January 15, 2008

Editor: Steve Czech


Presidents Report

Karen Allund, Work Coordinator
Mounds View Schools


As February (CTE month) approaches, there are many things to celebrate.

The national ACTE conference which was held in December was outstanding. Robert Lindgren, Val Mattiolli, Cathy Braun, Bonnie Jackson, and I were able to attend from the MNACTE/SNP board. We learned a lot from Ruby Payne, the opening keynote speaker, who spoke about economics and the role they play in education and from Erik Weihenmayer, the closing speaker. He spoke about overcoming adversity to reach set goals and how we, as educators, can help students in this area. There were many breakouts held over the course of three days that were interesting, educational, and inspiring.

We also celebrate the students in our CTE programs and the efforts both that we and they put into making our programs special, unique, and successful. We celebrate the employers that work with us to keep our students working and learning. With the downturn in the economy, it's not always easy to maintain jobs. We also celebrate us! We work diligently with the community, parents, and students to get the most out of our efforts. We thrive on student success and create ways to achieve it. It is through CTE programs that many students learn the skills necessary for life after school and it's nice to have an entire month dedicated to celebrating that fact.

One thing that has occurred that isn't so festive is the fact that the Special Needs Division of ACTE has dropped below the 1,000 member requirement. Therefore, we are not recognized with a seat on the board or a voice in Washington. If we can get enough people to join ACTE under the Special Needs Division before July 1, 2008 we can get reinstated for next year. We are currently listed as "emerging" With a few more members, we can get out of that emerging status and have another reason to celebrate! To join, go to http://www.acteonline.org Don't forget to specify "Special Needs Division."

Enjoy this cold Minnesota weather and celebrate CTE month!

Knights Designs-Irondale High School
A Student-run Business

Ian Murphy, Student
Irondale High School, Moundsview, MN

We are a student run business that provides opportunities for students to learn about business in the real world. The ordering,, marketing, advertising,, distribution and accounting are all managed by students at Irondale High School in New Brighton Minnesota. Students carefully design custom-made lanyards used primarily to display teacher I.D. badges, and the lanyards are sold for $10 each. Lanyards are necklaces with a key ring at the bottom for holding keys and badges. We would also like to introduce our latest production unit, The VisiMate. This innovative machine, makes awards, stickers, static clings, and so much more. These items can also be custom made for the user's specific desires. Our selection is almost limitless. Prices are being discussed for our VisiMate items, and will be finalized shortly. Questions? Contact students Ian Murphy or Ian Orf by emailing us at knightsdesigns@moundsviewschools.org or contact our work coordinator Beth Quest at 651 786-5200 extension 2449 or email her at beth.quest@moundsviewschools.org

The students pictured below are from left to right:: Jamie Aquirre Santos, Emily Chandler, Lexi Evenson, Kristen Juelich, Hilary Carr, Laura Webber

Transition Disabled or Regular CTE Program?

Al Hauge, Career Guidance and Transition Disabled Specialist
Minnesota Department of Education

What belongs in a regular career and technical education program and what should be part of a transition-disabled program? First, make sure people understand that decisions around the above programs should be made on the basis of what is appropriate for the student, NOT on the basis of funding. It is always easier to respond to questions when it is first understood what the needs of the individual student are.

Many students with disabilities may be served in REGULAR work-based learning programs, including internships, interrelated cooperatives, diversified occupations programs, or work-experience programs for disadvantaged students. In such a case there is no requirement that the teacher hold special education licensure, just as there is no requirement for a math teacher to hold special education licensure when students with disabilities are mainstreamed into the math class. It is not the fact that a student has an individual educational plan that requires special education licensure, but the severity (level) of the disability and whether or not the I.E.P. requires intervention by certified special education staff.

IF it is determined that the school has a large enough population of students with disabilities severe enough to merit a specially designed program of work-based learning, it is then that a transition-disabled program is established (most commonly work experience-handicapped). In this case the teacher must be appropriately licensed either with an old vocational license (e.g. work experience - handicapped or work experience - handicapped/disadvantaged) or with a combination of a secondary special education license and a work-based learning endorsement. Transition-disabled programs must be approved by the state using the program approval process. It is also appropriate for a district that does not have a transition-disabled program to contract for that service from another school district or approved private vendor.

