ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
Platt Tech and Abbott Tech meet Vigo, Spain and Guangdong, China
The Connecticut Technical High School system prides itself on innovation, diversity, and broadening its cultural and technical horizons. We understand at the building and district levels that CTE is a global market, and we can all learn from one another. For this reason, we continuously seek out and take advantage of opportunities to network and partner with our international counterparts so we can not only learn what others are doing in the CTE fields, but also to showcase what we do here in Connecticut. One of our district’s tenets is that we want to be “The Best Career Technical Education System in the Country,” and we understand that reaching that goal depends on how much we learn from others globally, and how we utilize that knowledge to help us grow. In this article, I will highlight two experiences, of which I had the privilege of being a part, where the CT Technical High School System collaborated internationally.
In April of 2016, Platt Technical High School located in Milford, CT, had the unique and eye opening opportunity to host a visit from three women who were CTE instructors from the IES Politecnico in Vigo, Spain. Ms. Maria Theresa, Ms. Maria Jones, and Ms. Antonia Garcia were able to meet with Platt Tech’s administrative team, as well as many students and teachers as they toured the school and observed our trade technologies and students at work. Vigo is an industrial town near the northeastern coast of Spain. There are approximately 300,000 people who live in the city. Vigo’s vocational school system, including IES Politecnico, is renowned, offering programs that allow students to enter the workforce, attend university, or continue to pursue their CTE field after graduation. The instructors from Spain came to CTHSS to learn about our school and programs, and see CTE in action by watching our students build, create, and innovate. In turn, Platt Tech was able to gain insight into what CTE programs look like in Vigo, Spain. It was a mutually beneficial and enlightening experience.
The second opportunity of which I was a part came in the fall of 2016 at Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury, CT. Scholars from Guangdong, which is a coastal province of southeast China bordering Hong Kong and Macau, came to Abbott Tech to tour our school and speak with our instructors and students about what CTE looks like in Connecticut. The Guangdong scholars were treated to a delicious lunch in Henry Abbott Tech’s “Thyme Café,” and then were given a tour of our building and CTE facilities where they met with students and faculty to gain knowledge about what we do here. Many of Abbott’s students made gifts for the Guangdong visitors and showcased the projects they were working on in their career technologies. The Guangdong scholars were very complimentary of the work we are doing at Abbott Tech, and the overall mission of CTE in the Connecticut Technical High School System. Through a translator, Guangdong students were able to share some of what they do in CTE with our teachers and students; the reciprocal collaboration was inspiring.
In each instance, CT Technical High School students and faculty were exposed to CTE internationally, and were able to see that Technical Education is of global prestige and importance. We were able to share ideas and practices with the instructors from Spain and scholars from Guangdong, and in turn they shared with us valuable resources and information regarding how CTE plays an important role in their countries and cultures. By ensuring we have access to global applications of CTE, and collaborate internationally, we can continue to provide a holistic and rich CTE experience for our students and teachers.
Submitted by: Jayme Beckham, Assistant Principal at Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury, CT
Posted by Educators in Action at 03:00 PM | Permalink
From the early controversial cloning of animals to the recent developments that allow the brain to fully control robotic limbs, biotechnological advances are a clear indication of the role technology plays in furthering medicine. The same pattern is holding true for career and technical education (CTE).
In general, enhanced application of technologies in STEM fields are driving a greater demand for qualified specialists in some areas more than others. In particular, the application of technology in medicine has produced some of the greatest breakthrough discoveries of recent years that have saved countless lives and provided a higher quality of life for many. Specialization, however, requires competency, and no other segment of education is better able to provide competency-based education than CTE.
The unraveling of discoveries afforded through biotechnologies is reflected in the competency-based program offerings in CTE. Numerous CTE institutions either have taken steps—or are currently pursuing—ways to streamline health and technology programs consistent with the labor market to ensure the preparation of a qualified workforce. As the demand for a qualified workforce in STEM fields continues to rise, CTE is responding appropriately by supplying competent individuals to meet that demand. In fact, CTE institutions (spurred by legislation in many states) are encouraged to attract students in areas with most growth and foster work-based learning relationships with businesses in those industries.
The impact of biotechnology is dramatically changing how CTE is delivering competencies in health sciences. The matching of school and work activities is preparing students to sharpen their skills in college and/or apply them in career employment. Regardless of the direction students pursue, the growing breadth and depth of student competencies in biotechnology is only going to increase their opportunities for employment in health science fields as the applications for biotechnologies become virtually limitless.
