Interview with Fellowship Mentor, Paula Boughton

Paula Boughton is the Supervisor of Career and Technical Education for Monroe-2-Orleans BOCES in Spencerport, New York.  Paula completed the ACTE Fellowship program during the 2017-2018 school year and is now serving as a Fellowship mentor for the 2019-2020 school year.

I am fortunate to be able to work with Paula as my mentor for this year, and I recently had the opportunity to ask Paula about her experiences in the Fellowship program as well as her journey as an educational leader.  What stood out to me during our conversation was her passion for students, career technical education, and helping students to find their passion/future.

During our conversation, Paula described her thoughts and goals regarding career education.  “One of my main goals involves helping kids know that there are alternative ways to be successful in life.” She believes her foundation of working with Head Start Program gave her well-rounded experience with instructional coaching, understanding Federal guidelines, program requirements, as well as a multitude of other leadership experiences and opportunities.  Paula worked with Head Start as the Education and Disabilities Coordinator for six years before transitioning to her role in Career Technical Education where she worked as a VOCE in special education and then to her current role as Supervisor of Career and Technical Education.

When asked about challenges faced in career technical education, Paula stated, “We are still fighting the stereotype that career technical education is for students that are not going to college.”  She explained, “You can make a really good living in a skilled trade.  The More we can help kids make informed decisions the better off they are going to be.”  Paula went on to discuss the importance of career exploration in the middle grades as one of the avenues to help students make informed decisions.

In addition to working to help kids make informed decisions at Monroe-2-Orleans BOCES in New York, Paula’s outreach expands through her work with ACTE as the Region I Conference Chair, along with her involvement with the state association, and the CTSO organization of Skills USA.  It did not take long into our interview to realize that students in New York and the region are already making more informed career decisions due to the leadership and outreach of Paula Boughton.