2007 ACTE Annual Convention and Career Tech Expo a Huge Success

More than 6,000 people attended the Association for Career and Technical Education’s (ACTE) Annual Convention and Career Tech Expo in Las Vegas December 13-15. A wide array of exciting sessions and workshops gave attendees a professional development experience that they won’t soon forget in a city that is anything but forgettable. The event began December 12 with three pre-Convention workshops that were well attended, and a sampling of members participated in a tour of the newly opened Northwest Career and Technical Academy. When things got under way December 13, it began with a video welcome from Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and an exciting Opening General Session presentation by author and educator Ruby Payne (listen to the podcast recorded before the Convention), who shared her insights on working with children living in poverty. The Annual Convention included other high-profile speakers such as Friday General Session presenter Emily Stover DeRocco, assistant secretary of labor for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, and Closing General Session presenter Erik Weihenmayer (listen to the podcast recorded before the Convention), the first blind man in history to reach Mount Everest’s summit. More than 230 exhibitors jammed the Career Tech Expo floor showcasing a wide array of products, services and workshops. To be sure this was an exciting Annual Convention—one of the best we’ve ever had.

If you were unable to attend the Convention this year, there are a number of ways you can still benefit from the learning and networking that happened in Las Vegas. ACTE has compiled all the session handouts and PowerPoint presentations that speakers sent to us. A quick look through these will give you a good idea of what was hot on the minds of career and technical educators.

If you are more of a visual learner, check out the ACTE photo gallery and the montage video that was made on site by local high school students. In addition, for the first time, ACTE asked an attendee to share her experiences through the Convention blog. Check it out what Jody’s Convention was like. And, if you are looking to plan to attend the 2008 Annual Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, December 4-6, look at the 2007 program book to get an idea of what you can expect.

The 2008 Call for Presentations is currently open and accepting sessions. If you would like to present a session in Charlotte, please submit a proposal. The deadline is March 7. Below is a quick review of the 2007 ACTE Annual Convention and Career Tech Expo. Please keep checking this site for information on the 2008 Convention.

Northwest Career and Technical Academy—a School to Behold
Some lucky members got an opportunity December 12 to tour the Northwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas. Nestled in Clark County, the $88 million state-of-the-art facility offers students cutting-edge technology and professional training in six programs: engineering and design, construction management, hospitality, medical professions, transportation technology, and teacher education/early childhood. The school seeks to “boldly educate today’s learners for tomorrow’s challenges by developing advanced skills through unique hands-on experiences in a professional setting.” And it does just that with an excited staff, a new eco-friendly facility, and a curriculum that covers core subject areas while emphasizing project-based, hands-on learning. The school facility includes a commercial-sized kitchen, and an automotive lab where students build solar-powered vehicles, learn about alternative fuels—such as hybrid electric, bio-diesel, hydrogen and natural gas—in addition to basic operating systems and robotics. In January, solar-powered cars built by the students were raced during the school’s “Solar Car Challenge,” which gave the community an opportunity to see the vehicles in action while they learn about solar energy.

Ruby_web.jpgRuby Payne Speaks About Children Living in Poverty

All across the United States, hundreds of thousands of children live in poverty. Ruby Payne, who has worked as a teacher, administrator and consultant, told Annual Convention attendees on December 13 that educators can become integral agents of change by empowering the less fortunate with the education and training they need to transition from poverty. In 2003, there were 7.6 million families living in poverty in America—up from 6.4 million in 2000. Regardless of race or ethnicity, children in these communities are much more likely to suffer from developmental delay, drop out of high school, and become parents in their teens. Teachers’ ability to understand the hidden rules of class and how it affects students’ language, thought, social interaction and cognitive strategies, Payne said, is integral to helping them successfully teach disadvantaged students. She noted that while the traditional education system works well for students from middle and upper class families, it does not work as well for disadvantaged youth—in particular, minority males. Children from these communities tend to prosper in environments that are built around relationships. Their wealthier contemporaries, meanwhile, prosper in a more competitive environment in which relationships are less important and achievement becomes the focus. Since relationships are singularly important for disadvantaged children, a good relationship with a teacher can make the difference between success and failure. It may inspire students to become engaged in the learning process—and education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Payne notes in her book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, that there is a clear link between achievement and language. Disadvantaged children rely on nonverbal and reactive skills in order to survive, but to thrive in school one must have verbal, abstract and proactive skills—skills that many disadvantaged youth lack. In order to ensure student success, schools need to help them acquire the language skills necessary to prosper in education. Payne added that she values career and technical education (CTE) because it helps students plan—and planning is key for them to successfully negotiate the world and ensure a better future. CTE is vital, she said, because it can help provide students with the education and relationships they need to transition into successful careers and further education.