Submitted by Indrit Vucaj Graduate Teaching Assistant School of Teaching and Curriculum Leadership College of Education Oklahoma State University Stillwater, Oklahoma
Posted by Educators in Action at 09:30 AM | Permalink
My name is Tommy Hamilton and I am the 2017 ACTE Fellow for the Business Education Division. When they told me I was going to have a mentor, I thought, “Great, another micromanager to steer me to the finish line.” But as it turns out, the word “mentor” can be both a noun and a verb.
Rich Flotron was a Fellow last year. This year, he is my mentor (noun). He will mentor (verb) me this year as I learn educational leadership. As I spoke with Rich, I began to form a picture of who he is and what his passions are. I did this before I looked at his photo, to see if I could match the persona and the face. Once again, it was a big no. This further reinforces my belief that book covers do not reflect what is actually inside them. As educators, it is incumbent upon us to always remember the book cover is not the same as the inside.
I have been in public education for a total of three years. I have also taught for the Federal Government. The majority of my time, though, was spent in industry, and I am rapidly discovering that there is a growing population of industry folks transitioning into education. Rich told me of his diverse background, of his family, and especially of his love of educational leadership. Ruining my perceptions again, Rich told me of his passion for education. What he said did not do justice for what I heard. What I heard was passion, drive, and real dedication, inspired by the desire to make a real difference.
The next thing I know, I am using that thing we call critical thinking. Oops. Here we go. ACTE is an organization where Rich and I and people like us get to expand our horizons. Perhaps make a networking contact, or even a friend for life. More importantly, ACTE allows us to move outside our sphere of influence to see how “other people” do this thing we call education. Then it dawned on me. Mentors are guides for the areas where we have little or no experience. As it turns out, I don’t know everything, and I do need a mentor (noun) to mentor (verb) me. Someone somewhere chose Rich for me. After talking to him on the phone, I feel certain a better selection could not have been made.
Tommy HamiltonBusiness Education DivisionMoore Norman Technology CenterNorman, OK
Posted by Educators in Action at 08:00 AM in ACTE Fellows | Permalink
Have you ever had a conversation with somebody that seemed curiously timely? I just had one of these conversations when I spoke with my mentor, Rachael Mann. Despite it being only February, this year has presented itself with several challenges that left me questioning why I am in education. As we began talking, I quickly realized that her fresh perspective was something I needed to hear. Throughout our conversation, I was reminded of two simple truths about working in education.
Try to say yes to new experiences. Anything you try can lead to something new. New opportunities will come your way and it's easy to just say no, but where is the fun in that? You never know where an opportunity will lead you and who you will meet. These experiences can transform your career by allowing you to expand your network or learn a new skill. Rachael and I talked about how neither of us were active in ACTE in our first years of teaching, but each recently decided to become more active. It was exciting to her that through her involvement, Rachael found herself growing as an education leader, and has begun making an impact on her local community. We encourage our students to say yes, so we must heed our own advice and be open to trying something new as well.
Remember what you're in it for. We all went into education to make a difference in the lives of students. It is easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day activities of teaching, but we need to remember the students we have made an impact on. It was refreshing to exchange stories with Rachael of students we have positively influenced and reflect on why we do what we do. I was particularly impressed with her anecdote of reaching a student already written off by other educators, and hearing that this student has now grown into a successful professional and advocate for CTE. Remember that the students you see in front of you are tomorrow's success stories.
At the end of our conversation, Rachael asked me a question I was not fully prepared to answer. "What do you want out of this mentorship?" My reply was a jumbled mess of incomplete sentences, with an apology in the middle for sounding more negative than I intended. But, by the end, I realized that I wanted someone to talk about the simple truths of our profession, and someone able to give me honest feedback about new ideas. Rachael agreed, and I look forward to working with a newfound colleague and mentor.
Robert Van DykeRegion VColorado Community CollegeDenver, CO
Posted by Educators in Action at 08:00 AM in ACTE Fellows | Permalink
It has been a pleasure to work with my mentor, Mr. Patrick Biggerstaff, who serves as the Director of Area 31 Career Center in Indianapolis. Patrick is a former ACTE Region III Fellow and was recently elected as the VP-Administration Elect for ACTE.
