Plans to bring a new technical high school to the area began in the spring of 2015, when the New Hanover County Board of Education answered a request from the community. NHCS approached Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) and since CFCC serves both New Hanover and Pender counties, a partnership was also established with Pender County Schools. SEA-Tech was the result of this collaboration.

The Executive Committee charged with developing the plan included Eddie Anderson, Julie Askew, Dr. Terri Cobb, Chris Coudriet, Ann David, Lisa Estep, Dr. Amanda Lee, Dr. Tim Markley, Mary Mortensen, Al O'Briant, Bruce Shell, Shemeka Shufford, Melissa Singler, Dr. Edith Skipper, Dr. LaChawn Smith, and Duke Wallin. These Executive members served alongside the CTE High School Work Group.

The plan received a major boost when N.C. House Representative Ted Davis, Jr. of New Hanover County helped secure $1 million in state funding for the planned career-technical education high school. Thanks to the Board’s leadership, committee members and the partnership with CFCC, NHCS and Pender County Schools, SEA-Tech is a reality and is located on CFCC’s North Campus. The new school opens its doors to students on August 14, 2017.

The faculty at SEA-Tech worked diligently over the summer to prepare for its inaugural class of students. After meeting with Dr. Skipper and Duke Wallin, CTE Program Development Coordinator, the enthusiasm and anticipation for the first day of school is contagious.

Dr. Skipper is quick to laugh and she is a clever and kind hearted administrator. She credits Mr. Wallin for his research in the Career Technical Education (CTE) program curriculum development over the past 13 months, and praises CFCC for their support throughout the process.

Dr. Skipper’s background in early childhood education is evident with the nurturing approach she has taken in greeting her new students during initial gatherings such as the Open House. Staff members have been making home visits with the students and families of the incoming freshman class over the past weeks, a tradition she intends to continue with each group of new students. The faculty has been intentional about establishing relationships with the incoming students, giving each a SEA-Tech gift box filled with school swag such as tee shirts and sunglasses to help spread school spirit.

Not only has the SEA-Tech staff been developing relationships with incoming students, they have been building relationships as a team. Fresh from a four-day staff retreat in Greenville, SC, the faculty toured Greenville Technical Charter High School, a school with 15 years as a technical development program. Leaders drew upon this opportunity to begin shaping the future development of the SEA-Tech program and created the school’s mission: Explore, Empower, Contribute.

Students will gather each morning for breakfast in a classroom designed with shared office space for support personnel, tables for meal service, and seating for guest speaker presentations. The school will host mini-seminars and guest lectures designed to introduce students to new opportunities and expose them to a world of possibilities.

Dr. Skipper has already unveiled the school’s first assignment: reading the novel Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman. Without giving away the plot, the story is about creating a sense of community, a mission the school will build upon with their first project-based learning experience. Dr. Skipper and her staff are planting seeds that will take root, both literally and figuratively.

In its inaugural year, SEA-Tech welcomes 44 freshmen students to campus, with projected enrollment of nearly 100 students in Year 2 with the next class of rising freshmen. In the first two years, the program will focus on traditional high school courses in a blended curriculum. For example, students taking English I will also achieve the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification. This cross-curricular strategy will be a unique approach to education through project-based learning and will help students earn credentials making them more marketable in the workforce.

In Year 3, the school will transition to its new home - a short commute away on Sidbury Road. At that time, Dr. Skipper hopes to open enrollment across multiple entry points, accepting students who may elect to transfer as juniors from the traditional high schools.

How does SEA-Tech’s approach to high school education differ from the traditional high school and early college programs? SEA-Tech’s mission is to prepare students for career readiness to enter the workforce by helping them achieve credentials and certifications in specific trades. Students will earn dual credits towards both the high school diploma, and a certificate, credential or degree from the community college.

In 9th grade, students will take the Career Management, Research, and Evaluation course. Emphasis is placed on self-assessment of characteristics, career interests, and values, educational research and career exploration. The course will teach lessons in communications, interpersonal skills, problem-solving, personal management, and teamwork essential in the workforce, while developing leadership and community service. The course will implement work-based learning strategies through business and industry field trips, job shadowing, project-based learning and course surveying at CFCC.

Rather than the traditional Senior Project, SEA-Tech students will complete an Internship Project, providing valuable hands-on experience and networking opportunities within the business and trade industries.

Students will also have an added benefit of flexible scheduling with Continuing Education electives offered through CFCC. “If this is happening anywhere else, I’m not aware of it,” Dr. Skipper stated. “These mini-sessions will provide exposure to a variety of interests while providing additional summer program opportunities on a short-term basis.”

Students will have the option to explore courses such as American Sign Language as a Foreign Language, Culinary Arts, and Career Building at no additional cost. “This is a rare opportunity and we are excited to be able to offer it at SEA-Tech,” said Dr. Skipper.

The school has designed its technical course program offerings around the industry and employment needs of the greater Wilmington Metro and Cape Fear region. There are seven Career & Technical Education program areas of interest which include Manufacturing, Computer and Network Engineering, Health Sciences, Hospitality and Tourism, Construction, Small Business, and Transportation/ Logistics, with over 60 career certificate pathways students may access through CFCC and additional opportunities for work-based learning, job shadowing, and internships.

The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County Fire Department have already expressed interest in partnering with the program to help with training new firefighters to fulfill a need. “This is a win-win,” said Mr. Wallin. “It will help students gain valuable work experience and serve the community by fulfilling a need for qualified trained staff.”

For information on how your business can become involved as a community partner, or to volunteer at SEA-Tech, complete this form. Parents and members of the community may also support the school by joining Friends of SEA-Tech; to learn how, contact Duke Wallin at (910) 362-7844 or email info.seatech@nhcs.net.

Students receive schedules in preparation for the first day of school.
Students receive schedules in preparation for the first day of school.
Board Members David Wortman and Bruce Shell greet a new SEA-Tech student and his dad.
Board Members David Wortman and Bruce Shell greet a new SEA-Tech student and his dad.
     
Board Members David Wortman and Bruce Shell speak with City Councilman Charlie Rivenbark who served on the CTE High School Work Group.
Board Members David Wortman and Bruce Shell speak with City Councilman Charlie Rivenbark who served on the CTE High School Work Group.
  Dr. Skipper welcomes a new SEA-Tech family to Open House.
Dr. Skipper welcomes a new SEA-Tech family to Open House.
     
oard Member Don Hayes and Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley help welcome families to Open House
Board Member Don Hayes and Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley help welcome families to Open House.
CTE Program Coordinator Duke Wallin explains what to expect this year at SEA-Tech.
CTE Program Coordinator Duke Wallin explains what to expect this year at SEA-Tech.
     



Posted: 08/15/17