Empowering Learners and Building a Stronger Workforce, Fostering Economic Growth

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Who We Are


K-64 is a systemic approach to shaping future careers and meeting workforce demands by connecting students and employers throughout the educational curriculum.

K-64 increases student and employer engagement in educational programs proven to prepare a qualified workforce by:

  • Collaborating with employers to align courses of study with workforce needs.
  • Connecting students to real-world careers and related curriculum choices from early on.
  • Empowering adults to enhance employability in a dynamic work environment.

What K-64 Will Accomplish

  • Short-Term: Increased student and employer participation in real-world educational pathways designed to meet workforce needs.
  • Mid-Range: More local jobs filled in targeted industries as a result of educational alignment.
  • Long-Term: A seamless, demand-driven, replicable education system that consistently cultivates a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce ready to fill local jobs and help drive the economy.

History. Mission. Vision.

Mission and Vision:

K-64 is dedicated to fostering collaboration between education, government, and business to develop, attract, and retain a future-ready talent pool to meet growing workforce demands and ensure a bright economic future for Catawba County, NC. 



The K-64 initiative was born out of a 2016 population study of Catawba County that indicated an ongoing gradual decline in the working-age population of Catawba County. In an effort to proactively drive local economic and population growth the Catawba County Board of Commissioners identified education as one of eight critical growth sectors in their strategic plan and commissioned the K-64 Initiative to lead the way. On January 17, 2017, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution to form K-64 and approved its bylaws. The Board also voted to approve seed-funding to help kick-start the initiative.

In March 2017, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed to formalize the K-64 partnership among the initiative’s founding partners: Catawba County, Catawba County Chamber of Commerce, Catawba County Economic Development Corp., Catawba County Schools, Catawba Valley Community College, Hickory Public Schools, and Newton-Conover City Schools. In May 2017, the initiative’s governing board was formed and work on building this innovative initiative began.


  • Over $6 million raised locally in less than 2 years.
  • 16,000 devices placed in the hands of K-12 students.
  • Invested more than $300,000 in teacher training.
  • Invested in character education programs for three public school districts.
  • Engaged more than 300 businesses to visit and partner with the CVCC Workforce Solutions Center.

Areas of Work

One-to-World Technology

Accelerating learning inside and outside the classroom by connecting students with access to relevant technologies.

Character Education

Teaching critical soft skills, such as goal-setting, interpersonal communication and team building, to ensure students are well-prepared to engage in work and in life.

Tech-Savvy Educators

Continually equipping teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to incorporate leading-edge technologies into lesson plans and classroom environments.

Work-Based Learning

Facilitating job shadowing, internships, co-ops, work-study programs and apprenticeships to connect students with real-world careers and local employers.

Employer Engagement

Cultivating collaborative partnerships with businesses to invest in the development of a well-prepared and highly engaged workforce of tomorrow.

Career Adaptability

Ensuring access to relevant educational services to help adults develop nimble skill sets and assure career longevity.

Our Team

Mark Story


Mark Story was the passionate visionary behind K-64 who brought all the stakeholders to the table to open doors for students to achieve their educational and career goals. We tragically lost him in February 2020 but are committed to carry his vision forward with the same passion with which he paved the way.


Dr. Garrett Hinshaw

Interim CEO

As Interim CEO, Dr. Hinshaw directs the K-64 Initiative to ensure sustainability, scalability and achievement of outcomes related to the program’s six guiding priorities.



Christie Sims

Business Liaison

As Business Liaison of K-64, Christie Sims is responsible for connecting businesses to future outcomes and sustainability of the K-64 initiative.


Chris Reese

Business Liaison

As Business Liaison of K-64, Chris Reese is responsible for connecting businesses to K-14 work-based learning and adult populations within the Catawba Valley Community College’s academy programs.


Cassidy Collins

Marketing and Resource Development

As Marketing and Resource Development Support, Cassidy Collins shares the K-64 stories, successes, and events through social media and business-to-business communication.

Nick Plemmons

Talent Development & Work-based Learning Coordinator

As Talent Development and Work-based Learning Coordinator, Nick Plemmons is responsible for connecting students with work-based learning opportunities and businesses with talent.


Natalie Mull

Scholar Advisor and Work-based Learning Faculty Lead

As Scholar Advisor and Work-based Learning Faculty Lead, Natalie Mull is responsible for providing career and college counseling and work-based learning opportunities for local high school students.


Martha Carrillo

Business Engagement Coordinator

As Business Engagement Coordinator, Martha Carillo is responsible for engaging businesses in local education programs and connecting students with job opportunities.

Le’Quan McCorkle

College and Career Advocate

As College and Career Advocate, Le’Quan McCorkle is responsible for providing career and college counseling for local high school students and overseeing the K-64 Leadership Institute, Exploring and Mentoring programs.

Our Latest News

Character-Education Tools Purchased for Schools

Character-Education Tools Purchased for Schools

Character-Education Tools Purchased for Schools Through a challenge grant provided and matched by Alex Lee Inc., K-64 has helped to purchase character-education tools that will benefit three local school districts, its teachers and students. Read More

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20 Years of Change: Downturn Renewed Emphasis on Education

20 Years of Change: Downturn Renewed Emphasis on Education

EDUCATION: A LOOK AT THE LAST 20 YEARS Downturn renewed emphasis on education This week, the Hickory Daily Record staff is exploring more than what happened in 2020. We are looking at the changes that have taken place 20 years as our community prepares to welcome...

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K-64’s Work-based Learning Course a Huge Success!

K-64’s Work-based Learning Course a Huge Success!

In January, K-64, in partnership with Catawba Valley Community College, launched a new work-based learning course focused on critical soft skills development and including a 32-hour internship. The course was approved as a Career and College Promise course allowing...

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Catawba Valley Community College
2550 US Hwy 70 SE
Hickory, NC  28602

Dr. Garrett Hinshaw, Interim CEO
(828) 327-7000, ext. 4280

Chris Reese, Business Liaison
(828) 327-7000, ext. 4635

Christie Sims, Business Liaison
(828) 327-7000, ext. 4135


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