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2013-2014 Award Winners


Congratulations to the 2014 Excellence Award Winners!

2014 winners_group photo

The following awards were presented during the ACTE Awards Banquet at CareerTech VISION 2013.

Member Awards

Nominated Awards

2014 TOY_Tara Berescik  

2014 ACTE Teacher of the Year, Sponsored by Cisco

Tara L. Berescik
Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor
Tri-Valley Central School District
Grahamsville, New York

As an agricultural educator and FFA adviser at Tri-Valley School District for the past 13 years, Tara Berescik remains a source of inspiration and support for her students, even after they have left her classroom. As a teacher known for her ability to connect with her students and aptitude for maximizing potential in others, Berescik is frequently called upon by former students for her advice concerning challenging college and career decisions. One of Berescik's eight former students who has gone on to pursue a career as an agricultural education instructor said, "Tara dedicates her life to her students and does whatever it takes to ensure their success. For Tara, her dedication to her students lasts around the clock, every day."

In addition to advising her award-winning FFA team after hours, Berescik teaches eight classes a day on a variety of topics in which she integrates hands-on experience and crosswalks into math, science and English.

Berescik's hands-on teaching style has provided her students with a variety of truly remarkable experiences. For example, students in her floral sciences classes conduct experiments on home-grown flowers and learn how to run their own floral business, which has completed floral arrangements for 48 weddings. In addition, students collaborate with the NYC Reservoir System to learn about water quality control in environmental science and study animal physiology through hands-on manipulation of non-living specimen parts in the Cornell curriculum-based course. Berescik has even taken the classroom outside the country, arranging field trips to Ireland, Australia and Costa Rica to learn about international agriculture topics, from the science of growing coffee to the genetic differences in horses.

2014 CGA_Jayne Greeney Schill  

2014 Career Guidance Award, Sponsored by Kuder Inc.

Jayne Greeney Schill
CTE/Business Education Partnerships/College Bound Program Coordinator-Counselor
St. Cloud Area School District #742
Waite Park, Minnesota

As a college undergraduate, Schill learned first-hand the importance of student guidance after discovering that her degree in accounting had launched her into a profession she had no passion for. Since then, Schill has applied her talents as a successful CTE/business-education partnerships/College Bound Program (CBP) coordinator/counselor. As the CBP coordinator, Schill transformed the program into a model incorporating different career academies in which academics, career exploration and college preparation were linked to specific career fields. After Schill noticed a large gender gap in the academies, she developed and implemented the SciGals program at two middle schools to promote STEM and digital media (DM) pathways for girls. In the past three years, 120 girls with an aptitude and an interest in STEM and DM have enrolled in those programs, which enabled them to further pursue high-tech, high-demand and high-wage jobs in those areas.

Schill's other projects include an annual family forum series to educate parents about financial literacy and postsecondary education planning, and an e-mentoring program for English language learners and special education students. Each year, she organizes a College, Community and Career Readiness Conference for ninth-graders in which students can choose from and attend 20 breakout sessions about different careers and receive insights and life experiences from members of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce. Schill's superintendent said, "She has brought a level of enthusiasm to both our staff and students regarding new course offerings and future career goals."

2014 OCTE_Tony Brannon  

2014 Outstanding Career and Technical Educator

Tony Brannon
Dean, Hutson School of Agriculture
Murray State University
Murray, Kentucky

Brannon has secured more than $8.5 million in grants to support his career and technical education programs, which have been adopted at other institutions and statewide. A pioneer in the field, Brannon leads by his maxim: "Academic education isn't education unless it is vocational, and vocational education isn't education unless it is academic." Brannon proudly calls himself a product of CTE and has been involved in a number of CTE affiliated organizations throughout his career. During his unprecedented two terms as chair of the Kentucky FFA Foundation, the annual fund increased by 50 percent, a permanent full-time director was hired, and Brannon wrote and secured a $2 million perpetual funding grant from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board.

