October 31, 2016

CTE Principals Collaborate, Network and Learn Together

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Principals and supervisors from county vocational-technical schools throughout New Jersey work together at the professional learning community seminar

Thanks to a partnership between the NJ Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) and the NJ Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools (NJCCVTS), more than 30 principals and supervisors in career and technical education high schools engaged in a day of intense professional learning focused on their unique needs and challenges.

The October 19 workshop, Establishing Meaningful Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in Career and Technical Education, focused on the tools that school leaders can use to develop productive teams of CTE teachers working together for continuous improvement of programs.

As leaders of schools that emphasize careers as much as college preparation and extracurricular activities, vocational school leaders face unique staff, building and student challenges.

But there are limited opportunities for principals and supervisors from county vocational and other CTE-focused schools to network, collaborate and learn from each other.

So NJCCVTS asked NJPSA and the Foundation for Educational Administration to build upon their extensive array of forums and professional learning opportunities for school leaders by working together to create some unique CTE-focused workshops.

Recognizing the need for career and technical educators to take the lead in this effort, the two organizations tapped three highly-accomplished county vocational school leaders from different backgrounds and district structures to develop and lead the first daylong session for their colleagues.

The goal was to equip principals and supervisors with the tools they need to implement effective PLCs with career teachers who come from a multitude of backgrounds and varied industry experiences.

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PCTI Principal Michael Parent, MCVSD Principal Denise Kebeck and BCTS Assistant Superintendent Rich Panicucci designed and facilitated the seminar

Richard Panicucci, assistant superintendent for instruction at Bergen County Technical Schools, Michael Parent, principal of Passaic County Technical Institute and Denise Kebeck, principal of shared-time programs for Monmouth County Vocational Schools, led the daylong session that addressed critical topics including:

• Value of PLCs for students and professionals
• Effective norms to guide PLCs
• Analyzing CTE data to drive program improvement
• Problem identification
• Gaining consensus
• Ensuring follow-through

Key to the success of the day was engagement in some mock-PLC activities in which small groups analyzed sample CTE data from technical skill assessments (NOCTI), surveys, teacher observations, and other sources.

The response was uniformly positive.

“We don’t get a lot of ‘CTE togetherness’ opportunities so this was like a family reunion,” facilitator Mike Parent said at the end of the day.

Participants, facilitators, and the collaborating partners from NJPSA and NJCCVTS agreed that based on the initial success of the first workshop, opportunities should be expanded in two directions:

• A follow-up session for the initial participants with opportunities to review and analyze district-specific data
• A repeat of the initial session for other school leaders who could not attend in October.

In the meantime, Dr. Parent invited the group and other CTE principals and supervisors to join an online forum he created here.

Judy Savage
Executive Director
NJCCVTS