Shani Watkins, Director of the West Sound Technical Skills Center located in Bremerton, Washington. Shani has held the Director position for the last seven years and is currently serving as the ACTE Region V Vice President. Shani is the recipient of the 2022 ACTE National Administrator of the Year award. During a recent interview, Shani shared her professional journey to ACTE Regional leadership and the challenges CTE programs are experiencing in Region V.
Shani started in private industry working for for-profit and non-profit accounting companies where she discovered the love for teaching after becoming the go-to person on her staff for Microsoft software and technical skills training. After completing a one-year business teaching degree program in 1997, she began her teaching career in business education at a high school. In 1998, she moved on to post-secondary education where she worked at a graduate assistance program while pursuing a Master’s degree in Education. With a Master’s degree in hand, she taught business education for four years, integrating curriculum and instruction of web design/journalism and software development. Shortly after, she accepted an instructional facilitator position at a local school district where she met an administrator who inspired her to move from instructional coaching into CTE educational leadership, which resulted in a four-year tenure as program director at a local university. During her time at the university, she developed a supportive program for non-traditional CTE teachers looking to start careers in education. Teachers earned their bachelor’s degree in CTE education through a streamlined program that honored the aspiring teachers’ professional background and prior associate’s degree credits. Before accepting the West Sound Skills Center directorship, Shani also served as a CTE Assistant Director at a local school district and as the Principal of the Seattle Skills Center. The supervision of urban, rural, and multi-district programs, particularly one of the largest districts in Washington, shaped her understanding and expertise of career technical education needs in her area.
Shani became involved in ACTE serving on the Region V Policy Committee for three years and on their Awards Chair Committee for a year. Her experience with the Region V Policy Committee was incredible; her colleagues show up well, had great ideas, and follow through on regional needs. Previously, she held the position of board secretary of the Washington Association for Career & Technical Administrators, as well as board president-elect, president, and past president. She was encouraged to apply for the Region V Vice President by ACTE colleagues; a position she has held since July 2021. Her goals for her vice presidency include supporting and advancing change in the political and advocacy system in her area. She holds a strong belief that change can only take place when followed by action. Since starting her position as the Region V VP, she has become more aware of Region V challenges and is looking forward to creating new opportunities in the region by examining issues through a systems lens, focusing on how to make “good” become “great.”
Sue S. Key, Ed.D.
Region V Experienced Fellow