To motivate students to score well on the Kentucky Occupational Skills Standards Assessment (KOSSA), Brannon led in the development of a statewide articulation agreement for agricultural education, which allowed qualified students passing the KOSSA to earn three hours of college credit at their institution of choice. He also developed and continues to help coordinate the Racer Academy of Agriculture, a program that offers dual credit at the high school and university levels in four classes developed by the Murray State University Hutson School of Agriculture. In the past year, more than 250 students from 35 different high schools across the state received credit in this academy. Not only are Brannon's CTE programs considered academic, but the college credit they offer saves students thousands of dollars and helps launch their college careers.

Click here to watch Secretary Arne Duncan quote Tony Brannon in his speech at the Awards Banquet!

2014 NCTT_Briana Lynn Morton

2014 Outstanding New Career and Technical Teacher

Briana Lynn Morton
FACS Teacher & FCCLA Advisor
Homewood Middle School
Homewood, Alabama

Inspired to help students growing up in rural areas like the community she came from, Briana Lynn Morton left a career in apparel merchandising to become a FACS teacher. In order to prepare her students for success in a 21st-century global society, Morton has made it her mission to incorporate cutting-edge technology in her classroom and has acquired more than $15,000 in grants to make this possible. Her students are proficient in electronic education tools, including Moodle, Edmondo and E-pals, and have created their own wikis, websites, blogs and educational podcasts, 10 of which have been featured on the award-winning Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX). In addition, Morton's middle school students highlight the school's CTE program while producing their school newspaper. One of their favorite projects has been creating businesses selling products made from recycled materials and donating the proceeds to charity. Morton's students have been recognized with the "Making a Difference" award by the local NBC news team for their community service.

Morton is dedicated to her own professional development, as well as sharing her successful practices with others. She has submitted 15 original lesson plans on ALEX and has created several career-based learning modules for the Alabama Department of Education and Alabama Public Television. Morton's approachability as a teacher and engaging lessons have earned the admiration of her students, and her collaborative spirit impresses her colleagues and principal, who said, "Mrs. Morton cares about each and every student and staff person at our school. This is a teacher who is about helping the entire school improve, not just her class."

2014 OTCS_Felicia Williams

2014 Outstanding Teacher in Community Service

Felicia Williams
FACS Teacher & FCCLA Advisor
Horseshoe Bend School
New Site, Alabama

As a family and consumer sciences teacher and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) sponsor at Horseshoe Bend School (grades K-12), Felicia Williams has brought positive attention to her school with her students' award-winning service projects. One of her students' most successful projects started as an anti-bullying presentation for second-graders that incorporated puppets, activities and games. The project began in response to a student survey indicating that bullying was on the rise in Williams' school, and aimed to provide younger students with the skills to cope with bullying situations. After receiving a perfect score and a gold medal at the national FCCLA competition, Williams and her students were featured in a local newspaper article, and shortly after were asked to present to 750 students at a neighboring school. Invigorated by the project's success, Williams' students expanded the project to address fifth- and sixth-grade students by creating a video about the different types of bullying. The project went on to receive state and national awards, including a $500 award that the team used to sponsor a speaker to come talk to students about "the power of one."

In addition to the anti-bullying project, Williams has also organized a Pink Fashion Show to raise money for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, helped collect and deliver donated items to schools affected by tornadoes, and coordinated the cake walk at her school's Fall Festival. New Site's former mayor said, "Ms. Williams sets very high standards for herself and for her students, and her commitment to excellence has really benefited our town and the communities serviced by Horseshoe Bend School."

2014 LAA_Gary Wixom

2014 Lifetime Achievement Award

Gary S. Wixom
Assistant Commissioner
Utah System of Higher Education
Salt Lake City, Utah

As the assistant commissioner for the Utah System of Higher Learning from 1999-2011, Gary Wixom has given leadership to the Utah Electronic College, the development of Utah’s concurrent enrollment program and the engineering and computer science initiative, has co-chaired the Utah Education Network Steering Committee, and has promoted two community colleges to the university level. Throughout his illustrious 43-year career as a CTE teacher and administrator, Wixom has enhanced the quality and availability of CTE offerings across Utah.

Beginning his career as a business faculty member, Wixom overhauled the administration curriculum at his institution and acquired funds to bring state-of-the-art business education equipment to his students. Wixom brought computer programming to the department when these opportunities were generally available only at larger institutions. As a dean, he also lobbied for CTE funding at the Utah State Legislature. He was instrumental in designing technical and life skill training for individuals classified as minority and economically disadvantaged, successfully bringing together resources from community agencies to ensure success of these students. During the 1970s, Wixom led an effort that resulted in the first life skills program geared toward teaching underemployed and unemployable students skills that made them self-sufficient offered in Utah.

