Celebrate CTE Month 2017!

By Carrot Creates

Career and Technical Education Month®, or CTE Month®, is a public awareness campaign that takes place each February to celebrate the value of CTE and the achievements and accomplishments of CTE programs across the country. Today’s cutting-edge, rigorous and relevant career and technical education (CTE) prepares youth and adults for a wide range of high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers.
What is Career and Technical Education?

• High schools, career centers, community & technical colleges, as well as, four year universities, are educating students for a range of career options through 16 Career Clusters and 79+ pathways
• The trainings integrate with academics in a rigorous and relevant curriculum enabling clear pathways to certifications and degrees
• Because of the high demands from employers, this training fulfills the needs for high-skilled, high-wage, and high-demand areas.

The benefits of the CTE trainings are having a positive impact on high school students involved in the program. They are performing better and graduating at higher rates. The average high school graduation rate for students concentrating on CTE programs is 90%, compared to a national average of 75% of freshmen graduation rates not involved in the program. CTE fosters postsecondary completion and prepares students and adults for careers that are in demand by employers. CTE addresses the needs of high-growth industries and helps close the skills’ gap.

CTE Works with Business
• The skilled trades are the hardest jobs to fill in the United States
• Health care occupations are one of the fastest growing occupations
• STEM occupations will experience faster than average job growth

Jobs that require education and training beyond high school, but less than a bachelor’s degree, are a significant part of the economy. Of the 46.8 million job openings created by 2018, 30% will require some college or a two-year associate’s degree.
With the dedicated interest in student success and providing opportunities for them to participate in career and technical education, parents and teachers can collaborate on helping students make informative decisions to secure their preparedness for their future.


How to Involve More Fathers in Your School

By Carrot Creates

We all know that family engagement is a vital component to student success in our schools. But in many schools, involving fathers and other male role models may be a challenge.

The National PTA has surveyed over 2,500 men to generate guidelines to assist schools in breaking down the barriers to encourage more male involvement in our schools. Here are a few suggestions to give a try:

1. Design all recruitment materials and your invitation pitch to explain how men’s involvement would benefit their children and their children’s school. Father’s want to know how they can be helpful to their child’s education. Instead of saying, “help your child with homework.” Give specific strategies and directions for areas that a child needs extra help.

2. Use specific messaging and advertising aimed at men and ask fathers to become involved. Fathers want to be helpful in their child’s school but prefer an invitation to come and complete projects around the school. Ask for volunteers to help with landscaping, playground up grades, school beautification projects and school improvement goals. Dads need to know exactly “how” to help.

3. Create more volunteer opportunities and special events for dads.
Survey respondents stated a preference for hands-on projects and suggested events such as “dads only” events, school carnivals, sports activities, father-daughter and father-son activities, and back-to-school fests.

4. Give it to ’em straight.
Almost half of the dads surveyed indicated that they want volunteer roles and expectations clearly defined. Telling them the what, when, where, why, and how would make them more likely to volunteer.

5. Communicate with Fathers the way they want to be reached. Instead of long memos, fathers prefer emails with bulleted lists and quick notes that are to the point for requested needs.

6. Recognize and celebrate Male involvement
Publicize your successes. When you start getting more men involved, let the community know. Success begets success. Reinforcing men’s contributions, while being mindful of what all members do for your school, creates a positive atmosphere. Recognize your fathers, thank them often, and celebrate your student and school accomplishments and success!


Educators Have to Learn Too! ESSA & Professional Learning

By Stefanie Prokity

The Background

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the nation’s new education law, redefines the standards for high-quality professional development for teachers and K-12 leaders.

Why is that important? At least one national observer says the law could have a significant impact in moving schools away from the one-day workshop model that has dominated professional development for years and toward a new, more personalized—and more highly effective—approach.

ESSA updates this definition by stating: “The term ‘professional development’ means activities that … are sustained (not stand-alone, 1-day, or short-term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and classroom focused.” (S. 1177, Section 8002, page 295, paragraph 42)

In other words, professional development should be an ongoing process that is seamlessly woven into a teacher’s experience throughout the year, the law says—and not just a series of unconnected, “sit and get” workshops.

There are two other terms that show up repeatedly within ESSA to describe the kinds of professional development activities the law should fund: “personalized” and “evidence-based.”

For example, under Section 2103, the law lists “providing high-quality, personalized professional development that is evidence-based” among the activities intended for funding under Title II, Part A: Supporting Effective Instruction. (S. 1177, page 127, paragraph E)

Just as students benefit from opportunities for personalized learning, teachers and school leaders do as well, the law implies—and it directs funding to professional development activities that are grounded in research and targeted to educators’ specific needs. (Summarized from ESSA Redefines Professional Development for Teachers. Are You Ready for This Shift? By Dennis Pierce)


The Challenge

When school districts commit to offering more personalized professional development then challenges arise, namely how they will;

·        Deliver consistently high quality, aligned, differentiated professional learning for teachers and principals?

