New Horizons Regional Education Center – Mechatronics Program

  • The New Horizons Regional Education Center Mechatronics Program provides training to students to meet the workforce need for manufacturing technicians.

Preparing Students for the New Virginia Mechatronics Program Recognized by

Governor Terry McAuliffe

Pictured left to right: Dr. Seyed Akhavi, TNCC Dean; Dewey Ray, NHREC CTE Principal; Shelly Simonds NHREC Board of Trustees Chair; Ms. Pam Nuby, Canon VA.; Governor Terry McAuliffe; Rich Wilcox, TNCC Instructor; Dr. Anne Holton, Va. State Board of Education; Dr. Dietra Trent, Va. Secretary of Education


Governor McAuliffe recognized New Horizons Regional Education Center (NHREC), operated by the six Great Peninsula School Divisions, as a recipient of the inaugural Governor’s Awards for Innovation and Excellence in Education, Thursday Oct. 26th at the Executive Mansion in Richmond.  NHREC and Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) partnered in creating Mechatronics collaborative training agreement to provide a pipeline of trained high school graduates to address the documented regional workforce demand for manufacturing technicians.   NHREC provided the classroom and lab space while TNCC, through a Department of Labor Grant, provided equipment, technology and Siemens certified faculty to train 16 high school students.  This training agreement set forth an unprecedented rigor for a one year half-day regional program whereby highly qualified and screened high school students could earn 22 college dual enrollment credits, Siemens Level 1 Mechatronics Certification, and a TNCC Career Studies Certificate in Mechatronics Technology.  The program’s first year produced outstanding results with all 16 students earning all the dual enrollment credits, and 15/16 passing the Siemens Level 1 Mechatronics Certification.

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For Immediate Release: October 27, 2017
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy,

Governor McAuliffe Announces Recipients of the Inaugural Governor’s Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Education

~Virginia recognizes outstanding individuals, schools, programs, and~


RICHMOND – Governor McAuliffe today announced the first recipients of the Governor’s Award for Excellence and Innovation in Education. This new initiative recognizes outstanding educators and leaders, schools, divisions, and community partners across five categories: closing the achievement gap, community partnerships and collaboration, innovation in education, preparing students for the new Virginia economy; and supporting school readiness. Out of more than 120 nominations, 13 were selected for recognition and honored at the Executive Mansion last night.

“Over the last four years, my administration has worked hard to reduce the achievement gap, improve accountability, and expand opportunities for career exposure and experiential learning in our public schools. These individuals, schools, divisions and partners are at the forefront of that effort, and I applaud their willingness to think outside the box and boldly try new things,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Excellent education is the key to unlocking the potential in our children, our commonwealth, and the new Virginia economy.”

“Every day, Virginia’s education professionals make incredible contributions to our communities and students,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “This new award is one small way we can recognize their commitment to providing their students with everything they need to succeed in school and in life.”

The award categories and recipients are as follows:

Closing the Achievement Gap

  • Principal Karen Nelson
    As principal of Perrymont Elementary School, Ms. Nelson has significantly improved SOL scores and narrowed the achievement gap.
  • Weems Elementary School
    Under the leadership of Principal Dave Rupert, Weems Elementary staff has improved student achievement through the school’s unique Talents and Gifts program.

Community Partnerships and Collaboration

  • Lord Fairfax Community College
    The college’s Worlds of Work! interactive career expo is an exemplary public-private partnership that engages students in career readiness activities.
  • Fauquier County Public Schools
    The school district has collaborated with the Fauquier Excellence in Education Foundation and the Lord Fairfax Community College – Fauquier Campus to connect students and parents to the opportunities available at Lord Fairfax Community College.

Innovation in Education

  • Harrisonburg School Nutrition Program
    The School Nutrition Program team expanded the district’s summer meal program by converting a bookmobile into a mobile cafe.
  • Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon
    As superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools, Dr. Shannon has implemented a number of innovative initiatives, including Code to the Future programming for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
  • Mosaic Program, Oakridge Elementary School
    As a cross-curricular exemplary project, Mosaic celebrates diversity promotes a deeper learning of Virginia’s content standards and fosters a sense of community throughout Oakridge.


  • Valley Health System
    In partnership with six school divisions and other community agencies, Valley Health System has promoted health sciences opportunities and is fostering a health sciences pipeline within the region.
  • Arlington Public Schools Department of Information Services
    Arlington Student Center’s Cyber Sandbox provides tools and resources to help students advance their cybersecurity knowledge.
  • STEM Trifecta, Virginia Beach City Public Schools
    The STEM Trifecta team has created a platform for all students to join in three types of technical competition: The Robotics Challenge; The Maker Expo; and The Cybersecurity & Cyber Innovation Challenge.
  • United Way of Southwest Virginia
    United Way of Southwest Virginia’s Ignite Program is a partnership between school divisions and regional partners that provides career guidance and work-based learning opportunities to middle and high school students.

Supporting School Readiness

  • Elon Rhodes Early Learning Center
    Sharon Shuttle, Early Learning Services Coordinator, and Anita Warner, Family and Diversity Specialist, have worked to provide early learning opportunities for at-risk three- and four-year-olds in Harrisonburg City Public Schools.