Wixom has strived to make CTE available to students in rural areas, teaching and offering some of the first online learning courses at his institutions and establishing four outreach centers to deliver CTE courses to rural locations. He has served as a representative on NASDCTEc and the National Community College State Directors Council, and has participated in many initiatives to move educational programs forward at the national level.

2014 Merit_Klisch_Arjonetta
Arjonetta Gailyard, Senior HR
Generalist for MTU America Inc.,
accepted the award on Joerg
Klisch's behalf. 

2014 Award of Merit

Joerg Klisch
Vice President Operations North America
MTU America Inc.

As our nation faces a shortage of skilled craftsman and skyrocketing tuition costs for postsecondary education, the opportunity to receive free training through a registered apprenticeship is truly the opportunity of a lifetime for many students. As the vice president of North American Operations for Tognum America, Jeorg Klisch has provided this opportunity by partnering with the Aiken County Career & Technology Center to launch South Carolina’s first registered apprentice program for high school students.

Klisch’s model is based on a similar 30-year strong apprenticeship program in Germany that boasts a 100 percent graduation rate. Over the course of two years and the summer between, six industrial mechanic-basic student-apprentices receive 1,000 paid hours of experience working alongside master craftsmen. After passing their exam at the end of the training, the students have acquired the credential and experience to obtain open positions with Tognum or other potential employers. In its pilot round of implementation, MTU-Tognum expended over $50,000 in stipends for apprentices and upgrades for the school’s mechatronics shop. When asked about the program, one of the apprentices said, “It’s something I never felt before. They care about you and want you to make it in the world.”

Klisch, along with school district and Apprenticeship Carolina representatives, was invited to the White House in 2012 to discuss vocational training opportunities to prepare students in the United States for workforce readiness. He was also featured in an interview with Dan Rather, where he encouraged American industries to explore the German model of workforce training. Klisch has taken every opportunity to invite his industry counterparts in Aiken County to learn more about the apprenticeship program, which continues to grow strong.

2014 Image_NOCTI

2014 ACTE Image Award


For more than 45 years, NOCTI, a not‐for‐profit organization, has served as the nation’s largest provider of technical skills assessments (TSA) spanning the full spectrum of CTE programs, with more than 80 standardized tests. NOCTI commits to measuring the effectiveness of the design and delivery of CTE and has achieved this by working closely with CTE directors in several states on projects, including customized test development, integrated academic alignment and professional development related to CTE program improvement.

While working with the National Research Center for CTE, NOCTI researched and developed a professional development program (CTEDDI) that helps teachers use TSA data linked to state academic and technical standards to improve classroom instruction and increase student achievement. As one of the founding members of the United States of America Technical and Vocational Education and Training consortium led by ACTE, NOCTI has worked to promote the export of TVET goods and services around the world. NOCTI’s promotion of CTE also extends to sponsoring ACTE’s Techniques magazine and hosting their own CTE awards and video contests.

After a 2012 collaboration with the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS), an extensive evaluation of NOCTI’s assessments resulted in college credit recommendations for students meeting a 70 percent benchmark on any of the approved 28 written assessments at more than 1,500 participating colleges and universities. Tina Grant, NCCRS Director, has credited this decision as a testament to NOCTI’s dedication to its product and customers, and the CTE community: “NOCTI has helped to further promote the very potent idea that college-level learning can take place outside of the college classroom and at any time in a person’s life and should be recognized and valued regardless.”

2014 Carl Perkins Outstanding Service Award

2014 Perkins_Sandra Hemmert

Sandra Hemmert
CTE Coordinator
Granite School District
Salt Lake City, Utah

As a CTE coordinator for Granite School District, Sandra Hemmert’s work has brought Utah’s CTE programs into the spotlight. She has helped secure several multi-million-dollar grants for the growth of CTE, firmly placing Granite District’s CTE programs in the state’s talent development pipeline. During her 34 years in the education field, Hemmert has played an important role in developing modern and effective CTE programs that meet students’ needs.