There are instances where a school may develop a program under its special education department that simulates work-based learning in a confined (usually in-school) environment. These programs, sometimes referred to as enclaves, provide students with a simulated work environment providing services for the school or community. Examples might be classes of students with severe disabilities who, under the direct supervision of special education staff, perform copying and collating or similar services. Some recent confusion has arisen in programs such as these where they have been titled work-based learning by the district, though special education has a more appropriate term for these activities, "work activities". Enclaves or similar simulated instructional programs do NOT fit under the transition-disabled (career and technical education) program, are NOT approved through our program approval process, and do NOT require the work-based learning endorsement.

We are working with special education to clarify when a program legitimately belongs under special education (such as enclaves) and when a program should be approved and reported as a transition-disabled (career & technical) program. When it is completed, both special education and we will distribute this clarification widely.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about the above. 

A First Rate Convention

Bonnie Jackson, Work Coordinator
St. Paul Schools

The ACTE convention in Vegas was first rate. One out of five attendees were first timers and there were lots of young faces excited to be part of a national convention. It is inspiring to know the torch of CTE is being passed and the next generation CTE teachers are investing in their knowledge of current practices and trends. Ruby Payne was the opening keynote speaker and I highly anticipated meeting and hearing her speak. When I taught at Saint Paul Arlington High School we studied her writings and she changed the way I view students of poverty. Ruby Payne provides insight into the world of children in generational poverty. She talked about herself, her experiences and how she got where she is today. If you haven't read her books I strongly encourage you take the time to read her writings. Another highlight was the "Presidents Reception." They had cowboy activities, a band and an auction. The other big event in town that week was the National Rodeo Finals. The cowboys and cowgirls were definitely in town and around town. If you like country music Vegas was the spot. The trade show was full of new technology and opened my eyes to how things are changing!

The "cherry on the Sunday" was the final keynote speaker, Erik Weihenmayer. Erik Weihenmayer is the only blind person to have climbed the "Seven Summits," the tallest peak on every continent. He has scaled the 3000 foot rock face of El Capitan, skied down the tallest peak in Europe, and guided Tibetan blind teenagers to 21,500 feet on the north side of Mt. Everest. Erik is also a prolific speaker and author of two books. You could have heard a pin drop in the convention center when Erik was speaking. He is a teacher also and has high regards for the profession. Needless to say I and probably everyone else was truly inspired by Erik and his accomplishments. I purchased a signed copy of his book and am anticipating reading it. He also has a DVD of his climb that would be a great DVD for students to view. It is titled "Farther Than the Eye Can See."

There was also a little gambling, good food, mild weather and great casino sightseeing. Next year, "Charlotte!"

Work Experience News Article

Betty McNiff, Work Coordinator
Park High School, Cottage Grove

Park High School in Cottage has a very active Work Based Learning Program. Six Sections of the Fundamental Work Related class are offered for the 2007-2008 school year. This class is designed for all students with an IEP. The students are required to take the course once each semester in order to earn a work credit if they have a part time job. We currently have 11 students on job sites earning this work credit, however there are over 69 students registered to take the class during the school year. Our primary focus is on students who need to acquire some skills before getting their first job. The curriculum targets job getting and keeping skills. Students must perform mock interviews, complete applications accurately; complete a resume, cover letter and thank you letters. Part of the curriculum is Changing Lives, Character Building, IRLD Kansas Strategy, Self Advocacy Program, and I-PLAN; career exploration.

There are also two sections of the Basic Work Based Program for the DCD level students. We have two teachers for this program and 14 students enrolled. Two students work part time in the community. These students work on classroom skills such as vocabulary building and hands on work skills. They volunteer at a Women's shelter one day a week and are participating in a school wide recycling program. We are developing an "at school" job site for these students by doing office work such as stuffing envelopes, labeling, collating, folding and simple projects that office personnel may find tedious and not have the time to complete. We have had four jobs to complete so far this term. We have advertised within the school district and among businesses in the community.

