Welcome to Utah’s New State CTE Director, Thalea Longhurst!

We are pleased to welcome Thalea Longhurst, Utah’s new State CTE Director! Longhurst had an unusual introduction to the education field, beginning her career in sports medicine. While obtaining a master’s degree and working in a clinic, a local school district expressed interest in starting a sports medicine program. Longhurst started by teaching just a few hours a day, which eventually turned into a 10-year part-time teaching tenure at the local high school. Utah has the unique ability to license industry professionals to teach in the classroom, allowing her to practice sports medicine professionally, while also teaching part time.

After 10 years, Longhurst decided to dedicate her career to education and took a full-time position. After working in the district to develop standards and assessments, she transitioned to the State CTE office and rose through the ranks to her eventual appointment as State CTE Director in 2014.

As State Director, her primary goal for CTE in Utah is to take a hard look at what programs are outdated or are not aligned to the workforce needs of the state and ensure only the highest quality programs are supported moving forward. “CTE should be a part of a comprehensive approach to education that is rigorous, not less than any other type of study and is an integral part to every student’s education,” said Longhurst.

A challenge in building and supporting these high-quality programs of study has been engaging the right partners in program development. To create a program that not only focuses on high academic and technical achievement, but also provides learners with the skills employers in the community needs, the Utah CTE office has been bringing multiple partners to the table, including local industry, business, economic development agencies, workforce services, educators, and parents among others. Although engaging each partner, in addition to aligning expectations of success across these sectors, has been challenging, Longhurst is convinced this effort will strengthen the quality of Utah’s CTE programs of study.

Under Longhurst, Utah is working towards the goal of every student equipped with 21st century college- and career-ready skills with access to high-quality programs of study that are directly aligned with industry needs. Be on the lookout for exciting work happening in Utah.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate 

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