Patrick is very passionate about Career & Technical Education (CTE) and has been in Administration for 5 years following his time as a business teacher. During our discussion, Patrick provided a great deal of information regarding his ride on the CTE train, and I have summarized his knowledge below, in “Three Keys to Success in CTE.” 1. Network, Network, Network Networking plays a huge role in what we do as CTE educators. The relationship-building that takes place, when done right, can lead to opportunities for not only educators, but all of the stakeholders that we serve. A good mentor is key in networking, as they are able to connect you with a variety of individuals who can assist you on your professional journey in education, as well as provide opportunities for the students you serve. Patrick shared that networking and strong mentors have provided a plethora of personal growth opportunities for both him and his stakeholders. 2. Always Be Flexible In order to be successful in CTE, flexibility is critical. Every day in education brings its challenges and rewards. However, having the ability to build a strong network and having good mentors and colleagues is what will get you through the tough times. Sometimes we are called on to diffuse situations, find replacement teachers in the middle of a school year, serve as the dishwasher in the culinary arts kitchen, and even do a little substitute teaching to fill a need. We typically cannot control everything that takes place on any given day, and we also cannot always control the decisions that are made at the local, state, and national levels. BUT, we can remain flexible and consistently be good advocates of education who lead by example. 3. Hard Work Pays Off The rewards will come when the work is put in. You should not expect magic overnight, but with good mentors, consistent follow-through, and a supportive team of colleagues, not only will you be rewarded, but you will be respected by your peers and students. This respect creates a nice place to work and a feeling of accomplishment. The best reward for Patrick is being encouraged by the success of his students and staff.
Mari SwayneRegion IIIMetropolitan School District of Pike TownshipIndianapolis, IN
Links to Helpful Mentoring Articles/Resources for Teachers & Administrators http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may99/vol56/num08/The-Good-Mentor.aspx
My mentor for the 2017 ACTE Fellows program is Shelly Rust, Advanced Culinary Arts and Baking Pastry Instructor at the Kokomo Area Career Center in Kokomo, Indiana. She is a 2014 ACTE Fellow and is currently the Indiana ACTE President.
Like me, Shelly came into the Career Tech arena from the restaurant industry. She has spent 28 years in the restaurant industry, getting her start when she was only 14 years old, and has been teaching Culinary courses for the past 11 years. In that time, her program at Kokomo Area Career Center has grown from 13 students to 146 students.
Her mom has been a big influence in obtaining her dream job of teaching. According to her mother, Shelly began insisting that she wanted to be a teacher when she was only three years old. James Little, with Career Tech, has also been a big influence on her decision to teach.
She belongs to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), and encourages her students and other culinary students to get involved in the association. She is involved with the Indiana Association for Career and Technical Education, and is currently serving as President.
She enjoys reading about Career Technical Education, Restaurant News, and Smart Brief. Staying current on these topics improves her knowledge of the business side of the restaurant industry. Smart Brief covers interview skills, information she passes on to her students.
Shelly loves to see the passion in students’ eyes when they are engaged in the culinary arts. She knows that in some ways, technology is replacing student hands in the industry, which frustrates her.
Though she enjoyed her journey to success, if she were to do it all over again, she believes she could have gained more knowledge, as well as worked harder to teach her students work ethics, an area they are lacking in.
If her job were suddenly eliminated, Shelly knows that she could use her skills anywhere in the hospitality industry. Her managerial skills could bring her success in a variety of industries, particularly in a medical office.
Networking is an important skill that Shelly possesses. She enjoys networking with other culinary teachers around the globe. She seeks them out and observes how they teach different skills in their classroom. She then applies these skills to the students in her classroom at the Career Tech Center.
She feels students in Career Tech are lucky because they have different educational options in today’s environment. Before Career and Technical Education, she saw that students weren’t taught any life skills to apply to their daily lives.
Making sure that government recognizes the importance of Career and Technical Education in student’s lives is a challenge we need to address. Giving up on just one student cannot be an option when they have skills to invest.
The main challenge Shelly faces today is reaching her leadership goals and challenging herself to change up the culinary curriculum that she teaches. She is always challenging herself to teach in a different and better way to reach all students.
“The Association of Career and Technical Education offers a lot of professional development to make myself better and improve my impact that I have on my students,” said Shelly. “My thoughts on attending the National Policy Seminar is to apply ourselves and keep the students in the forefront of all our conversations.”
Ernie GomezOK PACE DivisionMoore Norman Technology CenterOklahoma City, OK
As part of their program of work for the National Leadership Fellowship Program, the 2017 ACTE Fellows share their reflections on their experiences connecting with their new program mentors. Read each fellow's post by clicking on their photo below!
"Multiple Paths Lead to CTE"
"My New, Old Mentor"
"Three Keys to Success in CTE"
"Meeting My Mentor"
"The Heart of the Matter"
"A Timely Mentor"
"I Already Know Everything, I Need a Mentor Too?"
"Excited for the Adventure Ahead"
"Meeting with my Fellowship Mentor"
Learn more about ACTE's National Leadership Fellowship Program here.
Posted by Educators in Action at 08:00 AM in ACTE Fellows | Permalink
My conversations with Dr. Wider began at the EBS during the summer of 2016. I met her when I signed up for ACTE. She was so enthusiastic about the organization, and helped me understand the value of being a part of SCACTE and my division. I attended the reception during the EBS and had the opportunity to network with many other members of SCACTE. This experience gave me the opportunity to hear the benefits of SCACTE.
