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ACTE Announces Maine Design/Technology Instructor as National Award Finalist


September 13, 2016

Contact: Jarrod Nagurka 
jnagurka@acteonline.org, 703-683-9312 


ACTE Announces Maine Design/Technology Instructor as National Award Finalist

ALEXANDRIA, VA—The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) announces Brandon Soards, design/technology instructor at Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland, Maine, as the 2016 Region I Teacher of the Year. This award recognizes the finest career and technical teachers at the middle/secondary school level who have demonstrated innovation in the classroom, commitment to their students and dedication to the improvement of CTE in their institutions and communities. The Teacher of the Year Award is sponsored by Express Employment Professionals.

When Brandon Soards was hired as an instructor at the Mid-Coast School of Technology (MCST) in Rockland, Maine, the Graphic Communications program was struggling with low enrollment and no formal industry standards. Under Soards’ leadership, the re-named "Design/Technology" program was expanded, using a crosswalk of graphic design, multimedia, and state visual arts standards as the new core of the curriculum. His SkillsUSA students have won nine gold medals, fourteen silver medals, and one bronze medal. As an adjunct professor at Southern Maine Community College, Soards has created opportunities for his 2-year MCST students to earn up to 12 concurrent-enrollment college credits. Students now complete the program with a portfolio review in which they present their work to a panel of college and industry judges, and it has become commonplace for students to get hired on the spot during this process. After five years, the once struggling program is now receiving more applications than it has seats. 

Soards has led numerous workshops and in-house trainings for his peers demonstrating creative uses for technology in the classroom as well as the application of fine art standards through CTE. Soards’ creativity and broad skillset contributed to the development of a robust multimedia learning management system of 350+ videos for students to encourage independent learning, as well as the development of a workplace simulation game to teach students about employability skills with real incentives for their performance and professionalism. “[Soards] is a dedicated instructor with a natural ability to differentiate instruction for each student,” says Elizabeth Fisher, MCST Director. “He effectively encourages each student to achieve his or her best while helping them develop their unique artistic talent. 

Soards is one of five finalists for the 2017 national title. The national winner will be announced at the ACTE Awards Banquet, a dinner and award presentation recognizing the best CTE educators in the country. The event will take place on Wednesday evening, November 30, during ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Awards Banquet is sponsored by Express Employment Professionals, the US Army, CareerSafe, Certiport, Stratasys, and International Baccalaureate. For more information about the ACTE Excellence Awards, visit our webpage.  


About ACTE 
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit association committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. ACTE represents the community of CTE professionals, including educators, administrators, researchers, guidance counselors and others at all levels of education. ACTE is committed to excellence in providing advocacy, public awareness and access to resources, professional development and leadership opportunities. 


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ACTE is committed to enhancing the job performance and satisfaction of its members; to increasing public awareness and appreciation for career and technical programs; and to assuring growth in local, state and federal funding for these programs by communicating and working with legislators and government leaders.



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