Welcoming Erskine Glover to New Jersey

May 21st, 2020

Erskine Glover started as New Jersey’s Director, Office of Career Readiness, in early 2020 and has already visited several school districts in the state to visit with administrators, instructors and learners to see how CTE is working for New Jersey. Erskine brings a breadth and depth of educational experience with him to this new position, having served as an educator in northern New Jersey for 24 years including as an assistant superintendent for a couple of years, school administrator for 14 years, and teacher for eight years. Erskine has spent the majority of his career in the K-8 landscape.  

Erskine has a passion for preparing current and future instructors for their roles as educators. He has supported their professional development, including helping to promote practices that support the emotional capital of educators for long-term careers, an issue that is prevalent during COVID-19. Additionally, Erskine has helped educators in delivering more project-based and blended learning education. While working for Newark Public Schools, the largest school district in the state, Erskine tapped into his systems thinking and systems design skill set to develop a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pathway for elementary school students that connected to the Career Technical Education (CTE) options at the district’s high schools, providing learners with early exposure to STEM while also setting them up for a seamless pathway throughout their education.

Looking ahead, Erskine is excited to work on partnerships between schools and industry, and to spark interest in CTE in younger learners. He is interested in using data to influence the delivery of high-quality and in-demand CTE across the state, as well as to promote equity in New Jersey’s CTE system.   

When Erskine is not working, he coaches youth soccer (he’s been coaching the same team for five years!) and practices sports photography for multiple outdoor sports. 

Melissa Hickey Brings Creative CTE Leadership to Connecticut

May 11th, 2020

Melissa Hickey is once again heading up Career Technical Education (CTE) at the Connecticut State Department of Education, where she has been working for the past four years. Melissa returns to this role while also serving as the Reading/Literacy Director for the state. She has held a number of education roles including beginning her education career as a second grade teacher, serving as a coach, science coordinator and district-level administrator.

Melissa brings creativity to her role, having recently partnered with the Department of Labor to host “Cuppa Joe Road Shows,” to connect business and industry representatives to educators and facilitate conversations between the two groups to both showcase and spark successful partnerships. Partnerships are key to how she approaches her work at the state level. In fact,  she created the Perkins leadership group which resulted in 2,500 people providing input into the Perkins V state plan via multiple online surveys and public hearings. Melissa strives to work across the many stakeholders that are necessary to make high-quality CTE possible, including the Department of Labor, Department of Economic Community Development, and business and industry, and even works to connect them to each other.  Top of mind for Melissa is working with business and industry as well as high school and community college leaders to engage in conversations to establish new industry recognized credentials.

There’s lots of change in Connecticut, as state staff turn towards implementing their Perkins state plan, and the recent change of Career Clusters in the state. However, in the coming months, Melissa and her small but mighty team are working to increase work-based learning opportunities and helping their colleagues across Connecticut provide high-quality and in-demand opportunities to learners.

 

Welcoming Henry Mack as Florida’s Chancellor for Career, Technical and Adult Education

March 12th, 2020

Henry Mack started as the Chancellor for Career, Technical and Adult Education in Florida in November 2019 and is approaching his new role with great thought and enthusiasm. Previously, Henry served as Vice President for Workforce Education and Innovation at Broward College in southeast Florida, ensuring alignment between the college’s academic programs and local market demands. Henry also taught undergraduate philosophy and religion at the University of Miami and at Florida International University, having studied philosophy and theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

The Florida Department of Education’s Division of Career and Adult Education is taking on a necessary but difficult task to ensure that learners, businesses, and the economy are benefiting from a robust Career Technical Education (CTE) system. They are in the midst of conducting an audit of its 1,200+ CTE programs to ensure they are aligned with high-growth, in-demand and high-wage employment opportunities. Using his background in liberal arts, however, Henry is looking forward to considering ways to better connect CTE with the traditional aims of a liberal arts education, such as education for democratic citizenship, cultural competence, critical thinking and mental agility. He is also looking forward to leveraging CTE as a means to address issues of access and economic and social inequities.

Looking ahead, Henry has big ideas for CTE in Florida. He’s excited to explore structural innovations in education, for example, considering different ways to integrate technical colleges into an education system, leverage technology to assist parents and learners in navigating potential career pathways, and promote practical and successful entrepreneurship across the state. Advance CTE is thrilled to support Henry in these endeavors! 

