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At Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Bates helps students find their future

SALISBURY – Dominique Bates, a career development coordinator for Rowan-Salisbury Schools, is a Salisbury native with a passion for providing guidance and direction to high school students.

“As career development coordinators, it’s our job to connect students with their career path and expose them to all of their options available after high school,” Bates said. “We start as early as fifth grade. We have to make our students aware of their different options and the different possibilities of careers they can go into.”

Bates, who works for North Rowan and Henderson Independent high schools, said students often have no idea of the wide variety of career options available for them, except for what they see on TV. Students also see what theire parents or family members do, he said.

“Each time I ask a student what they want to do when they grow up, it’s always something generic,” he said. “They might say something like: ‘I want to be a football player.’ Apparently you like sports. When you go to a football arena, do you realize how many career options are involved in a putting a pro football game together? Hundreds.

It’s our job to expose them to and provide them with work-based learning opportunities, internships and apprenticeships.”

Bates, himself, he is a product of Rowan-Salisbury Schools. He comes from “a huge family.” And his grandmother has more than 30 grandchildren, including him. While he’s the third-oldest grandchild, Bates said he had to set an example for the others.

He went to North Rowan schools from kindergarten to 12th grade and graduated in 2002. He then enrolled at Winston-Salem State, graduating in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in management information systems. His first job was in information technology.

But that wasn’t his passion — something he helps students find today.

“I had all the skills. I was really good at it. I got hired for a really good job before I graduated, but that really wasn’t my passion,” he said. “One day, as I was volunteering at North Rowan Middle School as a basketball coach, one of my former teachers said, ‘You should get into education. If you taught education, what would you teach?'”

Bates’ response was business. And when that former teacher became principal at Knox Middle School, Bates had a job interview. He got a job as a business teacher there and worked in the role for four years.

“My principal there suggested that I go up for a different role and actually helped me seek out a career development coordinator position,” Bates said.

 

Now, as a career and technical education coordinator, he helps students with internships.

“I’ve had students intern with mechanics, surgeons, work at the District Attorney’s office, work on farms and work out in the field in construction,” he said.

It’s a “great exploration” for them, Bates said.

“We figure out what they want to do and we just match them up,” he said. “Hopefully we will save them some time and save them some money.”

Bates also offered some advice for students: you’re not a failure if you don’t go to college.

“That is just not true,” he said. “I was an honors student, and a lot of people misconceive that and think you can’t be an honors student and a CTE student. And you can. That was me; I was an honors CTE student.”

Outside of work, Bates says, he enjoys spending time with his family. He and his wife, Kathryn Bates, who also works with Rowan-Salisbury Schools, have a 2-year-old daughter, AnnaMarie.

“AnnaMarie is our pride and joy,” he said. “The best part of being a father and a husband is the love. They lift me up whenever I am going through something. I can go home and look to them, and it’s all love.”

Bates said as a father, husband and educator, he is “still trying to figure it out every day.”

“I’m enjoying the process of what God has for my family and for my daughter,” he said.

 

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