On Thursday, August 25th, Viddia and I attended the grand reopening of the Brevard Station Museum. Also attending the event was State Senator Ted Alexander. The Brevard Station Museum received $12,500 from the 2021 and 2022 state budgets. The event began with Pat Smith, Secretary of the Brevard Station Museum Board of Directors, speaking to attendees. I then gave a brief speech on requesting and securing the funds for the museum. Afterward, we had a ceremonial ribbon cutting in which Barry Smith, President of the museum, and I cut the ribbon.


Attendees then heard a presentation from Michael C. Hardy, a published author and noted historian, on his book A History Lover’s Guide to North Carolina. I want to thank Barry, Pat, and all the Brevard Station Museum Board of Directors for their hard work and dedication to this excellent museum. I am proud to have secured the funding for the museum, and I look forward to attending future events there.

As always, if you require assistance, please contact my office, and we will help in any way possible. Please also follow my legislative page on Facebook for the latest news.

It is an honor to represent you and Gaston County in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

All My Best,

John Torbett
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Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee Meeting

On Tuesday, September 6th, I attended the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh, NC. After approving previous meeting minutes, the committee heard several presentations. Click here to view all the documents and slide shows from the meeting.


The first presentation was an update on Project Kitty Hawk. The presentation was given by Dr. Andrew Kelly, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Policy for the UNC System Office, and Wil Zemp, President & CEO of Project Kitty Hawk. We then heard reports on instructional support personnel. The first report was from the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), given by Alexis Schauss, Chief Financial Officer at NCDPI. Next, we heard a report from Catawba County Schools (CCS) given by Dr. Matthew Stover, CCS Superintendent, and Karla Albridge, CCS Chief Financial Officer.


The final group of presentations was on competency-based education models. The first presentation was from NCDPI, given by Dr. Andrew Smith, NCDPI Assistant Superintendent. A presentation was then given by Newton-Conover City School District‘s Shuford Elementary School. Kisha Clemons, Principal of Shuford Elementary School, and teachers Cayley Rozzelle and Emily Bryan. The final presentation was given by Dr. Trip Stallings, Executive Director of NC Longitudinal Data System for the NC Department of Information Technology.

2022 NC Education Innovation Lab

On Wednesday, September 7th, I attended the 2022 NC Education Innovation Lab at the SAS Executive Briefing Center in Cary, NC. The NC Education Innovation Lab is an NC STRIDE event. NC STRIDE is an initiative by BEST NC to create solutions for teacher recruitment in North Carolina.


The day began with opening remarks by Walter McDowell, Chairman of BEST NC, and Brenda Berg, President and CEO of BEST NC. Matthew Bristow-Smith, Principal of Edgecombe Early College High School, introduced the keynote speaker. Dr. Matthew Springer. Dr. Springer, the Hussman Distinguished Professor of Education Reform at UNC Chapel Hill, gave his address on why great teachers matter to students.


Next was a panel discussion on professional pathways for teachers. On the panel was Dr. Valerie Bridges, Edgecombe County Public Schools Superintendent; Dr. Alfred Bryant, Jr., Dean of the School of Education and Human Sciences at Campbell University; Keiyonna Dubashi, Executive Director of Profound Ladies; Dr. Kimberly Gold, Chief of Staff for the North Carolina Community College System; and Dr. Anthony Graham, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Winston-Salem State University. Leah Carper, a Northern Guilford High School teacher, served as moderator.


NC Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt then spoke to attendees. Superintendent Truitt's remarks included a video of education leaders from around the state sharing their ideas on making North Carolina the best state in the nation in which to teach and learn. The day's second panel was on NC Pathways to Excellence for Teaching Professionals. On the panel were Dr. Van Dempsey, Dean of the Watson College of Education at UNC Wilmington and Chair of the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC), and Maureen Stover, a North Carolina Virtual Public Schools teacher and a Member of PEPSC. Julie Pittman, Special Advisor on Teacher Engagement for the Office of the State Superintendent served as moderator.


Attendees then participated in breakout sessions covering several topics, from advanced teaching roles to teacher apprenticeship models. After the breakout sessions, Brenda Berg concluded the event with closing remarks. I want to thank BEST NC and NC STRIDE for hosting this event and bringing stakeholders together to discuss solutions for teacher recruitment.

Charlotte Western Railroad Tour

On Friday, September 9th, I participated in a tour with Charlotte Western Railroad. Philip McGinnis joined me as my guest. Philip and I started our tour at Charlotte Western Railroad’s warehouse in Gastonia. There we met Doug Peterson, President of Charlotte Western Railroad; Bruce Carswell, Senior Vice President at Jaguar Transport Holdings, LLC; and Jeff Van Schaick, Senior Vice President of External Relations at Jaguar Transport Holdings, LLC.


After a quick safety briefing, we toured the warehouse. We then got on a hi-rail truck and rode to and from McAdenville. I want to thank Mr. Peterson, Mr. Carswell, and Mr. Van Schaick for the wonderful tour. I would also like to thank Philip for accompanying me. I look forward to seeing great things from Charlotte Western Railroad to enhance this rail corridor.

Our Education System: The NC Education Lottery

The North Carolina Education Lottery was established in 2005 following the signing of the North Carolina State Lottery Act. The lottery took in $3.8 billion in fiscal year 2020-21 and paid out $2.4 billion in prizes. Of the remaining $1.3 billion, 69% ($936.8 million) went toward education. Below is a breakdown of the NC Lottery’s revenue from fiscal year 2020-21:

The revenue that goes toward education is either appropriated in the state budget by the General Assembly or is automatically appropriated under state law. Of the $936 million, 52% went to school staff, 29% for school construction, 11% for NC Pre-K, 5% for Education Lottery Scholarships & Grants, and 3% for transportation.


On the NC Education Lottery’s website, you can find a summary of lottery fund distribution to education programs in every county (click here to view). In fiscal year 2021, Gaston County received $14,746,607 from the lottery. The breakdown of those funds is as follows:

  • $3,428,875 for Prekindergarten
  • $696,254 for College Scholarships
  • $197,659 for Financial Aid within the UNC System
  • $7,659,142 for Non-Instructional Staff (i.e., office assistants, custodians, and substitute teachers)
  • $337,195 for School Transportation
  • $2,427,482 for School Construction


If there is an area of our Education System you wish me to cover in a future newsletter, please get in touch with me at [email protected].

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