In September, Laura Arnold was named Kentucky’s State CTE Director, and her path to becoming State Director can be drawn directly back to the many Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers, role models and advisers who encouraged and supported her along the way.
“The CTE world is like a family and really supports students,” Arnold said. “It just shows the importance of teachers in the lives of kids and how they shape students not only in high school but also professionally.”
As a high school student in Kentucky, Arnold served as the state president of the Future Homemakers of America, now known as the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. After graduation, she earned a home economics degree from the University of Kentucky and soon after, took her first job teaching middle school Family and Consumer Science. Six years later, Arnold received an education leadership certificate and served as a principal at one of the state’s area technology centers for about five years.
In 2011, one of her fellow principals, Dale Winkler, became the State Director and asked Arnold to join him at the Kentucky Department of Education. From 2011-2015, Arnold worked in a variety of roles including, as a curriculum manager and Division director for the 53 state-operated area technology centers.
When Winkler left the state in 2015, Arnold was tapped to serve as the interim State Director, and continued in that role until being officially named to the position in September 2016.
Arnold is a key player in the state’s New Skills for Youth initiative. Kentucky was recently awarded $2 million to continue its efforts to strengthen and expand career education pathways for students. Check out this snapshot of the state’s initial work.
Moving forward, the state is examining how it might shift its delivery of K-12 CTE to a regional approach that lets school districts and area technology centers collaborate in order to provide more access to quality programs. This major shift would also require new partnerships and approaches to funding.
“I think we have to think outside of the box, and do things differently than we ever have before,” Arnold said.
Andrea Zimmermann, Senior Associate for Member Engagement and Leadership Development