Guy Jackson, State CTE Director
Wyoming Department of Education
Over the past year we have had a number of new State CTE Directors join NASDCTEc. Over the next few months, we will take a look into each new State CTE Director’s challenges, opportunities and goals for his or her tenure. For our first in the series, we spoke to Guy Jackson, State CTE Director in Wyoming.
- How did you come to be the State CTE Director in your state?
In high school I was very interested in anything mechanical (cars, aircraft, etc.) but went on to college and earned a B.S.Ed. from the University of Memphis. I started flying during college and decided to get my aircraft maintenance technician certificate and FAA Aircraft Mechanic’s License and worked in aviation for several years. My career in Career Technical Education (CTE) began when I moved to Wyoming to teach at an aviation maintenance technician school. After 26 years of teaching and education administration, I took a consultant position with the Wyoming Department of Education and administration at postsecondary technical schools. From there, I was promoted to the Wyoming State CTE Director in March of this year.
- What are your major goals for CTE in your state? And what do you think your biggest challenges are in your new role as State CTE Director?
My first priority is to provide professional development to existing educators in building effective CTE programs that result in graduates that are college and career ready.
There are a multitude of challenges to this. This includes:
- Educators and administrators occasionally view Wyoming Department of Education-provided professional development opportunities as having no value to their classroom and instructional needs.
- Ensuring career advising is a shared effort among educators, as school counselors do not currently have the capacity to provide all students with the necessary information and resources to make good decisions about school programs, colleges and careers.
- Educating teachers in academic and technical-based skills. CTE teachers are more likely to have experience in project-based learning and lack advanced academic subject knowledge or formal training in the integration of academics into their technical coursework.
Though the challenges are there, it opens opportunities to work with the community to advance this priority. We will achieve this by working with Perkins secondary and postsecondary coordinators, CTE curriculum coordinators, and district instructional/training coordinators to develop and deliver effective, meaningful teacher professional development. We also hope to provide ‘academy’ offerings that help teachers implement best practices and innovative curriculum and encourage academic core and career technical teachers to integrate their subject areas.
Additionally, we plan to develop a state web-based career development and exploration platform that will available to every student, parent and educator in Wyoming, as well as work to encourage and facilitate teacher summer externship opportunities across the career pathways.
My second priority is to encourage districts to adopt regional strategies that promote collaboration among districts and institutions.
The largest challenge to achieving this priority is that most high schools are unable to offer more than four or five comprehensive career pathways with a full complement of academic and technical courses. Rural districts and high schools with less than 200 students find it difficult to offer more than two career pathways.
Despite this barrier, we can encourage districts to collaborate with neighboring districts to organize complementary career cluster and career pathway offerings as well as create inter-district transfer opportunities for students and teachers. Critical to accomplishing this will be regional CTE strategy meetings and trainings.
My third priority is to facilitate business/industry and education partnerships. This has its challenges in that two-way communication between business/industry and education is not always consistent due to time, budget and other resource constraints. Also, formal apprenticeship programs often do not want to include high school CTE students due to liability issues.
We are looking to overcome this is by convening regional and statewide teams of academic and CTE secondary and postsecondary instructors along with industry representatives to develop competencies and CTE assessments in career pathways that are most important to the state economy. Also, we want to encourage local business and industry investment and support through funding, in-kind gifts, and externship opportunities for educators. Finally, we need to find solutions to liability issues so that we can connect high school students with formal apprenticeship programs.
My last priority is to strengthen teacher preparation programs and remove obstacles to hiring effective CTE teachers, particularly critical as many of our state CTE teachers are close to retirement. Districts and administrators are finding it difficult to hire effective and qualified CTE teachers, which often results in the discontinuation of a CTE program.
We have identified some possible solutions to these obstacles. We will identify instructional activities that can be used in teacher preparation programs to prepare new teachers using innovative delivery systems. Along with identifying activities, we want to support the expansion of CTE teacher preparation programs at the University of Wyoming by encouraging teacher candidates to pursue dual certification in academic and technical subject areas and validate that Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board CTE teacher endorsement is meeting the state’s needs.
- What do you think the future of CTE looks like in your state?
The future of CTE in Wyoming is dependent on the state’s ability to support innovation in CTE to meet its education, workforce and economic needs. That support is based on our state’s CTE funding in addition to Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education funding. Though we are a small, rural state with limited funding, the Governor Matt Mead and Jillian Balow, Superintendent of Public Instruction recognize and support CTE in our state.
We look forward to working with our state school districts and community colleges to advance best practices in Wyoming Career Technical Education.
Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate