A picture of a high school boy and girls measuring pieces of wood in a shop.The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) will use a $2 million, four-year federal grant to assist leaders of high school career and technical education (CTE) centers across Kentucky.

Under the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences grant, SREB will work with Kentucky education leaders to create and evaluate the SREB Career and Technical Education Leadership Academy for center directors in Kentucky. Magnolia Consulting, a research organization based in Virginia, will be the co-principal investigator and external evaluator of the study.

The project will develop a model professional learning program and run a study to determine how well the model works. The results will help shape future programs for CTE center leaders.

“Kentucky’s Office of Career and Technical Education is excited to be part of this research with SREB. There is a great deal of research on leadership in other education areas, but none on how to improve professional development of CTE center principals/directors,” said David Horseman, associate commissioner of KDE’s Office of Career and Technical Education.

“This will be something that can be shared nationally when completed to improve leadership development in CTE centers.”

SREB and KDE will survey and hold discussions with leaders at Kentucky’s CTE centers to understand the professional development and any additional knowledge they need in their position.

Topics that may be explored include labor market data analysis, career pathway development, coaching new and experienced teachers, project-based learning, developing industry partnerships for work-based learning and integrating CTE with academic courses.

The Career and Technical Education Leadership Academy will include a five-day summer institute for center directors, plus four days of additional workshops, onsite leadership coaching between workshops, virtual learning sessions among participants and job-embedded activities that participants complete in their centers between workshops.

KDE is recruiting 10 center directors to participate in the pilot year. Lessons learned will guide SREB in developing the full leadership academy curriculum that will be offered for 40 to 50 directors in the third and fourth years of the grant.

The long-term project builds on SREB’s 30-plus years of leadership in improving CTE, supporting school leaders and helping prepare teachers for success – including SREB’s Teaching to Lead model for new CTE teachers and SREB SMART (Science and Math Alternative Route to Teaching) for teachers coming to the classroom from other careers.

Kentucky is home to more than 100 shared-time CTE centers – schools where students study career pathways for a portion of their day or week while also attending their regular high schools.

Center directors play a critical role in the education of their students. These professionals often are former high school administrators who need more knowledge about building local industry partnerships or working with instructors who have experience in health care, construction, advanced manufacturing and other industries, but may not have traditional preparation for teaching.

CTE center directors also may be required to work with multiple school systems and employers, build new career pathways for students headed for the workplace or college, and serve students with disabilities or other special needs.