DOL’s DeRocco Makes a First Appearance at Annual Convention

Advances in technology and communication have transformed the American workforce presenting a number of challenges, including steep competition from countries such as China and India. Education and job training programs that address the needs of businesses are vital if the U.S. is to maintain its competitive edge, said the U.S. Department of Labor’s Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco. She made a presentation at ACTE’s Annual Convention on December 14, noting that the nation’s job training programs must meet the needs of businesses so that they have the highly skilled workers necessary for success in a global economy. More than ever, education is key to maintaining that advantage; but the specter of 30 percent of ninth-graders not graduating from high school, and fewer than half of those who attend college graduating with a degree, poses a particular challenge for businesses and the nation. DeRocco’s department, responsible for managing an $11.1 billion budget for the U.S. public workforce investment system, has been developing innovative programming designed to build up pipelines of skilled workers in high growth areas such as health care and technology. With grant funding from Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED), some innovative CTE programs are helping to bolster their local economies by giving students the technical and academic skills they need to succeed in the 21st century workplace. DeRocco notes that these WIRED programs are a perfect example of CTE at its best.

“It is through WIRED that we’ve had some truly impressive innovative approaches to CTE,” she said. The challenge is in getting more CTE programming to follow WIRED’s path in addressing the different learning styles of young people, while preparing them for education and training that is aligned and responsive to industry, she said.

Weihenmayer_web.jpgWeihenmayer Talks About Overcoming Challenges

Flourishing in the face of adversity is possible if you have a vision and an indomitable spirit. You can move mountains, or climb them, by becoming a pioneer in your journey in life—just ask Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind man in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest. At age 13 he became blind just as he was about to start high school. But instead of letting his spirit be crushed by his new challenges, he crossed conventions to do what many said was unthinkable for a blind person—rock climbing. Weihenmayer got involved with a group teaching rock climbing to blind children, and discovered a passion for the sport that would take him onto new heights. When he made his first ascent rock climbing he felt an excitement that he’d never felt before.

“It was so exhilarating and vibrant it was almost painful,” he said, and the experience began a lifelong love affair that would take him to some of the world’s most exotic locations—from Antarctica to South America—and, in 2001, straight into the record books when he made his ascent up Mount Everest. The driving force behind his success is a principle that can be adopted by anyone to overcome challenges—we must have a vision that becomes our guiding compass in life. For Weihenmayer, a former middle school teacher and wrestling coach, the issue isn’t about climbing mountains, it’s about overcoming challenges.

“I take crazy risks and bring them under control,” he said. He urged Annual Convention attendees to find a way to overcome their adversities by creating a roadmap for their lives, getting a good team of support around them, and developing a system that leads to solutions.

Awards Recognition

Career and technical educators were honored for their achievements at ACTE’s Annual Convention on December 14. A number of awards were given out, including those for Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Teacher in Community Service, Outstanding New Career and Technical Teacher, the Carl Perkins Humanitarian Award, Outstanding Career and Technical Profession, and the Award of Merit.

cev.gifAwards presentation sponsor CEV Multimedia provided an inspiring video to honor all of the nominees.

JudyBrown.jpgTeacher of the Year

Judy Brown, of Madison, Alabama, is the ACTE 2008 Teacher of the Year. Brown was one of three finalists vying for the national title—an award that recognizes a teacher who provides outstanding CTE programs for youth and/or adults.

“To all the career tech educators out there,” she said, “this award is for you.” Brown joined Bob Jones High School (BJHS) in 1999, and she established the Culinary Arts Academy in 2003. Brown works with local chefs, restaurant and hotel managers to provide students with an accurate vision of what to expect in the real world. She implements career awareness and job skill training by using hands-on strategies in her lesson plans, and by incorporating team-teaching with biology, physical education, Spanish, history, and computer science. The Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Division recognized her program as Alabama’s Best Practice and Career and Technical Program of the Year for 2005-2006. Brown teaches culinary arts and hospitality classes, and she serves as the CTE department chair for BJHS and two middle schools. Elementary schools in the Madison City and Huntsville City school systems arrange field trips for children to learn about culinary careers and participate in hands-on projects with culinary students at BJHS. Brown also started a nighttime community culinary class for adults. She was the recipient of the first National FCCLA Integration of Core Academics Award in 2006.

JoanAnderson.jpgOutstanding Teacher in Community Service

Joan Anderson, of Eureka, South Dakota, was named the ACTE 2008 Outstanding Teacher in Community Service. The award recognizes teachers with significant accomplishments and outstanding leadership in programs and activities that promote community involvement.

Anderson teaches at Eureka Junior High School and Eureka High School, and she is the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) adviser. Anderson and her students have completed more than 100 community service projects from September 2005 through September 2007. These projects include: Health Rocks, Healthy Snack Vending Machine, Healthy Lifestyles, Cancer Awareness and Milk Project—all aimed at improving the lifestyles of the students and the community. Last July, Anderson won the 2007 FCCLA National Middle School Community Service Award for the Healthy Snacks project and the 2007 FCCLA National Middle School Student Body Award for the Healthy Lifestyle community service project. Eureka students start participating in service projects in the seventh grade and continue through high school. Each year students partake in a community service unit, and they perform tasks such as designing cards, reading to elementary students and assisted-living residents, and performing skits for children. During the ninth grade, students watch “Pay It Forward,” and students select a small service project, with a minimum requirement of one hour per month. The projects help Anderson’s students understand the value of helping others and giving back to the community.

MarkRaines.jpgOutstanding New Career and Technical Teacher

Mark Raines, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was named the ACTE 2008 Outstanding New Career and Technical Teacher. The award recognizes a teacher who has made significant contributions toward innovative, unique and novel programs and has shown a professional commitment early in his or her career. Raines is the television production teacher at Tuscaloosa Center for Technology (TCT). Since fall 2000, the television production program has served more than 1,200 students. Raines’ students produce a weekly program called Common Ground covering three high school campuses. It was the first to be produced in a career-technical center and to air on a local broadcast station in Alabama. During Raines’ first year at TCT, the Alabama State Department of Education honored him by naming his program the Technical Education Program of the Year in 2003. Raines has led his students to 90 Alabama Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) awards in six years, including the top journalism honor, All-Alabama, two years in a row. Two of his students earned ASPA on-site overall journalism awards. In 2001-2002, Raines participated in the Alabama Career Technical Course of Study Committee, and he wrote the television production curriculum for the state. Raines told Annual Convention attendees, “I hope this is a testament to my students that if you work hard and dream big, big things can happen.”

CorbettMike.jpgThe Carl D. Perkins Humanitarian Award

Michael Corbett, of Delaware, Ohio, was the recipient of the ACTE 2008 Carl Perkins Humanitarian Award—an award that was established in 1985 to honor the late Rep. Carl Perkins. It is given in recognition of individuals who are making outstanding contributions of state or national significance to the development and progress of the field. For the past five years he has used his influence to make a difference in the lives of the developmentally disabled. As the executive director of Delaware Creative Housing (DCH), Corbett oversees the building of housing for special populations. DCH is an organization that works with disabled individuals to finance, build and modify houses to accommodate their specific needs. Working directly with Corbett and the clients, students build a house following the client’s specifications. The experience allows them to gain valuable knowledge and skills in their trade. Corbett supervises the construction of three to five houses a year. DCH has been awarded a five-year $50,000 grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council. He plans to use this grant to assist in building 15 homes throughout Ohio.

TeriHolle.jpgOutstanding Career and Technical Education Professional

Teri Holle, of Enid, Oklahoma, was named the ACTE 2008 Outstanding Career and Technical Education Professional. The award recognizes career and technical educators (other than full-time teachers) who have provided significant contributions to professional associations and CTE programs for youth and adults in their fields, communities and states. Holle is the director of Business and Industry Services at Autry Technology Center. She identifies and implements strategies that integrate workforce development, economic development and education at the local, state and regional levels where business, education and government leaders can come together to create a competitive advantage. She provides consulting services and training to more than 500 local businesses and 10,000 individuals. As a volunteer grant writer and fundraiser, she has raised more than $25 million—especially for scholarships. One of Holle’s significant accomplishments is the development and growth of the local Corporate Executive Officer (CEO) Network. It was developed in 1996 to help business leaders and educators work together in creating a growing community. This network is the only group within the Oklahoma CareerTech system that has gotten the involvement of CEOs, and it provides a networking opportunity for them to share issues and concerns involving business. Members from the group have served on several of the governor’s taskforces, and it was one of the impetuses behind OkACTE’s CEO Day at the state Capitol. Accepting the award Holle said, “When I look out at this group of teachers I know that each of you is affecting students.”

GoetzTamara.jpgAward of Merit

Tamara Goetz, of Salt Lake City, Utah, received the 2008 ACTE Award of Merit. The award is given to individuals or organizations outside of CTE for the highest meritorious contributions to the improvement, promotion, development and progress of CTE. Goetz was recently appointed the governor’s State Science Adviser. In this capacity, Goetz is the lead for a U.S. Department of Labor grant initiative—Workforce for Innovations in Regional Economic Development (WIRED). The WIRED initiative serves to promote and build capacity for the Utah life science industry through support of education and workforce development programs. In her previous role as director of Biotechnology at the Salt Lake Community College, she worked with other institutions to develop and improve their biotechnology programs. She worked with the faculty of Utah Valley University to develop a four-year biotechnology program. Goetz helped to develop a one-year high school biotech course as concurrent college credit. She also helped develop a model for a science charter school by partnering with the Jordan School District; it is being recognized as a national model for other schools to follow.

ACTE at Work

ACTE’s executive director Janet B. Bray welcomed Annual Convention attendees to Las Vegas during the Opening General Session on December 13. She noted that ACTE continues to protect, provide and promote leadership, and outlined some of the Association’s accomplishments over the past year.


  • Testified on the No Child Left Behind Act before the House Education and Labor Committee.
  • Helped launch the Career and Technical Education Congressional Caucus.
  • Published postsecondary reform position statement “Expanding Opportunities: Postsecondary Career and Technical Education and Preparing Tomorrow’s Workforce,” and four issue briefs on education reform.
  • Was successful in getting a $25 million increase to Perkins’ fiscal year 2008 funding. (Although the spending bill was vetoed, ACTE is still working to safeguard Perkins funding.)
  • Established a Research Clearinghouse—is the leading partner in new National Research Center for Career and Technical Education.
  • Established Promising Practices repository on Web Site.
  • Launched State Profiles.
  • Created a series of Webcasts, podcasts and blogs to disseminate information to our members.
  • Continues to expand the ACTE bookstore; it now boasts more than 200 titles.
  • Partners with U.S. News and World Report to enhance Career Tech Update—ACTE’s electronic newsletter—which now goes out daily to our members.
  • Enhances Techniques magazine so that it continues to provide in-depth analysis and disseminate classroom best practices of value to our members.

Exhibit Hall a Packed Success
More than 6,000 people walked through the Career Tech Expo’s exhibit hall during the course of ACTE’s Annual Convention held December 13-15. About 230 companies were on hand to showcase their products and services—a 15 percent increase from 2006. To be sure, the exhibit hall was packed. Presenters such as Google and Apple were overwhelmed with attention as attendees flocked to their workshops and presentations. Last year, ACTE promised that this expo would be even better than 2006, and yet again, we delivered. Exhibitors were pleased with the attendance and noted as much.

“The reviews have returned from our staff that this was the best show ever for us to take part in,” said Melody Buchanan with Cisco Learning. This year’s expo included eight Market Place exhibitors, an area dedicated to cash and carry sales; student demonstrations; and educational sessions.

Pre-Convention Workshops
ACTE continued the expansion of Annual Convention programming by adding three pre-Convention workshops. One new addition was a partnership between the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) and ACTE to present a pre-Convention conference dedicated to assessment. During this one-day event on December 12, attendees heard about developing and implementing a quality assessment program, were able to network with nationally renowned experts in the field, and discovered resources that will help educational professionals at all levels advance their assessment program to meet emerging accountability standards.

AOD Passes Bylaws
The Assembly of Delegates (AOD) passed all the proposed bylaws changes. The majority of these changes centered on the authority to set dues. Based on the actions of the AOD, beginning in FY 2010, dues for all classification of members will be set by the Board of Directors. For a review of the proposed changes, please see the October 2007 issue of Techniques magazine. The new bylaws will be online by the end of February.

Convention Blog Gives Attendees a Voice
In December, ACTE hosted its first Annual Convention blog, a forum in which one attendee shared her experiences from the 2007 Annual Convention. First-time Convention attendee and blogger Jody Koenigseker, a career assessment specialist at R.G. Drage Career Center in Massillon, Ohio, and president of the Ohio ACTE Special Needs Division, described both the positive and negative aspects of travel, hotels, meetings, sessions and networking events. More than 1,300 readers followed Jody’s Convention experiences. If you have not read her posts on the joys and frustrations of the Convention, or the comments her posts elicited from other attendees, please do so.

Keep reading Techniques magazine and checking out this site to find out the latest information on the 2008 ACTE Annual Convention and Career Tech Expo. Registration will open right after ACTE’s National Policy Seminar in mid-March. We look forward to seeing you in Charlotte, North Carolina!

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