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Educators in Action

A Summer of Learning and Leaving My Comfort Zone



By: Coleen Keffeler

This summer has been an enjoyable one, albeit a stretch for this small town girl. The Practitioner-in-Residence program has provided a valuable experience to me and one that I can share with the students and staff I work with. Originally I planned to stay for an extended period of time at ACTE Headquarters; however, work and family obligations required me to switch gears and plan for 7–10 day visits each month. I am continuing to work on projects while at home but am finding it is much easier to stay on task at the ACTE office.

My goal as a Practitioner-in-Residence was to develop a comprehensive leadership program for ACTE and State Associations. This has been a challenging goal requiring the utilization of ACTE staff resources, networking with current and former board members as well as researching leadership strategies and styles.

Some of the projects I have started and with a few more to finish include:

  • Organizing a New Board member orientation conference call/Webinar
  • Participating in the new Board member orientation prior to the July Board meeting
  • Developing a Vice President “How-to” Guide for incoming Board members
  • Continuing work with the Leadership Task Force which I chair
  • Continuing development of the Leadership Development Program being offered in conjunction with the 2011 ACTE Convention
  • Developing articles on leadership for use in State Association newsletters
  • Developing an article on leadership for Techniques
  • Composing a book review for posting on the ACTE Web site
  • Developing a state association survey in regards to the Quality Association Standards Award, the State Association How-to-Guide developed in 2010 and the ACTE Web site
  • Other projects/activities as the opportunity arises

School will resume at the end of August and I will return to the familiar routine at Sturgis Brown High School, but I will continue to work on the leadership program as it is my belief that career and technical education, and ACTE, need to mentor and promote leadership from within. The profession and the learners we serve need strong leaders to advocate for and promote career and technical education as an essential component of a student’s secondary education as well as the training and retraining of adults. CTE is critical to maintaining a highly-skilled workforce in today’s global economy. 

Being at ACTE Headquarters has also allowed me to work with ACTE staff and provide input on work they are doing and how it impacts the members. I have enjoyed working with everyone and want to convey my thanks to each and every one of the staff for the work they do on behalf of career and technical education. One would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated staff. 

On July 31–August 3 I will be attending the South Dakota ACTE Conference (follow Twitter updates from the event by searching for hashtag #SDACTE). It has been my pleasure to attend this conference for the last 26 years with only one missed conference. The conference provides professional development and updates from our state office regarding career and technical education in South Dakota. It also provides a much needed shot in the arm of enthusiasm and motivation to get ready for the new school year. I hope that you attend and enjoy your state conference as much as I do.

In my next post, I’ll share what I learned at the SD ACTE Conference as well as the progress being made on leadership projects. Enjoy these last few weeks of summer.

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