Nov. 29, 2022
Frances Hall grew up surrounded by the old ways. She grew up around people gainfully employed in the trades. They took her to job sites, taught her about reading, about blueprints, about the math so essential in construction. She experienced how important it was that one generation taught the next about work.
After decades of doing that work, when it came time for her to pay it forward, she wanted to open a trades school but quickly learned that “we had to be more than just a school.”
Most of the 200 students who have come through her Vocational Training Center could not initially do the 8th-grade math required for trades certifications. As drugs and violence consumed so many young people, her school had to help students “think differently about life… We have to instill hope.”
Hall told the story of one recent student who showed up for class with an ankle monitor and “an attitude from hell.” He excelled in math, however, but had “kept it under the radar.” After HVAC training, he went off to a local company and, while employed there, entered additional training on plumbing. He has since married and has a child, Hall said.
For the young people that Hall says God has called her to serve, most need immediate help overcoming gaps in their education. On a recent visit by 35 youngsters to the school, Hall says she asked every child to write a single paragraph explaining what makes them special. Only one child’s paragraph, Hall said, was legible and made sense. That child’s father said that reading was fundamental in their home and that his children did not watch TV. About education, Hall said, “It’s got to start at home.”
Hall went on to acknowledge that, throughout the county, many parents also slid through school, and now cannot help their children learn at home. Hall has little patience with school systems that know they are not doing right by thousands of children, but do not tackle the changes necessary to give every child a chance for success.
Hall wants action, and has long used action to improve her lot and the lot of others. She told a story about meeting a concrete contractor who did not believe she could lay brick. Hall said she volunteered to work without pay for a day at his job site, and in that day laid about 1,400 bricks. The contractor later became a business partner.
Hall left Miami nearly three decades ago after her young husband, a police officer, was murdered. She brought their four children to Charlotte and worked in a variety of jobs before entering the construction trades that family members had taught her growing up. She is a certified instructor through the National Center of Construction Education and Research as well as a licensed Substance Abuse Counselor with the North Carolina Substance Abuse Practice Board. Contracts for metal framing, drywall and masonry work with her company, C4 Construction, have taken her across the country and abroad.
The Vocational Trade Center is at 1406 Beatties Ford Road. Its website is here.
Below is the video from this morning’s presentation.