Hemmert has reinvented career and technical education programs focusing on high-demand, high-tech industries (e.g. biomanufacturing, biotechnology, aeronautics) and usage of hands-on experiential learning. She helped pioneer the BioInnovation Gateway (BiG), in which biomanufacturing students work with industry partners to solve real-world problems by developing new products. BiG has received state and national recognition and has been studied as a model by individuals from as far away as China.

Hemmert also spearheaded several CTE programs that serve disabled young adults and dropouts. Participants in these programs are guided through the transition to the workforce with hands-on vocational training, mobility training, social networks and one-on-one training on finding and retaining jobs.

To protect quality in CTE and bring new CTE teachers into the field from industry, Hemmert developed an Alternative Route to Licensure (ARL) training program, which has been recognized as exemplary by the Utah State Board of Education. She also worked closely to implement Granite’s Technical Institute, which focuses on industry and certification skills that support further training and employment, and has grown its enrollment from 800 to 3,000 students in the past seven years. She recently had a significant role in Utah’s STEM initiative and has participated in focus groups that support statewide legislation.

2014 Business Leader_Gordon Davis

2014 Business Leader of the Year

Gordon W. Davis
Founder & Chairman
CEV Mulitmedia, Ltd.

Gordon Davis is the founder and chairman of CEV Multimedia Ltd., the nation's leading producer of career and technical education materials. Founded in 1981, CEV is at the forefront of innovative educational materials, providing quality curriculum and educational resources for the subject areas of agricultural science and technology, business and marketing, family and consumer sciences, trade and industry, and career orientation.

As an agriculture teacher in Lake Stevens, Washington, Davis was never satisfied with the regular agriculture curriculum as offered in the texts he was given, and he continually sought out better outlets to engage and foster understanding in his students.

After completing a master’s degree and Ph.D. and serving as a university faculty member for 18 years, he decided to go into the video business to share his ideas and methods with other teachers. In its 30-year history, CEV Multimedia has teamed with recognized specialists, educators and publishers nationwide to produce an extensive instructional library of more than 35,000 edited minutes of video. CEV Multimedia was named to both the Governor’s State of Texas Small Business Award and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Blue Ribbon Small Business Award lists in 2012.

Davis has dedicated his staunch support to the CTE field, advocating for CTE in state boards of education in more than a dozen states. As a philanthropist, Davis has awarded more than 654 scholarships and has helped grow nine endowments, totaling $4.7 million combined since 1986, and has donated time, resources and funds to more than 27 CTE organizations on both state and national levels. Throughout his 44-year career, Davis has received 49 university, business and industry awards, and credits his success to his team of colleagues.

ACTE Congratulates Its Region Winners!

Career Guidance Award
Sponsored by Kuder Inc.

Outstanding Career and

Janet Baughn, Ohio, Region I 

Dan Frederick, Ohio, Region I 

Barbara Mackessy, Georgia, Region II 

Tony Brannon, Kentucky, Region II

Jayne Greeney Schill, Minnesota, Region III

Jennifer Polz, Minnesota, Region III 

Barrett Richardson, Oklahoma, Region IV 

Phillip Gilbreath, Texas, Region IV 

Jamie Vargas, Utah, Region V 

Gayla L. Randel, Kansas, Region V 



Outstanding New Career and

Outstanding Teacher in
Community Service

Tiffany Morey, New Jersey, Region I 

Adam Schlosser, Ohio, Region I 

Briana Lynn Morton, Alabama, Region II  

Felicia Williams, Alabama, Region II

Crystal Combs, Iowa, Region III 

Kim Mueller, Minnesota, Region III 

Patricia Carroll, Arkansas, Region IV 

Julian Acevedo, Texas, Region IV 

Stacy E. Hatton, Arizona, Region V 

Robert H. Gowans, Utah, Region V 



Teacher of the Year  


Tara L. Berescik, New York, Region I


Sally S. Shomo, Virginia, Region II 


Michael F. Miron, Minnesota, Region III 


Fiona McAlister, Oklahoma, Region IV 


Tricia Littlefield, Washington, Region V 


Visit the winner archives to see more of our past winners. For more information on the ACTE Excellence Awards and how to apply, please visit the ACTE Awards webpage.

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