New Horizons Regional Education Center, the program that serves students from six Peninsula-area school divisions, has a new director.
Hampton High School grad Casey Roberts took over from now-retired Joseph Johnson as director this summer.
Roberts, a fifth-generation educator, most recently served as principal at Smithfield High School for three years, before serving as a teacher, instructional specialist and assistant principal.
He had been slated to begin a new role as Isle of Wight’s director of innovation and strategic planning on July 1, where he would have lead the division’s career and technical program and grown business partnerships with the schools.
But when the opportunity at New Horizons opened up, he said he couldn’t pass up applying for a similar position on a much larger regional scale.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Roberts, 34, said in his office at the Butler Farm campus in Hampton. “These jobs don’t open up often, and it was my way of getting out of my comfort zone. I was very comfortable being a high school principal. This is a step above that.”
New Horizons is a consortium of six school divisions — Gloucester, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg-James City County and York — and its board is made up of representatives from each division’s respective school board.
New Horizons serves more than 1,500 students each year, as well as 1,200 adult learners. More than $16 million of its $19 million budget this year is funded by the local divisions who send its students to the various programs.
Those programs range from career and technical education and special education to the Governor’s School for Science and Technology and a youth workforce center.
The six superintendents, with Hampton’s Jeffery Smith as the superintendent-in-charge, also influence the work done. Smith spoke highly of their pick of a new leader, the first since Johnson took over in 2005.
“He certainly brings visionary leadership,” Smith said. “He served the young people in Isle of Wight as principal of Smithfield High School, and there demonstrated exceptional leadership especially in the area of career and technical education. We look forward to what he brings to the table as we move forward.”
During his time at Smithfield, the school division secured a $3 million donation from Smithfield Foods to help bolster CTE efforts there with new buildings and labs.
It’s things like that that Shelly Simonds, chairwoman of the board of trustees and a member of the Newport News School Board, said are exciting.
“He does seem to be very good at reaching out to employers in the community to find out what the needs are and how we can expand partnerships,” she said. “He’s already got some great partnerships started that I’m sure we’ll be announced in the coming months. He’s just all about creating more opportunities for students — and the opportunities are out there, we just need to be assertive to connect with the business community.”
Connecting those businesses and potential employers with students at New Horizons, who could study welding, pipe-fitting, certified nursing assisting, dental assisting and other hands-on, in-demand trades, is key for its future, Roberts says.
He wants to focus on apprenticeships, ways to get students from the classroom to settings where they’d actually use their skills to help them be ready for what’s next after graduation.
“The need is how do we compress the time and space between a kid finishing high school and employment,” Roberts said. “And there’s so many different avenues kids can take nowadays, and getting kids exposed to multiple avenues — not erasing that ‘you can’t go to college,’ not erasing ‘college is not a good goal to go for,’ but also saying, ‘Alright, you have college, and you have all these other avenues right here.
“If kids and parents had the opportunities to expose themselves prior to committing, you would get a better product in the end.”
Hammond can be reached by phone at 757-247-4951 or on Twitter @byjanehammond.
New Horizons Regional Education Centers Names Executive Director
During their regular meeting on May 22, 2018, the Board of Trustees of the New Horizons Regional Education Centers (NHREC) appointed Mr. Casey Roberts as the NHREC Executive Director. He will assume his duties July 1, 2018.
Having served our greater Hampton Roads educational community for the last 12 years, “The New Horizons Board is really excited to start working with Mr. Roberts. He is the right person to build on our successful relationships with local businesses to make sure our students have the technical skills and soft skills to be successful in today’s workplace,” said
Shelly Simonds, chair of the NHREC Board of Trustees.
As the current principal of Smithfield High School with the Isle of Wight County Public Schools, Mr. Roberts oversees the teaching and learning of over 1,200 students, grades nine through twelve. During his five-year tenure, he brokered a $3 million donation from Smithfield Foods to fund the development of new Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming, known as the Smithfield Foods Legacy Project. Through this donation the
school division has been able to expedite the development of programs such as welding, culinary arts, manufacturing, engineering and nursing. In addition to supervising the CTE program, Mr. Roberts implemented two major innovative initiatives: deeper learning instructional model and project based learning. Both of these initiatives have resulted in increased organizational capacity, significant professional development for teachers, and greater achievement among their students.
