Sarah Heath, Colorado’s newest State CTE Director began her career in education by chance, occasionally substitute teaching a computer applications class at a local high school while finishing her undergraduate degree in business in Georgia. Dr. Heath found that working with students was much more compelling and fulfilling than her previous work on management information and database systems, and when the job became available, Dr. Heath took on a full time teaching position.
Upon completion of her master’s degree in business education at the University of Georgia, Dr. Heath became very active in the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education, attended the national conference, and worked on a variety of committees. Finding she excelled in leadership roles, Dr. Heath rose the ranks quickly after transitioning to the administrative side of education, and became the state program director in Georgia.
After completing her PhD in Georgia, Dr. Heath moved to Colorado and worked as the local district CTE director for the Jefferson County (Jeffco) Public School system, the largest public school system in Colorado, while also serving as ACTE’s national president. While at Jeffco, she experienced a completely different CTE system than in Georgia. In Georgia, the state oversees much of its CTE, from professional development of educators to course selection. In comparison, in Colorado, CTE is controlled primarily at the local level. And, whereas Georgia has a long history and tradition of CTE, Dr. Heath saw a greater need for stronger workforce and employer engagement strategy in Colorado.
In her new role as the State CTE Director, Dr. Heath is committed to creating stronger connections between business and industry partners and local districts. Instead of business taking a passive approach to CTE, Dr. Heath envisions a system where employers from the state, regional and local level will take center stage and not only serve on advisory committees, but also direct the curriculum of CTE programming. “Employers can talk about their needs, and CTE can be an answer to those needs,” said Dr. Heath. “We need to help agencies, associations, industry and education across the state be a part of each other’s way of doing business. CTE is relevant to what business is doing, and the more we can demonstrate that the brighter our future will be.”
In addition to engaging industry as equal partners in the development of CTE in the state, Dr. Heath will focus on using the data and employment projections from labor and workforce agencies and organizations in Colorado to assist in deciding what is relevant to a student’s education, and training locals to make programmatic decisions the same way.
In addition to building relationships between education and industry, Dr. Heath wants to create more defined transitions between secondary and postsecondary CTE, along with raising the profile of CTSOs and their value to students.
After years of working with Dr. Heath in her role as ACTE national president, NASDCTEc is excited to have her join our ranks as one our newest State CTE Directors!
Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate