K-64 brings education, business, and government together to connect people of all ages with the skills needed to fill jobs and build careers in Catawba County.

Who We Are

K-64 brings education, business, and government together to connect people of all ages with the skills needed to fill jobs and build careers in Catawba County.

  • Increase student and employer engagement in educational programs proven to prepare a qualified workforce.
  • Collaborate with employers to align courses of study with workforce needs.
  • Connect students to real-world careers and related curriculum choices.
  • Empower adults to enhance employability in a dynamic work environment.

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. 



K-64 Learning was born out of a 2016 population study of Catawba County which indicated an ongoing gradual decline in the local working-age population. With efforts to proactively drive 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 K-64 Learning 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, The Chamber of Catawba County, Catawba County Economic Development Corporation, Catawba County Schools, Catawba Valley Community College, Hickory Public Schools, and Newton-Conover City Schools. We have continued to collaborate and establish best practices to meet growing workforce demands.


  • Over $6 million raised locally in less than 2 years.
  • 14,000 devices placed in the hands of K-12 students.
  • Invested more than $300,000 in teacher training.
  • Invested in soft skills education programs for three public school districts.
  • Placed high school Scholar Advisors in all 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.

Work-Ready Skills

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 his same passion.


Chris Reese

Executive Director

As Executive Director of K-64, Chris Reese is responsible for managing our internal and external stakeholders as well as connecting businesses to K-12 and adult populations within Catawba County.


Christie Sims

Business Liaison

As Business Liaison of K-64, Christie Sims is responsible for connecting businesses to educational and professional organizations, grant research, and sustainability of the K-64 initiative.


Martha Carillo

Business Engagement Coordinator

Martha Carillo is responsible for engaging businesses in local education programs and connecting students with job opportunities.

Natalie Mull

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.


Cassidy Collins

Marketing and Resource Development

Cassidy Collins manages the K-64 brand and Catawba County success stories through our traditional and digital communication platforms.


Joretta Fish

Administrative Assistant

Joretta Fish organizes our daily activities, manages office communication, and runs the front desk of the Workforce Solutions Complex.



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

K-64 – Physical Address
1980 Startown Road
Hickory, NC  28602

Chris Reese, Executive Director
(828) 327-7000, ext. 4635

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


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