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Governor Celebrates Teachers and Public Education During Visit to Smith High

May 7, 2024 – Invest in public schools. That is what Governor Roy Cooper says it will take to make North Carolina teachers, staff, students and communities succeed.

The Governor visited Smith High School on Tuesday afternoon as part of his “Year of Public Schools” education tour. Earlier this year, the Governor declared a state of emergency for public education, highlighting the growing number of resources being taken away from public schools and being allocated to private and charter schools.

Currently, students attending public schools in North Carolina are graduating at record highs and are earning a record-high number of workforce credentials. In Guilford County Schools (GCS), the number of workforce credentials students earned has increased 178% over the last three years. “Through our more than 48 choice schools and 66 choice programs, along with our neighborhood schools, Career and Technical Education and Career and College Promise programs, we are providing students opportunities to gain the skills they will need to compete and succeed in a global economy,” Superintendent Dr. Whitney Oakley said.

During his visit, the Governor toured the school’s Signature Career Academy for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering. There, students learn essential skills that set them apart from their peers while competing in the global workforce. The district’s legislative agenda calls on state lawmakers to provide $2 million in funding to create a second Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Signature Career Academy at Southeast High.

Through a partnership with Toyota, a company that’s made one of the biggest investments in the state, the district is closer to reaching its goal of having a sixth Signature Career Academy. In April, the company announced a $1.5 million donation to create and expand workforce development pathways at Southeast High and Jackson Middle.

During remarks, both Governor Cooper and Dr. Oakley recognized investments by community partners in schools and the investment of teachers and school staff to foster student success. They each cited their proposed budgets, which include increases in pay for teachers and staff. They also called on local, state, and federal lawmakers to deepen investments in public schools.

“A more educated community leads to a stronger workforce, which attracts more business investments, and that cycle continues,” Dr. Oakley said. “North Carolina is already the number one state for business. We cannot continue to be last in public education. I call on business and government officials to make the necessary investments so all North Carolinians can participate and reap the benefits of a global economy.”

Governor Cooper concluded the event by signing a document proclaiming May 6-10, 2024, as Teacher Appreciation Week and May 7, 2024, as Teacher Appreciation Day. “Teachers here at Smith High School and across our state help students pursue their dreams,” said Governor Cooper. “This Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m urging our legislators to show teachers our appreciation with a significant and well-deserved pay raise.”

Throughout the month of May, GCS recognizes teachers and school employees. Families, students and employees can nominate a GCS Allstar for recognition by emailing a brief description and a photo to