Tips to Help You Make the Best of the Rest of CTE Month

February 14th, 2020

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through CTE Month! Every February, the CTE community celebrates CTE Month® to raise awareness of the role that CTE has in readying our students for careers and college. CTE Month, spearheaded by Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), is a time to recognize and celebrate the CTE community members’ achievements and accomplishments nationwide. Below are some tips to make the most of your CTE Month with some examples of how states are promoting CTE in their state. 

Use the Right Messages
Despite our best efforts, we don’t always speak about CTE in the way that most resonates with students and parents. Be sure that you’re communicating with these two important audiences by checking out our new research on the messages that students and parents want to hear, Dos and Dont’s for using the messages, and a guide on how you can put this research into action. Use graphics in your social media with compelling research data. (Click the link to download)

Celebrate!
Recognize those in your community, whether it’s high-achieving CTE students, exemplary educators, or impactful partners that have a positive influence in CTE by celebrating their accomplishments and showcasing their successes. 

New Hampshire’s Career development Bureau Hits the Road to Showcase CTE
New Hampshire Department of Education’s Career Development Bureau is doing tours of the state out of their new Mobile CTE Classroom called M.A.P., Mobile Access to Pathways. They’re having New Hampshire SkillsUSA instructor and students along to tell the story of what makes CTE so great in New Hampshire

Recognize CTE at the State Level
Engage policymakers in the conversation by encouraging them to designate February as CTE month. Use a sample proclamation created by ACTE

Involve Your Partners
The Career Technical Education (CTE) community encompasses all the people that work to make your CTE program – whether it’s at the local, state or national level – great, including education, community, and business partners. Encourage them to advocate for CTE to their own networks, and invite partners to participate in celebratory events or site visits. 

Wyoming Department of Education Elevates Importance of CTSOs in Wyoming
The Wyoming Department of Education’s CTE unit wanted to celebrate the amazing role Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) play during CTE Month. They are hosting weekly “Brown Bag for the Brain” lunches during the national CTSO week for each CTSO where student leaders explain the history and benefits of the CTSO to all Department of Education employees. They highlight the ways in which CTSOs help students to prepare for college, career or the military; the successes they have had during competitions; and the community service they provide. 

Coordinate
Once you’ve got all partners on board, it’s crucial to coordinate messaging among all who will help to promote CTE during the month. Supply partners with sample social media posts, templates and website copy to be sure all partners are messaging under a common theme. This will negate any chance of message confusion. Consider creating a state-wide social media calendar and resource guide, like South Carolina did for CTE Month in 2020. Also, consider creating a CTE Month communications plan and sample event announcements for local districts and schools like Alabama in 2017.

Kentucky Department of Education’s CTE Office Offers Supports to Educators
The Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education and Student Transition (OCTEST) will be hosting eight regional meetings to help educators better understand CTE and its benefits. The meetings will explore how to implement dual credit, improve career/college advising and develop seamless CTE career pathways.  Educators will learn best practices related to dual credit, career/college advising and CTE in their schools by being introduced to new resources, asset mapping and networking opportunities. The sessions are intended for district teams (including Superintendents, High School Principals, Middle School Principals, Technical Center Principals, School Counselors, Dual Credit Coordinators, and Title IV Coordinators) to learn and plan together and ensure everyone understands how to best connect and support students in CTE.

Engage Employers
Contact local employers and businesses that aren’t yet familiar with your CTE program and invite them to school visits to showcase high-quality CTE in action or career fairs with already engaged employers. Use Advance CTE fact sheets and talking points designed specifically to address this audience. 

Join the Conversation
CTE Month is celebrated nationwide, including on social media. Join in on Twitter chats, upload photos of your events, feature student work, and engage in discussion with CTE advocates from across the country using the #CTEMonth hashtag. Be sure to tag us too, @CTEWorks.  

