CATEC December Newsletter

Stay Up-to-Date on All the Things Happening at CATEC

Keep In Touch

There are lots of ways to know what is happening at CATEC. Keep in touch with us to know what our students are doing and all the ways we are working to improve our local workforce.

High School

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Adult Education and Apprenticeship

Are you an adult interested in continuing your education? CATEC's Adult Education and Apprenticeship Program offers +100 in-person and online classes. Scholarships are available. Keep in touch with this program to learn more:

Director's Message

Happy Holidays!

Dear CATEC Families,

It is hard to believe that the end of 2021 is upon us! We have been enjoying the festive season with a holiday spirit week. It has been a joy to see our students having fun! The classroom door decorations were amazing!

As our students near the halfway point, it is important to help them stay focused on their goals. We are nearing crunch time for state certification exams. Please encourage your students to come to school daily. Being here is half the battle! The certification they earn is a gateway to a fulfilling career that will open many doors.

I want to send a special “thank you” to the Emergency Food Network. They were wonderful partners and donated 25 bags of non-perishable food bags for our families over Winter Break. If you know anyone in need of assistance accessing food, please direct them to the Emergency Food Network at 900 Harris Street in Charlottesville or they can call (434) 979-9180. They are happy to help!

Over the next couple of weeks, I hope everyone enjoys family, festivities, and has lots of fun. We will look forward to welcoming our students back in 2022! We are wishing everyone happy holidays and a happy new year!

Schoolwide Information

Calendar Dates

December 20- January 3- Winter Break

January 4- CATEC welcomes back students

January 17- CATEC closed for MLK Jr. Day

January 18- CATEC Center Board Meeting 6pm via YouTube channel

January 21- CATEC Half Day, AM CCS students attend, AM ACPS attend if you have transportation, no PM students

January 24-25- CATEC Closed for Teacher Work Days

January 27- Technical Eats! food bus in CATEC parking lot

In the News

CATEC's EMT program hosted a representative from CAE Healthcare on December 15th. He brought with him an emergency medical simulation manakin that has blinking eyes, a pulse, spews blood, and can talk. Students interacted with the manakin and are looking forward to using one again in the spring. Read more from NBC29.

School Counseling Services

Ms. Wilson, CATEC's School Counselor, is on-site daily to assist students with scheduling issues, college dual-enrollment registration, and individual needs. Ms. Wilson is currently out of the building on maternity leave. Please welcome our school counseling intern Tessie King, who will be providing student support until Ms. Wilson's return. Ms. King can be reached by email at and 434-973-4461.

Together, with the Emergency Food Network, Ms. King helped prepare 28 bags of non-perishable food bags for CATEC families. Thank you Ms. King for organizing this.

CATEC Students are Professional: Workplace Readiness

CATEC values making sure students graduate with the technical skills and workplace skills necessary for entering the workforce. CATEC has implemented a "CATEC Students Are Professional" mantra to ensure students understand what it takes to be successful in our building and in the workforce. Students are expected to act in accordance with industry standards and practice the 22 21st Century Workplace Readiness Skills for the Commonwealth.

In December, students practiced skills related to conflict resolution. Additionally, students participate in monthly Career Development sessions where they practice skills needed to get jobs and keep them to create a lasting career.

CATEC Academics

CATEC offers academic courses that are both embedded in trade curricula and offered as stand-alone courses. Taking trade and academic courses at CATEC allows students more flexibility with their scheduling as well as learning class materials in authentic ways.

English 12 & Government: Megan Panek and David Topper

Here we sit with 2021 on the verge of being in the books, another 525,600 minutes lived. As English and Social Studies teachers, Mrs. Panek and Mr. Topper are grateful to have had the opportunity to share a few of those minutes with your young learners. Our last unit was spent discussing political ideologies (including your students personal belief), the two party system and minority parties, voting rights and disenfranchisement (Click here for the amazing story of FANNIE LOU HAMER that we shared in class), and persuasive devices (political advertisements). Looking forward we are going to dive into the waters of politics in the digital age and develop skill sets to tell FACT from FICTION in the news and social media.

Being that this is a U.S Government class, it is interesting to note that on June 24, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant became the first president to sign a proclamation declaring Christmas a national holiday. President Grant’s slogan was “Let there be peace.” A slogan that is timeless and fitting for today as much as it was following a time where the U.S. was coming out of the Civil War. Grant's commitment to making Christmas a legal holiday needs to be understood as part of his drive to unite the North and the South after the war, a daunting task to say the least. It is our hope that you and your families find time to rest and recharge during our break as well as find peace during our winter holiday break.

