FOREST CITY—Annie McEntyre is completing her third and final week of on-site learning at the American Zinc Products (AZP) facility in southern Rutherford County. McEntyre is physical science teacher at East Rutherford High School, and is also a 2022-2023 Kenan Fellow.
The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership is housed at N.C. State University. This is the second consecutive year that AZP has supported a Kenan Fellow. Last year, the AZP Kenan Fellow was Beverly Owens of Cleveland County Schools.
McEntyre says she initially was mostly unfamiliar with AZP.
“I really did not realize it is right here in our backyard,” she said. “There are many wonderful opportunities at AZP.
McEntyre has been learning about how AZP creates a sustainable future through a commitment to safety and the environment. The opportunities, she says, for local residents are substantial.
“There are job options here, for people with a variety of educational backgrounds, whether it’s high school, two-year degree or four-year degree,” McEntyre said. “At AZP, they see value in the people who work here. One of the employees I met had a GED, and yet was able to serve in a supervisory role.”
“If employees care, have a positive attitude and are willing to learn, AZP will make an investment in them,” McEntyre continued.
“It is impressive, to see up close, the scale of the work that is taking place,” she said.
McEntyre will take the things she has learned to her students in the classroom, once the new school year begins in August. She said it has been beneficial for her to see real-word applications of the science that she teaches, in an industrial setting.
McEntyre and the leaders at AZP will explore ways that some AZP employees will come into the classroom in the upcoming school year.
“Overall, I want to be able to raise the curiosity among my students about career possibilities related to science, that are close to home,” McEntyre said. “And I want to give them direction on the educational training they will need for specific jobs.”
“This has been a wonderful experience for me,” she added. “I only wish that my time at the AZP facility had been longer.”
AZP is one of Rutherford County’s largest employers. The company uses unique technology to transform a WAELZ Oxide into Special High Grade Zinc, one of the highest commercial grades of zinc, used primarily for galvanizing steel. Galvanized steel is used in numerous industrial applications, such as the fabrication of highway guard rails, car bodies, and household appliances. Zinc is also a well-known dietary supplement and is also used in pharmaceutical applications.