National ACTE Convention

Cathy Braun and Valerie Mattioli, Work Coordinators
Wayzata Schools

We both had the privilege of attending the National ACTE Convention in Las Vegas, NV in December 2007. It was a professional development opportunity filled with speakers, more than 300 sessions and lots of new materials.

Opening speakers were Ruby Payne and Erik Weihenmayer. Ruby put a light on poverty that helped us better understand some of our students' choices and needs. One of the facts she shared was that the correlation between poverty and disability is higher than that between poverty and race. The second opening speaker, Erik, the only blind man in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest, was an incredibly inspirational speaker. He is a man of amazing inner strength who has overcome huge challenges. His story would be a great one to share with many, as it would certainly be an inspiration to all.

We attended many breakout sessions throughout the two days; but there were a couple that we found of particular interest. One of these sessions was titled "Giving Business and Industry What They Want: Good Work Ethics" by Brent Askings of Western KYU and Ellie Pribble, RN at Harrison ATC. The general theme of the session is that work ethic is the key and central problem in hiring new employees. They offered a website that contains valuable information regarding work ethics. This website, which would prove helpful to work coordinators, is http://www.coe.uga.edu/workethic/

A second session, of great use, was titled "Digital Tools and Blogging in Education: Basic Skills Every Educator Needs to Master", by James Stanger, Ph.D., CIW. He covered digital tools, blogging (what it is, how can we use it, education blog sites), and many quick technological add-ons and techniques. He was a wealth of information and was pretty entertaining too. Two websites he discussed, that are free and have some cool tools, are http://www.gimp.org and http://www.openoffice.org.

Exhibitors were numerous. We picked up a wide variety of information. We are very interested in VariQuest Visual Learning Tools, and have an appointment scheduled with a dealer to give us a more in depth in service about their materials. Since we are in the process of developing an on site work room we are very interested in the VariQuest Design Center which can make posters, banners, awards and stickers; in addition to the Awards Maker 400 which creates awards, bumper stickers, name tags and more.


February 14, 2008: MnACTE/SNP Board meeting at Hennepin Technical College, Brooklyn Park MN. We will be changing our meeting room to D156. The usual room is booked. Be sure to come for the bufett lunch at the gourmet dining room. Cost is $10.00. Contact Bonnie Holt if you plan to come for lunch Bonnie.Holt@anoka.k12.mn.us

March 13, April 10, and May 8, 2008: MnACTE/SNP Board meetings at Hennepin Technical College, Brooklyn Park MN.

June 16-17, 2008: ACTE Region III Conference in St. Paul, MN. Registration information at http://www.acteonline.org/about/states/MN.cfm

December 4-6, 2008 ACTE Annual Convention in Charlotte, NC http://acteonline.org

March 5-6, 2009: Mark your calendars! MnACTE/SNP Statewide Comprehensive Conference at Edinburgh USA, Brooklyn Park, MN

Are you on Al Hauge's email group? Al works with the Adult and Career Education Divisoin at MDE as the Career Guidance and Transition Disabled Specialist. Contact Al and he'll include you in Transition Disabled/Work Based Learning developments for youth with disabilities from the Minnesota Department of Education. al.hauge@state.mn.us.

Partnerships Within The Schools

Valerie Mattioli, Cathy Braun and Michelle Howe, Work Coordinators
Wayzata Schools

Wayzata District #284 special education work program has began a partnership with the districts Custodial staff that we hope will last a long time. In March 2006, Joe Matson (Buildings and Grounds Director) and Mike Johnson (Assistant Building and Grounds Director) approached our special education work program with the possibility of a partnership between our work program and the District laundry service. Our first step was to present a bid to the District; this bid was reviewed by Mr. Matson and Mr. Johnson and then was sent on to the Union for their approval. Our work program was ecstatic when the Union gave its seal of approval. We now have two students working in the morning for one hour and two students working in the afternoon for one hour. They are paid on a sliding scale by ability with most reaching minimum wage by their first 6 months. With a whole year behind us in this endeavor, we feel it has been a huge success, giving many students the opportunity to learn beginning work skills. Some of our students who started in this position have moved on to paid employment within the community. If it wasn't for this program, many of these students may not have had the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to maintain a paid position in the community.

