A Message from our Principal
Meet Fred Whalen, Principal
Joined Team CCS - August 2003
I have worked in education for 23 years as a science teacher, coach, and administrator. During my first 6 years in education, I taught Marine Science and Chemistry and coached football and track at Cooper City High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I was twice selected as the "Best Overall Teacher" by students and staff. After our first child was born, we moved to Hickory to be closer to family. I began my career in CCS at St. Stephens High School as a biology, chemistry, and physics teacher. I also served as the head track and head football coach. After 10 years at SSHS, I became the Assistant Principal at Challenger Early College and then at Tuttle Elementary. In 2018, I returned to Challenger ECHS as the Principal. I have presented at several state administrator conferences and currently assist NCDPI with CIHS regional meetings and state leadership conferences.
B.S. Chemistry, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
M.A. Science Education, Nova Southeastern University
M.A. Educational Leadership, Appalachian State University
Why I Became an Educator
My mother was one of my elementary school teachers and the reason I ultimately decided to become an educator. She instilled in me the desire to help others and encouraged me to choose a career that could make a positive difference in the lives of others.believing in me. They listened to their students and showed them they mattered and were important.
Favorite Place in Catawba County
I love the downtown area of Hickory for its outdoor areas, great restaurants, and walkability. I look forward to the new city walk and river walk additions.
I enjoy spending time with family and friends; sports (particularly basketball and golf); video editing; and playing games (I am SUPER competitive)!
Something Unique About Me
I have taught or coached the following: a supermodel, an NFL player, a TV/movie actor, and an author (you'll have to guess who they all are)
I eagerly joined the CCS Family because of its highly ranked schools, talented students, and caring educators.
Assistant Principal and Athletic Director, Challenger Early College High School
Meet Brigette DeArman, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director
Joined Team CCS - July 2000
I have worked in public education for nearly 30 years with 23 of those years in NC and 20 of those years for Catawba County Schools. I have taught ELA, NC Social Studies, and reading at the middle school level and English at the high school level; developed my own writing curriculum while teaching at the Early College - during which my students earned the highest writing proficiency in this region; and served as the secondary education mentor for beginning teachers. I am currently the AP at the Early College, in which I used to teach. I served as the vice president for three years and as the president for five years for the Catawba County chapter of NCAE.
B.S. Secondary Education English, Edinboro University of PA
M.A. in Education Administration and Supervision
I knew at the age of 5 that I wanted to be a teacher. I attribute that to my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Ralph. She, my second grade teacher, Mrs. Eckart, my 6th grader teacher, Miss Simmons, and my 9th and 10th grade English teachers, Mrs. Lewis and Mrs. Amendola, all had a huge impact on me through their willingness to wait on me to overcome my shyness when called on in class to just believing in me. They listened to their students and showed them they mattered and were important.
I absolutely love going to the beach, regardless of the season or weather. I prefer the beaches of NC and those on the Gulf Coast, and, of course, any Caribbean beach. Walking, relaxing, reading by the water, or watching the waves makes my soul happy.
Anything Else You Want Us To Know?
I have an adorable fur baby, Samantha Marae. She is the sweetest, smartest, and prettiest kitty. I also have an amazing husband and best friend, Steve, who takes me to the beach whenever I feel the need to go, except on school nights (haha!).
I joined CCS because of the commitment to students and employees. There is a true sense of family within the school system that makes people feel welcomed and valued.
Meet Debbie Austin, CVCC Director of Early Colleges
I graduated from Gardner-Webb College with a B.S. in Secondary Education, Masters Degree from UNC-Greensboro in Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Ecology. Before coming to CVCC in 2007, I was the Asst. Director of Financial Aid at a four-year university. My hobbies include scientific bird watching and building wildlife habitats, astronomy, reading British crime novels and Nordic mythology. I also own a native tree nursery.