Gov, FHS share goal

In line with Lee, Bartlett set to grow CTE, start ‘construction trade’ path

Gov. Bill Lee, center, enjoys his new Farragut High School hat and T-shirt just after arriving on campus Friday afternoon, Dec. 6. Greeting the governor were FHS principal Dr. John Bartlett, left, and state Rep. Jason Zachary (R-District 14, which includes Farragut).
Noting Farragut High School “has big plans for the future in (Career & Technical Education), and that’s what I’m particularly interested in,” Gov. Bill Lee spent a few minutes with FHS principal Dr. John Bartlett talking CTE during the governor’s first visit to Farragut since being elected in 2018.

“We talked about that future and what those plans look like,” added Lee, who joined Bartlett in leading an entourage of Town, County and state elected officials touring the school during the visit Friday afternoon, Dec. 6.

“Farragut High School’s got a rich academic tradition, and he recognized that very quickly,” Bartlett said. “We talked about CTE programming quite a bit.”

Facing a serious challenge, “We’ve got to get our CTE programming in place,” the FHS principal said. “We have nothing here for kids to get their hands dirty. We have no hands-on applicable learning that kids need to do. That’s welding, auto mechanics, the construction trade, engineering — those type of things where kids are actually building something and getting their hands dirty. We don’t have that right now.”

Actually, “We have a little more of the engineering structure in place … more of the machinery in place for that,” he added, “So we’re able to actually start ramping up engineering a little bit next semester.”

However, “It’s not going to be where we want it to be for a couple of years,” Bartlett added.

Moreover, plans for building its construction trade program “is a next (school) year thing, not a (next) semester thing,” Bartlett said, “Which will be more of a commercial construction program; that could be interior or exterior construction.”

To help get such a program off the ground, “We would go to a construction company in our community and say, ‘hey, we might need help with something,’” Bartlett said. “But most of the equipment would be paid for through Federal Government Perkins money or state/local money.”

As for laying the groundwork, “I’ve been talking to Knox County Schools for a couple of months now about what we’re going to do,” Bartlett said. “We actually had a sit-down conversation with their CTE director yesterday about what we’re going to do moving forward.”

The direction taken is a result of “surveying our students and looking at our job market,” the FHS principal said.

As for the students’ choice, “I think auto mechanics was the top one, and I think construction trades was No. 2, but it was right there with welding,” Bartlett said.

But while also factoring in the job market, “then you look at other programs around the county,” he said. “We have more than a couple of auto mechanics programs throughout the county. We have a couple of welding programs in our county.

“But we don’t have a commercial construction program in our county — so we’d like to fill that void,” Bartlett added. “That’s where we’re headed right now.”

Also needed, of course, “Is a teaching staff,” he said.

However, hiring top CTE staff directly from the professional world is a challenge.

“Most of the time that’s a pay cut,” Bartlett said about such a professional-to-teacher transition. “But a lot of them do it because they love kids.”

However, “A lot of them can’t take the pay cut and then turn around and pay $10,000 to $15,000 to go back to school to get certified to teach,” he added. “… It’s $7,000 to $10,000 at least to get that certification.”