Listening to Dr. Wider inspired me, and I began to do my own research about the organization I had recently joined. I went on the website and began to seek out opportunities. Dr. Wider and I stayed in touch, and she became a valuable resource for advice regarding leadership paths and my participation within SCACTE.
I was fortunate to have Dr. Wider as my mentor even before the ACTE Fellowship program made it official. We discussed several months ago the endless opportunities and rich experiences that could be gained by obtaining ACTE membership. She offered me advice and enthusiastic support, and I ran with it. I believe that all things are possible, and if there is an opportunity to be had that will help me become a better leader, educator, and overall person, I am all in.
I was honored when I received the email informing me I was selected to participate in the ACTE Fellowship Program, and the sense of honor has not diminished since. Dr. Wider was ecstatic to hear I was selected, and we began discussing the role of leadership and my representation of the Region II Division.
We discussed how leadership is an incredibly important role and it takes a person with an open heart and open mind to be a successful leader. Dr. Wider shared her experience as a past fellow and encouraged me to make the best of my fellowship experience. We reviewed the program of work, she helped me with ideas for blogs, and then invited me to our SCACTE state board meeting. I am honored to have Dr. Wider as my mentor and I am looking forward to working with her throughout this process and beyond.
Monica BrisbonRegion IICarolina Forest High SchoolMyrtle Beach, SC
“How did your career path lead to career-technical education?” That’s one of the most interesting questions I discussed with my new ACTE Fellowship Mentor, Nicole Lord. Our backgrounds are similar; we didn’t start out in education, but somehow ended up on the same path.
Nicole is from Michigan and has a background in business management. I’m from Ohio (Go Buckeyes!) and started out in communications, but somehow we both ended up with careers in career-technical education. Nicole’s love of CTE and students started as a cheerleading coach. Although she enjoyed the business world, she felt she was making a real impact with students, and that’s what motivated her to pursue her career in education.
Growing up, my mother was a career-tech teacher, but I never imagined my career would lead to education. I started out working in communications, until something brought me back to wanting to work with students and helping them change their lives through education. Not only does career-tech prepare our students for careers, but also for the real world and being successful in their chosen career field and in life!
So do we regret that we started out on different paths than most educators? Nicole told me that if she had the opportunity, she would do it the same way again. Her background in business has helped her become a successful career-tech administrator. I have to agree. My background in communications has been invaluable in working with all of the career center and college partners I serve. Our various experiences have been invaluable to our careers and the students we serve daily.
As we look to our career-tech teachers and administrators for inspiration and new ideas, we must always ask ourselves what skills and training they bring in from their careers that can help us motivate and train our students and staff. Do they have an untapped skillset that could lead to a new professional development opportunity for staff, or a new project for our students? We sometimes only look at our coworkers and staff in their current role, but they may have more to share than we know!
Carrie ScheidererRegion ICentral Ohio Technical CollegeNewark, OH
What makes a leader? Is it an acquired set of skills? Or, perhaps, a long list of accolades? Some may believe it comes from the hours put in to a project or a career. While all of these contribute to a great employee or project coordinator, I would argue these qualities are not what make a great leader.
To identify what makes a great leader, one must look at the heart of the matter. This is the answer: a great leader has heart. This became clear to me during a recent discussion I had with Arkansas’s ACTE Past President, Ross White.
Ross’ background in education, career development, and DECA equips him well for involvement with ACTE. He has the degrees needed to excel in the field. He has all the right professional memberships, and reads all the recommended journals. Clearly, his resume is impressive, but that is not what makes Ross a leader.
What makes Ross a great leader, and a valued mentor during my ACTE fellowship year, is his heart. When our discussion turned to why he selected education, with career education as a focus, it became clear what motivates his drive to be an ACTE leader. His heart for CTE comes from those who have influenced his past: a former teacher, and a mother whom he admired in the classroom.
When discussing the frustrations and disappointments associated with CTE and education in general, it is clear that Ross’s heart is in his job. He is motivated to rise above the red tape, politics, lack of understanding of CTE, and the competition from core classes. A love for what he does as a DECA advisor keeps his focus clear.
The heart of the matter is that Ross cares enough to fulfill the requirements of a leader, and then to go above and beyond the call of duty. Mentoring others and putting in work to ensure a dedicated reputation is what will change the vocational view of CTE. So what’s the heart of the matter for you? May we all care enough to do more, and encourage others to do more as well. Perhaps that’s what makes those of us involved with ACTE so special. We have heart!
Michelle CampRegion IVMaumelle High SchoolMaumelle, AR
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