When he’s not on the job, Henry spends his time with his four-year-old daughter, two-year-old son and wife.

Dennis Harden “Running” CTE in Iowa

March 11th, 2020

Once the snow melts, Dennis Harden will be running the trails in Des Moines, Iowa. For now, he’ll have to stick to running the state’s Bureau of Career and Technical Education (CTE) as the new CTE Bureau Chief. 

Dennis comes to this role from Missouri, where he served as CTE Coordinator for two decades, working across several realms including guidance and counseling, equity and of course, Perkins planning. Dennis started his CTE career at the Missouri Department of Education, supervising a customized business and industry program. Dennis also spent four years working as the director of skilled technical sciences, health sciences and industrial technology.

In the coming years, Dennis is looking forward to getting the Iowa Perkins V plan across the finish line. He will also lead the team in continuing to work through the Future Ready Iowa initiative, a redesign of the state’s CTE programs that aims to improve access to high-quality CTE throughout the state by promoting regional planning partnerships and aligning CTE programs to in-demand occupations. Dennis and his team will consider how they can best help educators implement changes as part of the initiative. The Iowa bureau of CTE is also working on a statewide communications plan, which they developed as part of their work on the grant, Strategies to Attract Students to High-quality CTE, with the help of Advance CTE staff.

While Dennis is certainly not a new member of Advance CTE, we are so excited to welcome Dennis to this new role leading CTE in Iowa!

100 Years of Advancing CTE: Pradeep Kotamraju Commends Advance CTE’s Leadership in CTE

February 26th, 2020

We are celebrating 100 years of Advance CTE! Throughout the year, we’ll feature interviews with past State CTE Directors, Board of Directors members, partners, CTE leaders and more. This month, learn more about how Pradeep Kotamraju, Division Director, Career and College Transition Division, California Department of Education, former Board of Directors President, views CTE’s past and future.

When did you begin working in CTE and how did you become affiliated with Advance CTE?
My work in CTE started in 2001, focusing on the data and accountability. During this time, I was a part of the National Leadership Institute and their priority was centered around CTE. Although I had heard about Kimberly Green [Executive Director of Advance CTE] several times before, I really did not get involved with Advance CTE until around 2004 — when I essentially was placed in charge of running Perkins in Minnesota.

Since then, I have worked with Advance CTE in various capacities: as a State CTE Director, member of the Board of Directors and as Board President. I also participated in the reconfiguration of the organization from the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium to what is known as today, Advance CTE.

What was the shape of CTE in the early 2000s and how has the field evolved since?
I think CTE is in a much better place since that time. It was still thought of as something on the side. Keep in mind that around then, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) reared its head and that sort of took up a lot of oxygen. As a result of that, discussions around CTE at the state policy level became very difficult. The only place we had some meaningful discussions was at Advance CTE.

CTE was seen as a separate system. There were some movements to have it included in larger state efforts but that really did not come about until Perkins IV. To a large extent, CTE at that time, I would argue, was really focused only on Perkins. What Advance CTE has really done a great job on is moving the discussion away from Perkins and to talking about CTE outside of funding.

How has Advance CTE’s role evolved since you initially came across the organization to when you were president of the board?
Advance CTE’s role has evolved like everything else in CTE, and you have to commend Kimberly for her leadership and effort to grow the organization along with the times. I would say one of the most important things Advance CTE did was essentially move the discussion away from Perkins as a funding source or program to looking at it as a strategy towards something – whether it is high school graduation, acquiring certain skills or moving to postsecondary or workforce. This shift really broadened the scope of discussions centered on CTE.

The other thing I think that Advance CTE contributed to is, we now talk about other federal and state legislation, and we also talk about postsecondary. Early on in my career, I worked on the postsecondary side and at this time postsecondary kind of felt like an outsider because there were very few discussions regarding this component of the system. But Kimberly and others made tremendous strides to be inclusive of the postsecondary side. In fact, the last few meetings that I went to I did not feel the distinction between the secondary and postsecondary.

Lastly, in the early days, Advance CTE focused exclusively on State Directors. That focus is still there but now there are also many other associate members, members from community-based organizations who see the value in CTE and have been included in the collective effort to strengthen its benefits to students.

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.

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. 

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.”

 

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