·        Unify professional development opportunities in a district with a culture of site-driven decision-making?

·        Shift people from a compliance mindset to a growth mindset?

·        Address the time pressures that everyone feels?

·        Give teachers more power to choose their own pathway?

·        Leverage new technologies to address persistent professional development issues?


One Solution

Successful Innovations, Inc. has dedicated six years to providing educators with consistently high quality professional development through the National Family Engagement Summit and subsequent follow-up, on-site professional learning opportunities. This year is no different! The 2017 National Family Engagement Summit will be held on March 16-17, 2017 in Richmond, VA. The Summit hosts some of the most intellectual and thought-provoking leaders in education to help attendees improve their content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and skills which will lead to improved instructional practices and greater student achievement. The National Family Engagement Summit focuses on providing educators from all across the nation with proven, research-based solutions and techniques for impacting school reform efforts and for conquering demographic, socioeconomic, equity and diversity challenges. 

At Successful Innovations, Inc. we believe that continuous and innovative professional learning created through collaborative partnerships is an integral component to transformational change within school districts all across the country. Our professional development offerings, including the National Family Engagement Summit, are infused with innovative practices that build capacity and expertise in new skills for educators that will ultimately bring value to teachers and administrators and academic success to students.

To learn more about the 2017 National Family Engagement Summit visit our website; www.nfesummit.com. We look forward to meeting you in March and revolutionizing your professional learning and family engagement goals!

Leadership Development: A Critical Component of School Reform

By Darla Edwards

When I became a principal, I finally understood the true meaning of Spiderman’s words: “with great power comes great responsibility.” While Spiderman has the power to save lives, principals have the power to change and influence many lives.  I realized that leadership has such a tremendous impact on students’ success, school climate/culture, teacher effectiveness/retention, and family engagement.  Graduate classes can never fully prepare you for all of the complexities and demands of the principalship.  More than half of principals quit after five years.   Many districts devote more funding and time to teacher preparation and much less to principal preparation. 

Unfortunately, just four percent of Title II funds have historically been spent on professional development for school leaders. According to the New Leaders’ publication, Prioritizing Leadership: Opportunities in ESSA for Chief State School Officers, “one-quarter of a school’s influence on student learning can be directly attributed to the effectiveness of its school leaders” and “an outstanding principal can improve student academic achievement by as much as 20 percentage points.”

If schools are constantly struggling without realizing any substantial gains in student achievement, district administrators should really take a close look at the investment and priority that they have given to leadership development within the district. 

 Many school reforms focus on curriculum standards, assessments, teacher quality, and accountability systems.  As a result of the Every Students Succeeds Act, we may begin to see more of a focus on comprehensive educational leadership reforms. ESSA recognizes the importance and impact of principals by creating new and expanded opportunities to strengthen school leadership, specifically in our nation’s highest need schools and communities.

Title II, Part A allows each state to invest almost eight percent of its total allotment to attract, prepare, develop, and retain school leaders.   This is promising because we will see states develop more innovative principal preparation programs, comprehensive school leadership strategies, and robust capacity building trainings for school leaders.  

When I served on the Virginia Board of Education, I had the opportunity to participate in the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) study group on school leadership. Through the generous support of the Wallace Foundation, we had the opportunity to learn about some of the most effective principal pipeline initiatives around the nation focusing on how districts recruit, prepare, and retain quality school leaders.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools offers a variety of preparatory options for aspiring school leaders. The district also provides coaching and mentoring for principals during their beginning years of service.  During my visits to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, I have been extremely impressed with the quality, caliber, and expertise of their principals.   

In order to develop the most effective leaders, districts must partner with universities to provide well-connected development opportunities that extend throughout the careers of school leaders. .

In October 2016, the Wallace Foundation selected seven universities and their state and district partners to participate in a new $47-million initiative to develop models over the next four years for improving university principal preparation programs.    According to a recent Wallace-commissioned study, Improving University Principal Preparation Programs: Five Themes From the Field, 80 percent of district superintendents are dissatisfied with the quality of principal preparation programs, and many universities also believe their programs have room for improvement. These university partnerships will be extremely beneficial in equipping and shaping our next generation of school leaders. 

While it is exciting to see the opportunities for leadership development embedded in ESSA, hopefully we will begin to see even more innovative programs, partnerships and training opportunities for the success of school leaders.  

We know that Spiderman has the option of returning to the ordinary and average life of Peter Parker, but the only option for the school leader is continuous growth and improvement to achieve extraordinary results.