Get the word out!
Let the local media know what’s happening and invite them to your planned awards ceremonies, career fairs or school visits highlighting innovative CTE. Get some tips on how to engage key audiences here. Also, let us know how you’re planning to celebrate the month for a chance to be featured in our weekly CTE Month blog series

Oklahoma Promotes CTE During Superbowl
Oklahoma CareerTech developed an amazing video demonstrating how CTE can get you to your dream career, whether that’s in healthcare, Information Technology or on the racetrack. View the video

Katie Fitzgerald, Director of Communications and Membership

Clay Long, Achieving His Dream Job

January 28th, 2020

Clay Long is about to hit his two-month mark on the job as the State CTE Director in Idaho but he is no newbie to Career Technical Education (CTE). Serving in this role has been Clay’s dream job for 15 years, since he first held an internship in the state CTE office while he was an undergraduate.

Most recently, Clay served as the chief of staff for the mayor of the City of Nampa, ID, and as a CTE administrator in the Nampa school district, the third-largest school district in the state. As a CTE administrator, Clay pursued answers to the questions, “What does CTE provide as a unique competitive advantage?” and “How can we best connect industry to learners?” Clay focused on CTE branding, marketing and outreach to industry, parents and students. This area of communications is of continued interest to Clay as he settles into the State Director role.

Clay has held a variety of leadership roles, from serving on CTSO boards (Idaho Business Professionals of America (BPA), SkillsUSA Idaho and National BPA), and was the president of Career & Technical Educators of Idaho. Notably, Clay’s passion for CTE is long held, as he taught firefighting at Idaho’s first high school firefighting program, stepping up to lead the program after a struggling first-year.

Looking ahead, Clay is interested in exploring models of virtual education that provides increased access to rural and remote learners – a challenge for Idaho – and collaborating with staff and stakeholders to inform an upcoming five-year strategic plan focusing on the ability to meet the demands and needs of industry. He is excited that CTE is top of mind and frequently mentioned by legislators in his state, and was even mentioned in the Governor’s State of the State address, demonstrating the importance of CTE in Idaho.

Fun Facts about Clay:

Favorite weekend activities: traveling and spending time with family and friends

If he could only eat one type of food for the rest of his life: Italian food

 

Mississippi Welcomes Dr. Aimee Brown to Lead State CTE System

December 9th, 2019

Dr. Aimee Brown was appointed Mississippi’s Director of Career and Technical Education in June 2019, following nearly three decades in the CTE field.

Before Aimee joined the Mississippi State Department of Education, she served 12 years as the CTE Director for the Madison County School District — one of Mississippi’s largest school districts. There, she led the expansion of the district’s CTE programs, resulting in two of her district’s five career academies being nationally recognized as model academies. Before then, Aimee was the CTE director in a smaller rural district, where she worked to improve equity and access to CTE for her students. Prior to becoming an administrator, Aimee received her doctorate and taught business and technology at both the high school and community college levels.

Aimee’s experience at the local level will be a key asset as Mississippi transitions to Perkins V and further expands CTE across the state. When asked why she transitioned to a role at the state level, Aimee explained that it was her “inner desire to take what she learned and help other districts.” 

“That’s what I have enjoyed so much about the job, I get to interact with CTE directors in the state and help them develop their own programs and initiatives.”

Looking ahead, Aimee and her team plans to leverage career academies and other promising CTE strategies to further support learners in Mississippi. While at Madison County, she saw that “these initiatives helped many of the students perform better in their subject areas,” as well as improved their discipline and attendance. 

Aimee’s team is also considering strategies to support a variety of learners, including underperforming students and students “in the middle” — those who are neither high-achieving nor at-risk. One potential lever is the new option for high school students in the class of 2022 to earn a CTE endorsement on their graduation diploma. This endorsement would be available to students who complete a CTE program; earn Silver Level on WorkKeys; and, either receive dual credits, participate in a work-based learning experience, or earn an industry-recognized credential. 

Over the next year, the team will also work to support the Mississippi Board of Education in developing a state strategic plan that aligns with Perkins and the specific industry needs of the state. For Aimee, a key component of this work will be ensuring equity and access to high-quality CTE across rural and urban populations.