English 10 & 11 embedded in Culinary 1: Megan Panek

Students researched a holiday food tradition special to their family. They then wrote blogs explaining the origins of those food traditions. Read them here! Students also strengthened their reading skills by reading non-fiction articles relating to Culinary Arts and determining text structure, main ideas, and supporting details.

English 11 embedded in Cosmetology 1: Megan Panek

Students worked on a holiday fantasy hair look for their Cosmetology 1 midterm practicum. In English 11, they created social media carousel posts that detail the steps they took to create the look with images. These types of posts are often used by salons and other small businesses to attract clientele. Students also completed a mini-unit on writing clear, effective sentences to improve writing overall. Finally, they strengthened their reading skills by reading non-fiction articles relating to Cosmetology and determining text structure, main ideas, and supporting details.

Economics and Personal Finance: David Topper

We are wrapping up another trip around our celestial orb and getting ready to kick off a new one. At this time of year we always reflect on what we accomplished and enjoy planning for what’s next. In our Personal Finance Class (the gift that keeps on giving), we spent time learning many different lessons that make our young learners stronger financially. So far this year we have covered the value of money, checking, savings, credit cards and debit cards. Looking ahead we will be studying apartment shopping, car loans, credit management, and taxes. Looking at this Holiday Season we would be remiss if we did not discuss maintaining a good budget while shopping and making merry. Did you know?

  • The most popular Christmas gift category is Clothing and Accessories
  • The average amount U.S. consumers plan to spend on holiday gifts is $886
  • 24% of Americans will put up a live Christmas Tree

Click here for an interesting article from on how to do your holiday shopping on a budget. Here’s to a Wonderful Holiday Break and we will see you next year!

Geometry embedded into Building Trades: Jake Sills

Geometry students are working on graphic design projects. Students are learning about rotations, reflections, symmetry, translations, and dilations in Geometry. With this information, they are looking up a favorite brand/logo and applying those different movements. They are recreating their own logo for the brand and make an advertisement.

Profile of a CATEC Student

Each month, we introduce you to two current CATEC students. Here at CATEC, we know our student body is diverse and interesting and we want to share their stories with our community.

Josselin Rosas-Castillo, Nurse Assistant

Josselin Rosas-Castillo enjoys getting to meet new people. The Monticello High School 11th grader is enrolled in CATEC's Nurse Assistant program. She says she has enjoyed getting to meet new people from different schools. She says the same about her love of soccer. Josselin plays forward and striker for MHS's girls' soccer team and likes getting to meet people through their shared love of the game. She is interested in continuing her education at PVCC where she can study nursing. She hopes to be a midwife or RN one day.

Victor Valovalo, Fire Science

Victor Valovalo values brotherhood. As a CATEC Fire Science student who also plays varsity football, connecting with his team mates is something looks for when pursuing his interests. The Monticello High School senior transitioned from swimmer to football player in a few short years. Victor plays safety and running back for MHS. He hopes to play football at ODU or JMU and upon graduation, and if his football career ends, intends on becoming a firefighter. He says he enjoys working alongside his classmates in Fire Science.

Each month we highlight one aspect of our program offerings that make CATEC unique. This month, in time for local high schools to begin registration for next school year, we are putting the spotlight on our academic course offerings.

Academic Integration at CATEC

CATEC Academic Offerings for the 2022-2023 School Year

Academics in the CTE Setting

As Career and Technical Education evolves, CATEC is proud of its integration of academic courses into its CTE line up. For the 2022-2023 school year, CATEC will be offering seven academic courses, expanding students’ ability to take CATEC trade classes and earn core high school academic credits simultaneously. By doing so, CATEC is increasingly becoming a one-stop shop for high school credits.

Pathways to Lifelong Learner Competencies

CATEC is offering robust education opportunities, with options that align with Albemarle County Public Schools 7 Pathways to Lifelong Learner Competencies. Throughout its academic courses, students exercise their research, analytical, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and civic skills. Not only are students getting trade education when they attend CATEC, they are also learning how all aspects of education are interconnected and collaborative. Director Stephanie Carter says, “This is an exciting time for CATEC because it makes learning relevant. By creating opportunities for our students to dig deeper into the trade they love while accessing an academic course, CATEC students make connections that ignite the fires of curiosity and truly engage in their learning.”

Profile of a Virginia Graduate

As CATEC continues to evolve, it keeps in mind the Profile of a Virginia Graduate. The model emphasizes four core areas of academic experience: career exploration, workplace skills, content knowledge, and community engagement and civic responsibility. CATEC has longstanding success in addressing career exploration and workplace skills with its students. With the addition of seven academic courses, it now adds content knowledge and community engagement and civic responsibility to its roster of successful academic experiences.


