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Davis Journal

Hunt takes over as CTE director, Poll fills role at Catalyst

Jun 09, 2022 10:46AM ● By Becky Ginos

KAYSVILLE—There’s some shuffling going on in the Davis School District this fall, as Brian Hunt moves from his position as principal at the Davis Catalyst Center to CTE (Career and Technical Education) Director and Tyler Poll switches from principal at North Davis Junior High to take Hunt’s place. 

“I’ve been working as the administrator at the Catalyst since it opened in January,” said Hunt, who has been with the district for 20 years. “The Catalyst is a remarkable place. A few years ago (Superintendent) Reid Newey said he’d like to have a CTE center where students could do capstone projects. Jay Welk (retiring CTE Director) went across the country to see what others were doing.”

The district bought the building in Kaysville, gutted it and renovated it, he said. “We asked the CTE instructors what programs they’d like to see and what it is students want to do to support local businesses.”

Every student is required to take one credit of CTE electives, said Hunt. “Most schools offer classes like automotive, business and marketing, etc. They can take a series of courses in an area then shift to the Catalyst if they choose to do a capstone project.”

“We see ourselves as a feeder of CTE,” said Poll, who has been with the district for 12 years. “The goal is to help students figure out what they’re interested in and leave with the credentials in that field to move on.” 

AP computer science students come through to see the Catalyst in the eighth grade, he said. “We have amazing CTE instructors so if a student chooses to do a capstone project they’d be prepared for that.”

“We might tell them to go back to their high school and take these classes, etc. to be prepared to come to the Catalyst,” said Hunt. “Students have had a great experience here. They feel trusted to work on a project and engage with the industry partners.”

Some kids who are not doing well in their classes come to the Catalyst and it becomes an incentive to do better in high school, said Poll. “Even students who are 4.0 academically come here. There’s a wide spectrum.”

Seeing students develop professional skills and problem solving is rewarding, said Hunt. “They’re learning to get along with others and communicate. Before they wouldn’t look them in the eye or know how to talk to an adult. It helps them get better at it.”

Kids are handed a phone number and told to call someone, he said. “They say ‘I have to call?’ Yes, this is your project.”

When they stretch they grow, Hunt said. “We’re really trying to be a catalyst for them. We’re promoting a significant change in students’ technical skills but also developing the best professional skills.”

Most of the classes at the Catalyst are concurrent enrollment, he said. “They also earn college credit so it’s like a scholarship where they can save $1,000. But we also partner with industry, that's what makes us unique.”

“We’re adding construction management next year,” said Poll. “Kids will build a tiny home. It gives them experience in plumbing, electrical and everything that goes into a home.”

“We want them to still stay connected with their home high school,” said Hunt. “Most of the programs have prerequisites before they come here. There are introductory classes they can take at their school.”

“Our computer science and cyber security programs are in demand,” said Poll. “We’ve had to turn kids away.”

Poll said they have worked hard with industry on what students need to be employed. “We have 53 industry partners. They give them real live projects to work on that will go to market. It’s a way for students to collaborate with each other and work hand in hand with business partners. We’re building the next level of professionals.” λ