Roger Barnes, An Example of Missouri’s Remarkable History of Developing CTE Champions

November 22nd, 2019

Roger Barnes retired in June 2019 after over three decades of working to support students across Missouri. A week later, he took over as Missouri’s new State CTE Coordinator. When asked why he decided to transition to the new role, Roger explained that he knew he “wasn’t ready to stop serving students.” 

Roger’s journey to his current position began similar to that of other CTE champions: as a CTE student. In high school, he was enrolled in his district’s local agricultural education program. After graduating, he went on to earn a four-year degree in agricultural mechanics but then decided to return home to work alongside his father on the family’s farm. During this time, Roger also began serving as a substitute teacher in the same agricultural program that had earlier supported his educational journey. Motivated to continue empowering more CTE students, Roger sought his teaching certification and worked his way up to becoming a high school principal. Later, he served as director of a local area career center and ultimately superintendent of a school district.

This experience at the district level allowed Roger to develop a deep insight into the effects of statewide systems and policies on students and teachers in the classroom. As a superintendent, he was invited to join Missouri’s CTE Advisory Council and collaborate with business leaders, policymakers and administrators across the state to inform the experiences of students in both rural and urban communities. 

In his first year as State CTE Coordinator, Roger plans to continue collaborating with the statewide CTE Council to develop a high school CTE certificate for the class of 2021. The expectation is that the certificate will help students signal to businesses their level of career readiness following graduation from the secondary level. In addition, Roger intends to develop state programs that support opportunities for teachers to obtain work-based learning and professional training.

“To me, our real bright spots are what our CTSOs are doing in the state,” Roger noted. 

Last year, Missouri saw 2 percent of its FFA students earn the American FFA degree — the highest degree an FFA member can receive — despite less than 0.5 percent of all FFA members nationwide earning this award. 

Recognizing the state’s history of developing leaders through CTE, Roger looks to continue uplifting students across the state to become Missouri’s next generation of CTE champions.

New Resources Available on Statewide Efforts to Boost Career Training

November 18th, 2019

Advance CTE has added new resources to the Learning that Works Resource Center that highlight recent state efforts to coordinate across systems and strengthen career readiness training. Delaware, for example, is building out its capacity to increase postsecondary attainment by scaling regional career pathways and work-based learning. Similarly, Rhode Island is leveraging its New Skills for Youth (NSFY) grant to restructure the state’s entire talent pipeline and strengthen connections across education and workforce systems. Since 2015, Rhode Island has seen a 56 percent increase in the number of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, a 38 percent increase in Advanced Placement course participation, and a tripling of the number of college credits earned by high school students. 

Massachusetts, another state that was awarded the NSFY grant, is also coordinating activities to significantly expand access to high-quality CTE programs. So far, increased investments in technical training equipment have led to a rapid expansion of the state’s career training capacity, resulting in more than 10,000 additional students enrolling in career training programs across Massachusetts. 

To learn more about these initiatives and related work, visit Advance CTE’s Resource Center

The Empire State Welcomes Amy Cox to State CTE Director Role

November 13th, 2019

Amy Cox recently took over as New York’s State CTE Director. Having managed both secondary and postsecondary state programs, she entered the position with strong leadership experience in statewide initiatives and a promising ability to helm the state’s CTE system. Prior to her current role, Amy spent over a decade at the New York State Office of Higher Education, where she worked on Teachers of Tomorrow, Race to the Top, Teacher Opportunity Corps and P-TECH. 

Amy’s list of priorities includes developing a comprehensive framework for work-based learning that is flexible across the state, as well as facilitating greater interdepartmental and stakeholder engagement to maximize programmatic effectiveness. 

With her experience at the intersections of CTE and various statewide initiatives, Amy is positioned to be a strong communicator across diverse stakeholder groups that have historically operated in silos. For example, she is currently strengthening bridges for collaboration between the secondary and postsecondary teams that are working on Perkins — with the goal being to develop a unified team. Looking across other departments and agencies in the state as well, Amy wants to stimulate deeper conversations on topics relating to CTE and encourage greater data transparency and sharing. 