Mr. Roberts is a graduate of Hampton City Schools (HCS) and began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher at Kecoughtan High School (HCS). During his five years of teaching he served as a classroom management coach, professional development facilitator, state curriculum developer/assessment reviewer, and a research assistant with
the James Comer School Development Program at Yale University. In 2011, Mr. Roberts furthered his career with Virginia Beach City Public Schools as an instructional specialist and coordinator of secondary social studies education. After two years, he joined Isle of Wight County Schools as an assistant principal at Smithfield High School before being promoted to principal. In 2015, he was honored as the Instructional Leader of the Year for Isle of Wight County Schools.
Mr. Roberts’ vast experiences in the areas of education also include director positions for three boards – School Reform Initiative, Alumni Board of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and Hampton Roads Committee of 200+ Men. In addition, he has presented at national, state and university conferences and is affiliated with many professional associations.
Mr. Roberts completed his undergraduate studies in history and leadership studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, Virginia) and earned a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in teacher leadership from Regent University (Virginia Beach, Virginia). He holds an education specialist degree in educational leadership and administration and is currently completing his doctorate in
educational administration and policy studies from The George Washington University (Washington, D.C.). Additionally, Mr. Roberts has completed graduate level coursework at the Principal Institute at Harvard University, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia, The Center of School Transformation, and the SURN Principal Academy (The College
of William and Mary).
“We are looking forward to Mr. Roberts joining the New Horizons team,” said Superintendent of Hampton City Schools Dr. Jeffery Smith, who currently serves as the superintendent of record for NHREC. “His wealth of knowledge and strong experience at the secondary level will further enhance the educational programs and services that support our young people at New Horizons.”
As the Executive Director, Mr. Roberts will provide leadership, supervision, and strategic development for the regional program of the six participating Peninsula school divisions (Gloucester, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg/JCC and York). He will lead the vision, implementation and coordination of the programs to include; Career and Technical Education Center, Governor’s School for Science and Technology, Center for Autism, Newport Academy, Center for Apprenticeship and Adult Training, Youth Workforce Center, and Family Counseling Center.
Mr. Roberts will join a team that is highly focused on effectively fulfilling the mission of New Horizons Regional Education Centers – to prepare students educationally, technically, and socially, according to each student’s needs, to become productive citizens.
Press Release: May 1 “Signing Day”
Click on link: Channel 13 News Coverage
Click on link: NHREC Facebook Page for more coverage
Click on link: Newport News Shipbuilding partnership with the ATC Academy “Good Life Solution”
May 1, 2018
36 New Horizons Career and Technical Education High School Seniors, enrolled in the automotive, construction and manufacturing programs, announce their 1st Job Picks at the May 1 “Signing Day” at the NHREC Butler Farm Campus.
9 Local Employers begin to load their long-term Talent Acquisition and Retention Pipelines with amazing young people from the New Horizons Advance Technical Careers (ATC) Academy to help meet their business goals for the long run. “These incredible Employers agreed to join the ATC “The Good Life Solution – Transition to Employment program in the fall of 2017 on the principle that they owned the hiring decision. With their desire to recruit and hire the best young talent they could find, these companies now believe the Advanced Technical Careers Academy (Automotive, Construction and Manufacturing) is one of their best sources for Talent”, says Joe Johnson the NHREC Executive Director.
According to Joe Barto, President of TMG, the Good Life Solution Program Manager, “My company has been working with employers across the country to improve their Team’s Business Performance. The most successful companies are those who do not fall victim to the ‘you just cannot find good people these days’ but recognize they have to do something different to attract and retain the right talent. The employers who accept they “own” this critical challenge are winning and winning BIG. This is not the end but the beginning for these employers who know it is not how many they hire but how many they keep as engaged productive employees for many years to come.”
“We want talent for life at Newport News Shipbuilding and the New Horizons program is a great way to help us meet this goal.” said Matt Needy, VP of Operations at Newport News Shipbuilding. “These new shipbuilders will contribute to our amazing mission of building great Navy ships while becoming productive members of our community.”
The NHREC Business Council for the Advanced Technical Careers (ATC) Academy (Automotive, Construction and Manufacturing) invites you to the first annual “SIGNING DAY”. ATC “The Good Life Solution” is a Business Driven Academy with a focus on Employer Talent Acquisition and Retention.
We are pleased to announce that 36 NHREC CTE high school seniors in these training programs have been made at least one employment offer. On May 1, students along with their parents will announce their decision of employment. It is NHREC’s and the ATC Business Council belief that this initial career announcement and signing is as important, if not more so, than any sports scholarship signing in terms of life long impact to the individual and the Peninsula workforce.
NHREC and the ATC Business Council is about changing the image and stereotype of a career in the technical trades. Many of our Completers will go onto post-secondary training in their trade prior to entering the workforce; however, on this day employers will hire those young adults ready to transition into employment with skills and desire to work.