Since 1976, Career Center High School has been a vital part of the Winston-Salem education community. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools created this unprecedented complementary high school model, unlike any other in the area. It is a place where students can expand on their education by enrolling in a greater variety of advanced classes. Principal Nancy Martinez appreciates what Career Center has to offer to help students grow socially and academically. “Our school is a microcosm of the diversity that these students will experience in college and the workplace. It allows the opportunity to learn to communicate and collaborate with others by interacting with students that are different than themselves.”
Career Center primarily offers two types of classes: Advanced Placement (AP) and Career Technical Education (CTE) courses, in addition to several specialty courses that permit students to stay on track for graduation. There are 31 AP courses, 15 2-year CTE programs, and 15 specialty courses. This variety provides students the opportunity to begin a career or extend themselves academically. Students can design a schedule suiting their needs which may include any combination of these courses, for all or part of the school day. Classes are 50 minutes instead of the 90-minute blocks found in other schools, offering students daily reinforcement that many appreciate. The school system provides transportation for all students, and their state-of-the-art facility is centrally located for convenient access.
The staff at Career Center brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise into the classroom for their students. Most CTE faculty have real-world experience that they gained in their field before teaching. At least 11 AP faculty have been invited to grade AP exams, making them more knowledgeable about their courses and better able to train their students. The staff is one of the many reasons students consistently score higher on state & national exams. Sean Bennett, AP Biology Instructor and Science Department Chair, acknowledges the responsibility of teaching at Career Center, because he understands what the students gain from this experience. “We don’t just teach our students; we give them the space to grow and mature. We inspire and motivate them when they need it and help them see what they are capable of accomplishing. It’s gratifying to watch them exceed their expectations and see how their time with us opens doors down the road.”
What is truly unique about Career Center is the opportunity it provides students to explore the freedom of adulthood, while still being in a safe, protected space that can support them. Students are treated like adults and have the chance to manage their classes with a new level of freedom. They are encouraged to define their learning style and fine-tune their skills to support themselves as they further their education and begin their careers. The expectations are high, and students rise to the occasion.
The best way to see what Career Center has to offer is to hear from the people who have benefited from the experience.
Amelia Rhodes is a sophomore at Appalachian State University. After attending Career Center in high school for her AP classes, she earned the Chancellor’s Scholarship, the most academically competitive scholarship at Appalachian, covering full institutional costs for up to 4 years. Amelia spoke favorably of her high school experience. “The Career Center is an experience I will always appreciate. It made a huge impact on my education. It is such a great and gentle way to immerse yourself in a more college-like environment, and exposes you to all sorts of different people. The teachers allow students to learn the material in an exciting and challenging way, while providing an example of how each of us should approach our jobs. Instead of looking at teaching as a career that is not as lucrative or appreciated as it should be, they give it their all and are absolutely fearless in how passionately they approach each and every topic. I have not seen this in another public school setting.”
Kyra Blackmon was a student in the CTE Visual Arts program at Career Center and currently works as an interior designer in Charlotte. She spoke about how her experience shaped her transition to college and her career. “I look back at my time at the Career Center with much fondness. I found people that I loved to be around, which in turn strengthened into long relationships. I loved the photography classes and learned so much more than I expected to learn. I felt I was better prepared for college-level courses and gained the self-discipline required to complete long-term projects. The Career Center helped to solidify my love for all things art. Although I don’t do photography professionally, I have been able to use it periodically in my career. Visual arts start with composition and developing an eye for space, depth, and balance. That eye for composition is also needed for interior design.”
If you or the high school student in your life are ready to enhance your educational experience, reach out today. Career Center is located at 910 Highland Court in Winston-Salem. For more information, check out their website at wsfcs.k12.nc.us/cc, or call 336-727-8181. Join Principal Nancy Martinez for a Virtual Town Hall on January 21st, 2021, at 5:30 PM, highlighting the music department and the culinary and automotive programs. You can also join them for the virtual Open House, coming up on January 28th, from 5:30-7:30 PM.
Former Student Quotes
Dylan Greenwood, 2005: The Career Center is invaluable. I went to college with people just as smart as me. We all had honors and prestige. However, my foundation was far and above any of my peers. Forsyth County is so lucky to have the Career Center. I just hope that my 6 month old gets to experience it when he is of age. The social connections, academic rigor, and personal skills from my three years at Career Center prepared me well to meet challenges inside and outside of the classroom. The extra commute and early mornings were certainly challenging as a teenager, but well worth the experiences gained at the time and at current.
Jackson Owens, 2010: Career Center gives people the opportunity to experience a more diverse learning environment surrounded by students who are more passionate and invested in education or career advancement. I think it also provides a place for students to meet more like minded people than they typically would by just going to their district school.
Elizabeth Glontz, 2017: Career Center offered me the unique opportunity to take additional high-level courses with other students who were also high-achieving. I was able to be surrounded by students with more advanced discussion skills, which allowed for a more open classroom environment.