At the programmatic level, Amy’s team will also work with the state’s Technical Assistance Center to assist local education agencies in developing approvable programs and expand access to CTE, working to ensure equitable access and support for underrepresented learners. Along with this work, her team is looking to build a comprehensive framework for work-based learning that is flexible and adaptive to regional needs in the state. 

Reflections on Perkins V Implementation Meetings

October 30th, 2019

Baby, It’s Bold Inside

Last year, within three months after the reauthorization of Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), Advance CTE partnered with the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) to host four regional Perkins V implementation meetings across the country to unpack the new law and help states get a jumpstart on their planning.

Building on interest from our members – and support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Joyce Foundation – we decided to host another round of three Perkins V implementation meetings, joined once again by our excellent partners. Over the course of three months, we brought together about 300 leaders from across 44 states and Washington, DC, along with invited national CTE and workforce development experts from over 20 partner organizations, including National Skills Coalition, National Governors Association, ExcelinEd, Council of Chief State School Officers, New America, Education Strategy Group and others, to help states:

  • Collaborate with peers from other states to share ideas and solutions on major strategies within their Perkins V state plans, with a focus on quality, equity, data, systems alignment and career advisement;
  • Work with their state team to review and strengthen their Perkins V plans based on input from national experts, peers and in-state stakeholder engagement; and
  • Leave with clear next steps for strengthening their Perkins V state plans to advance a statewide vision for CTE that is innovative, bold and prioritizes quality and equity.

At each meeting, states had the chance to present on their draft plans and strategies and get direct, actionable feedback from their peers and the invited partners. State leaders dug in deeply on issues including improving the quality of CTE programs/programs of study, closing equity gaps, leveraging the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment to drive local innovation and learner-focused programming, aligning CTE and workforce development, and meaningful engagement of key stakeholders, such as Tribal communities and employers.

It was truly inspiring to learn so much from states, see how BOLD they were willing to be and have the opportunity to give real-time input into states’ Perkins V plans!

Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director

*Photos courtesy of Bob Witchger

Maryland Welcomes Tiara Booker-Dwyer to Helm State CTE System

October 28th, 2019

Beginning her career as a researcher in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, Tiara Booker-Dwyer, Maryland’s new State CTE Director, has since built a remarkable career around improving educational success for learners in Maryland.

While at Hopkins, Tiara developed a passion for teaching and later went on to work at the middle school and high school levels. Leveraging her experience as a science teacher, Tiara continued supporting students through the Maryland Department of Education, where she led efforts to promote STEM under the Race to the Top initiative. While at the Department, she also served as the Executive Director for the Office of Leadership Development and School Improvement, as well as the Department’s 2016-2017 Ombudsman. 

A dynamic leader, Tiara entered her new role with a bold vision for CTE in Maryland. Among her priorities is to use Perkins funds over the next year to build a more inclusive CTE culture in the state. In addition, Tiara and her team are focused on supporting school counselors, teacher development and special populations of students.

Along with her deep history on the education side, Tiara spent two years as a program director for the Maryland Business Roundtable, where she supported collaboration between industry professionals and local schools districts. Leveraging this past work, Tiara is now collaborating with the business community to develop a professional counseling model to further support school counselors. 

“School counselors need more support. Maryland is proposing to use business and industry professionals to provide career counseling to CTE students.” 

Under the professional counseling model, groups of business professionals would be trained to go to schools and provide periodic career guidance to cohorts of students. This would provide students with valuable career insight opportunities while also allowing “school counselors to focus on mental health priorities and academic advising,” she said. 

Another focus for Tiara is around the professional growth of CTE teachers. “I recognize when we get CTE teachers from the field,” she explained, “they come in with the content and need support with pedagogy and classroom management. CTE teachers must be equipped with the skills, knowledge, and resources to meet the needs of all students, including English learners and students with disabilities.” To address this gap, Tiara is looking to provide CTE instructors from the field with professional learning experiences on differentiating instruction, using data to inform instructional interventions, engaging diverse learners and other forms of support to better enable them to be effective in preparing their students for a career field.

