Strength Lies in Focus on Common Purpose as Montana Shares CTE Vision Journey

State Directors and Members, as we have been moving forward with the vision for Career Technical Education (CTE), several State Directors have shared with us a mix of implementation stories that been enlightening, fascinating, and moreover, we believe to be very useful to share with other State Directors as a wealth of information, loaded with ‘toolbox’ strategies to use as they make the journey within their own states.

Today we want to share Montana’s journey with you, provided by Kathy Wilkins, Perkins Accountability Specialist of the Montana University System.

Montana contemplated a number of ways to get the word out about the new vision. 

Advisory Council Identified: We identified our advisory council as the perfect vehicle for helping state staff get the word out and at the same time, further define their roles as state leaders of CTE.

Vision Video Provides Context: The council meeting was set up to first reflect on where CTE has been nationally and in the state using the PowerPoint presentation put together by NASDCTEc (Note from NASDCTEc Staff: this video can be accessed from  In the past we’ve skipped over this orientation to CTE and it was a mistake.  The council appreciated knowing more about the national CTE history and about Montana’s journey. 

 Advisory Council Acts: We then called the committee to action to transform and lead by dividing the 5 principles into 3 focus areas.  Committee members were then required to participate in a task force devoted to one of the 3 focus areas.  The initial purpose of the taskforce was to choose a future meeting time and date and select a chairperson.  We purposely left the focus group discussions until the end of the day and a limited amount of time, feeling like this would be an easy wrap up task. 

 What Made the Difference: We significantly underestimated the enthusiasm and brainstorming that went on.  In fact, the focus group discussions went way over the allotted time with the wrap up reports given after the meeting was over.  In previous council meetings, members were anxious to leave and often did not stay through the whole meeting.  We feel what made the difference was the focus on a common purpose and ability for each member to contribute.  These factors really engaged the council members.  We had set a goal for groups to meet at least once before the next council meeting in February of 2011.  The committees exceeded our expectations meeting numerous times and developing a number of action items for their groups to tackle.

Montana has experienced almost a complete restaffing on the postsecondary side which has stalled the process slightly but also gives the new staff a fantastic foundation.  As NASDCTEc informed you in a recent blog, Montana recently welcomed a new State Director, Dr. John Cech.

 Montana will keep states posted with our progress.  

Submitted by Kathy Wilkins, Perkins Accountability Specialist of the Montana University System. Ms. Wilkins can be reached at

 You can share your state’s vision journey too. Contact Member Services Manager Ramona Schescke for more information at


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