Dale Winkler, executive director of career and technical education, visits with students at the Franklin County Career and Technical Center. Photo by Tim Thornberry

Dale Winkler, executive director of career and technical education, visits with students at the Franklin County Career and Technical Center. Photo by Tim Thornberry

Dale Winkler serves as the new executive director of Education and Workforce Development Cabinet’s Office of Career and Technical Education (OCTE) as well as the director of the Kentucky Department of Education’s College and Career Readiness Branch.

Winkler also serves as the lead staff to the Career and Technical Education Steering Committee that will be studying how to best carry out the recommendations from the Governor’s Transforming Education in Kentucky Task Force report. Winkler began his new position in June.

Before taking his dual-role job, Winkler earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting (1994), Certification in Business Education (1996) and master’s degree in education (1999) from Cumberland College. In 2002, he completed a Rank I in Educational Leadership and Administration from Eastern Kentucky University. In May 2010, Winkler graduated from the University of Kentucky with a doctorate in Educational Leadership Studies.

Winkler is a product of career and technical education. He started as a high school student in the business and office program at KY-Tech Madison County. He was involved in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and eventually became the Phi Beta Lambda state president while attending college. Winkler has served as a classroom teacher in a local high school and area technology center, state academic consultant for business and marketing education, state service coordinator for federal programs, and KY-Tech principal.

How did you benefit as a student from participating in the business and office program at KY-Tech Madison County?

As a student in the business and office program at the area technology center, I obtained the academic, occupational and employability skills needed to succeed in college and my chosen career path. The writing and math skills I obtained in the business classes, especially accounting, prepared me for postsecondary study at Cumberland College. My involvement in Future Business Leaders of America provided me with the employability skills of effective communication and collaboration, critical thinking, and time management. These skills have benefited me as a manager in industry, and as a classroom teacher, academic consultant, principal and executive director.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

I have two favorite teachers. One was my former high school business teacher. Coretta Combs was an individual who made the curriculum interesting, and she provided students with real-world applications. She encouraged me to study accounting and to pursue it as my college major. My other favorite teacher was a college professor. Harold Hubbard was chair of the business department at Cumberland College and developed a great relationship with all students within the department. He served as my accounting professor, academic advisor and work-study supervisor. He assisted me and other students with class projects and student organization activities. Mr. Hubbard is a good friend, and I still seek his guidance on occasion.

Is there an event or person in your past that helped you decide to become involved in education?

My neighbor throughout my childhood was an elderly woman who was like a third grandmother to me. She was a former teacher, and she used to help me with my homework. I credit Floy Bogie with first sparking my interest in education. Ms. Bogie was a graduate of Cumberland College, and she strongly encouraged me to consider attending Cumberland. I’m so glad that I listened to her. I went to Cumberland College and majored in accounting. During my undergraduate studies, I was provided with many opportunities to work with students at the local middle and high schools. This interaction with students increased my interest in becoming a teacher. After working briefly in industry, I returned to Cumberland to pursue my teacher certification.

Over the course of your career, you have been held a variety of positions in education. What positive changes have you seen in career and technology education since your days as a student?

I believe the perception of CTE as a pathway for students with no intentions of attending college is slowly changing. I never understood this perception as a high school student. I always planned to attend college, and I saw the business courses as a means of preparing for advanced study. Individuals are beginning to realize that CTE is applied academics. CTE courses provide relevance for a student’s academic studies, and the relationships built through career and technical student organizations provide students a better understanding for technical skills and advanced training. The rigor of CTE programs has continued to increase in the past two decades.

What are your responsibilities in your new position as executive director of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet’s Office of Career and Technical Education (OCTE) and the director of the KDE College and Career Readiness Branch?

My first priority is to act on the recommendations of the report released earlier this year by the Governor’s Taskforce on Transforming Education in Kentucky. In addition, I oversee the implementation of the federal Carl D. Perkins Act for Career and Technical Education. Working with program consultants in OCTE and the CCR Branch, I assist in the coordination of career pathways and the delivery of the new College and Career Ready Accountability Model. Another responsibility is to work closely with partnering agencies. such as the Council on Postsecondary Education, Department for Workforce Investment, Department of Labor, National Research Center for CTE and Southern Regional Education Board.

Are the CTE programs in Kentucky broad enough to meet student demand?

We continue to research ways to expand CTE programs to meet student demand; however, we must first identify sectors of industry that are growing in Kentucky. We continuously evaluate the industry sectors to determine job growth and training needs of employers. CTE programs must be created with input from business and industry to adequately prepare students for jobs of the future. We must seek to prepare students for high-skill, high-wage and high-demand jobs.

Where is career and technical education in Kentucky headed, and how does it support college and career readiness?

Career and technical education in Kentucky will be the driving force behind all future high school reform efforts. All students will ultimately seek employment and pursue a career pathway. CTE can provide the rigor and relevance that will assist students in obtaining their career goals. The majority of jobs that provide a sustaining wage require training beyond high school, and CTE will be the means by which most students will acquire the skills needed to succeed in college and a career. Thus, CTE is working closely with numerous agencies to ensure that the programs of study are rigorous and provide transferable skills for 21st-century careers.

What can you and the offices you lead do to better help districts, schools and teachers prepare student to be college and career ready?

The CTE staff is busy preparing a webcast that focuses on the role CTE can play in preparing students to meet the college- and career-ready measures. We are also working on a curriculum alignment project that aligns CTE competencies with industry standards and the new academic common core. The staff continues to work with the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education and the Association for Career and Technical Education to gather best practices that can be shared with CTE teachers during technical upgrade trainings, technical assistance visits and the annual CTE Summer Program.

 How will you measure how successful you are in your new role?

I will determine the success of our efforts in career and technical education when the colleges and universities no longer have to provide Kentucky high school graduates with remediation, and the businesses in the commonwealth no longer seek to hire employees from across the state line. My goal is for every student to find success in a career that provides them with a sustaining wage and contributes to the fiscal well-being of Kentucky.

Is there a state education leader or expert you would like to see profiled in Kentucky Teacher? Let us know by emailing us at kentuckyteacher@education.ky.gov, or by emailing editor Nancy Rodriguez.