Northview Academy students are learning screen printing, embroidery and other specialty jobs and math skills in their apparel shop. N.C. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt (above) recently toured the school.


A business inside Northview Academy is gaining local attention and has even caught the eye of N.C. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt.

Phoenix Apparel Plus, the student-run screen printing, embroidery and specialty items business, is creating custom T-shirt orders. The program is one of the new Career Technical Education (CTE) initiatives offered by Iredell-Statesville Schools during the 2022-2023 school year.

“Looking at Northview Academy and seeing what they have done to help kids who are struggling in traditional high school — to literally stay in school and graduate — was something that I wish every school district had,” Truitt said.

“Having a student-centered alternative high school is rare and very necessary. That’s how you save kids,” she added.

Blaine, one of the students in the program, walked N.C. Department of Public Instruction officials through a step-by-step process of the work involved in the store.

“Here’s where all the magic happens,” he said, as he laid out a T-shirt and spread a thick deposit of screen-printing ink across it.

The school recently completed an order of T-shirts for a Children’s Hope Alliance fundraiser and other schools in the district.

“Seeing hard work payoff, it’s a good feeling,” said Blaine.

Courtney, another student, said that it wasn’t difficult to learn, but it’s important to pay attention to what you are doing when working with the embroidery machine.

“If you have a shirt, you don’t want it to get it threaded to the back of the shirt. It’s the small things that you have to watch,” she explained.

Businesses, nonprofits and churches in the community who would like T-shirts or other project done by the school can contact Phoenix Apparel Plus at or at 704-872-7606.

‘It really fits a need’

The school developed a new vision when they moved into a larger campus this school year. Their goal is to increase access to CTE courses and provide curriculum to help students connect what they learn in the core classroom with real world application.

Last summer, staff members attended training in preparation for teaching the Amped Mathematics Curriculum. Amped Mathematics in collaboration with the CTE Department, inspired the creation of Phoenix Apparel Plus.

“It really fits a lot of needs. It gives them two credits and gives them the experience of a vocation,” said Coordinator of Alternative Learning Mark Vaughn.

Students receive a math credit and CTE credit at the same time.

‘Hand-on learning’

The math portion of the class is taught by CTE teacher Scott Hudson and the hands-on part of the class with screen printing and other machines is taught by CTE teacher Tim Vallejos.

Pictured (from left) are Northview teachers Tim Vallejos and Scott Hudson. They co-teach Amped Mathematics, which led to the creation of Phoenix Apparel Plus.

The teachers collaborate on lessons. Additionally, the pair are best friends and said that it’s been a good fit to work together.

Hudson said that students come to his classroom first and then go to the shop.

“Students don’t even realize that they are using math when they are figuring out what X is and how much they need to make a profit,” he said. “A lot of our students don’t learn best by sitting at a desk. This gives them hands-on learning.”

For Hudson, it was important to make sure the class was self-sufficient so that they could purchase materials and a few extras ahead of time for completing orders.

He said that while students don’t get paid that they are able to create their own designs and T-shirts for friends and family.

Vallejos also mentioned he’s seen dramatic improvements in students’ attitudes through this work. He said the best part is watching students teach other students and take pride in their work.

“It’s really cool to see some of the shirts they’ve done out in public. They say, ‘Hey, I’ve made that shirt,’ ” Vallejos said.

Principal Eric Babbitt said that the program was made possible through a grant, CTE monies and by acquiring tools that weren’t being used at other schools.

“It’s a unique program. I don’t think there’s any other program like this in the state. It’s neat to see it happening and happening well,” Babbitt said.

“It gives our students the opportunity to see success and to shine and be the star of the class. They normally don’t have that opportunity,” he added.

Babbitt said has also observed the positive effect it has had on his teachers.

“It has reinvigorated a passion for teaching as well, which is equally as cool,” he said.