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Virginia ACTE is an affiliate of the national Association for Career and Technical Education.

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President’s Message

Laura Smith
2020–2021 Virginia ACTE President

July 1, 2020

The Virginia Association for Career and Technical Education’s mission is dedicated to expanding relevant and rigorous career and technical education (CTE) programs, enhancing leadership among its members, and influencing public policy for the benefit of CTE students and professionals and developing a competitive workforce in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

It is truly my honor and privilege to serve as the 2020-2021 Virginia ACTE president. As our slogan states, I am proud to say that I am, truly, CTE. My CTE path began as a junior in high school. I have been fortunate to experience CTE as a student, a business and industry supporter and alumni member and, now, as a classroom instructor. I know first-hand the difference CTE and our career and technical student organizations can make in a young person’s life. I also know, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that I am where I am today because I chose a CTE path and embraced all it had to offer.

The 2020-2021 school year ahead of us is going to be unlike any that we have ever had. With all of the unknowns and uncertainties the year is starting off with, we are all going to struggle. What we all have to remember is that we are not alone in this adventure. Somewhere across the Commonwealth another CTE teacher is trying to plan how to teach their craft virtually. I am certain that this will be a learning year for us all. During this school year, we have got to work together and help each other. Even with all of the challenging aspects to it, though, I see this year as being one of amazing collaboration. Membership and involvement in our professional organizations — ACTE, Virginia ACTE, and our individual divisions — will be extremely important. Professional development, task forces, work groups, and many other collaborative opportunities are happening now with even more in planning stages. Educators within Career Clusters are meeting remotely to plan ways to help one another and our students through the coming year.

It is also going to be a year where our collective voices need to be heard among local, state, and national legislators. Legislation is passed often by people who have no idea what it is to be in a classroom. They do not know what the needs are unless someone speaks up! Part of Virginia ACTE’s mission is to influence public policy for the benefit of CTE students and professionals. In doing so, the Issues and Solutions document that is created by our public policy team is provided to and discussed with members of the Virginia General Assembly while our legislators are in Richmond. We, as CTE instructors, should be working with, talking with, and inviting our legislators to visit our schools on the local level as well. Issues tend to impact us more when we have a visual of what the issue is.

I know this year is going to be challenging. But, I would like to encourage current members to “bring a friend or two” to Virginia ACTE. Encourage your colleagues within your own buildings to become part of a state and national organization that focuses on building CTE programs, teachers, and students! Encourage them to get involved, not only in ACTE and Virginia ACTE but also in their divisions. For those educators new to Virginia ACTE, welcome! Get involved! Our collaborative efforts this year with others throughout the state will help all of us and, most importantly, our students to have a successful school year!

I am looking forward to serving as your Virginia ACTE president this year. I am also looking forward to working with you all. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. We are definitely in this together, and together, we will surely have a great year!

Laura Smith