With strong support from state leadership, Tiara and her team are working to revitalize the state’s CTE system. Central to their vision for CTE in Maryland, she believes, is the opportunity to be bold.  

 

Long-time CTE leader, Angela Kremers, becomes Director of Arkansas’ Division of Career Technical Education

October 21st, 2019

In early 2019, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law a bill that restructured the state’s government, reducing the number of cabinet-level agencies from 42 to 15. As a result, Angela Kremers became the new Director of Arkansas’ Division of Career Technical Education, now housed within the Department of Education. 

With the government’s reorganization and her new role, Angela is facing new challenges and procedures, as well as the unique complexities of the state’s CTE system. But Angela sees long-awaited opportunity. 

“I am excited about the opportunity because we have such a perfect storm – we are on the precipice of change,” she said. Being within the department of education — along with higher education, which was moved there as well — “gives us greater capacity than we had before; the resources, the alignment, the conversations. When we talk about pathways, we all are discussing it under one roof, using similar language. I’m excited.”

Angela’s optimism isn’t purely based on good faith. She came into the position with a long-rooted background in CTE and related work. While in high school, she was actively involved in a career technical student organization (CTSO) and took on leadership positions, serving as a local and state officer and eventually being elected federation president. Following her time in the medical field, Angela served as a health sciences high school CTE teacher, then transitioned to the postsecondary side to support student articulation agreements. Later on, Angela served as a senior program associate at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, where she managed the foundation’s education portfolio and engaged in national conversations addressing systemic gaps across the education continuum.  

With her rich experience working to support students and CTE programs, Angela is set on  advancing Arkansas’ CTE system. She is focused on improving program of study quality, strengthening professional development opportunities for CTE teachers and building pathways in new and emerging fields, such as artificial intelligence and analytics.

“Catching up and getting to Perkins V speed is great, but we still have to be looking five, ten years down the road. We can’t just be playing catch up if we want to meet the needs of students, industry, and communities.”

New Hampshire Welcomes Eric Frauwirth to State CTE Helm

October 16th, 2019

Like many other leaders in CTE, Eric Frauwirth’s journey to his current role overseeing New Hampshire’s CTE program is truly unique. Originally from Massachusetts, Eric took what he describes as the ‘grand tour’ through CTE — traveling around the country teaching at the high school and postsecondary levels, then returning to Massachusetts to serve as the dean of CTE and business at a local community college. 

Eric sees his new role as an opportunity to update New Hampshire’s CTE system and make changes that will have lasting impacts. To accomplish this, Eric has been everything but a stranger to innovative ideas.

“Absolutely everything is on the table,” he said. 

One of Eric’s main priorities is to improve the way in which New Hampshire delivers CTE to better provide access and equity to students across the state. The state will be embarking on an effort to identify all possible delivery models – in addition to the current shared time centers – to provide more CTE programs to more learners. 

“We’re considering taking some of our non-lab CTEs — accounting, business, marketing — and instead of offering one of the courses at a regional center, we offer it at the five comprehensive high schools in the region. This would allow more students to be eligible while also freeing up space at the CTE centers to create more room for labs.” New Hampshire also recently received a $46 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand charter schools and Eric is considering how they might fit into the new CTE puzzle.

Fortunately for Eric, the state’s education commissioner is not only supportive of CTE but also is an out-of-the-box thinker who is willing to let Eric’s team be creative. For example, the CTE office is planning to purchase an RV, with the goal of converting it to a mobile classroom to travel around the state to build exposure and access to CTE. The RV will be equipped to carry out experiments as well as highlight the many programs in the different regions of the state. 

Eric’s team took this idea a few steps further by making it a competition among the CTE programs to design the mobile classroom’s wrap, using the theme “I am CTE.” CTE students will also paint the RV once the design is selected. The winners will get to see their work travel all across the state promoting CTE.

“We brought it to the commissioner and we expected the two outcomes to be either he throws us out of his office or he was going to love it. The first sentence out of his mouth was ‘can I drive it’.”

 

 

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