Algebra-Function Data Analysis and Geometry are taught by CATEC’s Math Integration Specialist. This specialist works collaboratively with CATEC’s Building Trades Instructor to integrate Geometry into the Building Trades program. Both Building Trades and Electricity are expanding to two-year programs, which allows Building Trades students to earn their Geometry credit upon completion of their first year. Students use geometric concepts and formulas to solve practical problems related to the core building trades of masonry, carpentry, electricity, and plumbing. They can also earn verified credits through a passing score on the Geometry Standards of Learning (SOL). AFDA is offered as a pull-out course for students from multiple trades. The class is project-based, and students will use algebraic functions and analyze data to solve practical problems.

English 11

CATEC’s English Instructor offers English 11 as a pull-out course for students from multiple trades. In this project-based class, the four main strands of the English standards of learning- reading, writing, communication & research- will be connected to students’ trade programs as much as possible so the learning is more interesting and important to students. Students will also prepare for the SOL Reading Test and either the Work Keys Writing Test or a local Writing Performance Task, one of which must be completed to earn a verified writing credit for graduation.

English 12 and US Government

English 12 and US Government is an interdisciplinary, project-based class that incorporates English reading, writing, research, and communication skills into US Government curriculum. The class emphasizes student inquiry into their rights and responsibilities as US citizens, how government systems impact their daily lives, and how the media influences politics and society as a whole. Students also explore how they can affect change through political engagement.

Economic and Personal Finance

In Economics & Personal Finance students learn how to navigate the financial decisions they face and to make informed decisions related to career exploration, budgeting and banking, and living as adults. In addition to developing personal finance skills, students have the opportunity to earn the Working in Support of Education (W!SE) Financial Literacy credential.


Two CATEC Health and Medical Sciences Academy programs offer science credits through their trade curricula. Biology II: Anatomy and Physiology will be embedded within Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Veterinary Science classes. The EMT Instructor teaches students the organization of the human body, including the purpose and features of all body systems. Veterinary Science students learn the organization of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, including the purpose and features of all body systems, focusing on mammals. Both classes will conduct laboratory investigations to support their learning.

Meet the English Instructor: Megan Panek

Mrs. Panek has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and German and a Master of Education from the University of New Hampshire. She taught for the first 13 years of her career in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She has experience teaching in a traditional high school from her seven years at Waukesha South High and also in a virtual environment from her six years at eAchieve Academy. She is also a trained instructional coach with six years of coaching experience. She loves being a part of Career and Technical education at CATEC and is excited to integrate English standards of learning into the trades.

Meet the Personal Finance and Government Instructor: David Topper

David Topper is a Charlottesville native, having grown up in Woodbrook and graduating from Albemarle High School. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the College of Charleston, where he played soccer and rugby. He began his teaching career at Albemarle High School teaching Social Studies. He left public education for a stint in the private sector working as a trainer and consultant with State Farm. As the saying goes, history repeats itself, and so he is back in the classroom and loves teaching at CATEC.

Meet the Math Instructor: Jake Sills

Mr. Sills was born and raised in Palm Springs, California. He graduated from Vanguard University in Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Math. After college graduation, he moved outside Los Angeles, California to a town called Ontario. He then graduated from Hope International University, earning a Single Subject Teaching Credential. He has taught math since 2007.

Meet the Biology II: Anatomy and Physiology Instructor Cat Gardner

Mrs. Gardner has been in the Emergency Medical field for since 2000, with 14 years as an active provider, overlapping with 15 years as an EMS Instructor. Her qualifications include: Virginia Paramedic, Virginia EMS Education Coordinator, and an NCEE certification (Nationally Certified EMS Educator). She was a first responder at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. She is a faculty member of the Virginia EMS Symposium, is a member of the Virginia DOE EMT I/II Curriculum Revision committee, and served on the EMT III Curriculum writing committee. Mrs. Gardner is an adjunct professor for Piedmont Virginia Community College and, as such, her EMT students receive dual-enrollment college credits.

Meet the Biology II: Anatomy and Physiology Instructor: Dr. Kimberly Smyth

Dr. Smyth is a small animal veterinarian who graduated from the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She practiced small animal medicine in Pennsylvania and the Charlottesville area for many years, and continues to educate pet owners by authoring hundreds of articles about pet health. Dr. Smyth is an adjunct professor for Blue Ridge Community College and, as such, her Veterinary Science students receive dual-enrollment college credits. Dr. Smyth stepped into the role of instructor for CATEC’s Veterinary Science program because she wanted to foster the interest of pet health in community students and help create much needed workforce-ready veterinary assistants for area veterinary clinics.