This past November we once again were approached by Mr. Matson and Mr. Johnson about the possibility of our program maintaining the package delivery service that the custodians currently maintain. We again jumped at the chance to employ our students within the school district. Again it was presented to the Custodian Union and given their seal of approval. Currently we have two students in the morning and two students in the afternoon working one hour a day for each student. These students get paid the minimum wage. Even though we are only a month into the new job, we are anticipating this also to be a success.

Relationships Are What Make a 'SNPer'

Steve Czech, Work Coordinator
Anoka Hennepin District #11

My first year of teaching at Backus Elementary School the media specialist retired. I gave her a card emphasizing my observation of the bookends that we were. We laughed. The source of my amusement was the prospect of looking forward while her's was peering back at the memories of a full career involving thousands of students and hundreds of colleagues.

Now in mid-life, enough time has passed that my career has developed a history, however I have many years yet to record. In contrast, two members of our organization have reached the retirement milestone, Barb Weldon and Mick Seme. Both have been members for many years and have served on the board of directors. I've developed quite an appreciation for them over time, and their commitment helps define why I want to be involved in MnACTE/SNP.

When I initially began attending board meetings in the late 90s, there was a contingent of board members we called the "Duluth group" of which Mick was a member. You may recall the others; Jim Anderson, Jerry Lassila and Tom Eidal. All were very passionate about their work. Some immediate observations I made about Mick were his delightful sense of humor, aptitude for practical solutions, commitment to students, and how much he valued his family. He is the kind of guy you want to be around because you know spending time with him will be fun and productive. I spoke with Mick recently. He stated that he officially retired 9/11/07 but was preparing for his retirement party at the Proctor Community Center, which was held on January 15, 2008. Northern Lights Special Education Cooperative continues to search for his replacement, and Mick has heard from community members and teachers that his impact has been missed. In his retirement, Mick has done a lot of gardening, general work around the house, and continues to meet his retired work coordinator buddies, Jerry and Jim, for coffee once a month. He is also planning a trip with his wife to Wyoming and Idaho this spring to visit family. Mick says, "Hi, I miss ya'! I'm up here in the woods, and I like to stay in the woods! It's too busy down there."

I have known Barb since I began working for Anoka-Hennepin in 1997. We have worked in the same building for the past 5 or 6 years and have team-taught, shared many conversations, and found humor in numerous situations that only our clientele can produce. I marvel at her ability to maintain hope and act as an agent for change in even the most difficult of students - all while maintaining such a calm demeanor. Also someone who values her family, I will miss Barb's stories about her children, grandchildren and husband. To my amusement, she has given many accounts of friends in predicaments, vowing never to get herself in similar situations! It will be strange when Barb cleans out her desk at the end of January and no longer walks through the doors of Transition Plus. Her immediate plans for retirement are to sleep-in and read the paper. Barb would also like to do a little traveling, start playing bridge again, and spend some time with two of her sisters who are also retired. A final priority will be to "run around doing things" with her husband, Loren. I envy her plans to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of doing what she wants when she wants to.

Unknowingly, these two professionals have helped shape my career. I will miss them not so much for the tasks they completed to maintain the strength of MnACTE/SNP, but more so for the quality people they are and the integrity they brought to our profession. In the end, it's relationships that matter, and it's fun to build them when you're chasing a common goal with such wonderful people. Mick and Barb, thanks for all you've given and enjoy retirement!

Bob Lindgren
ACTE Region III Award of Merit Winner

MNACTE Press Release

During ACTE's National Convention held in Las Vegas this past December, Region III presented their 2007 awards to a number of outstanding recipients. Included in this group was MnACTE/SNP's Bob Lindgren who received the Region III Minnesota Award of Merit. This award is for professionals who have made significant contributions to CTE, ACTE, and/or their state association (MnACTE). Bob was recognized in Minnesota at the November Metro Career Pathways Conference for this award along with Cliff Vrieze.

Bob Lindgren has been a work experience coordinator for students with disabilities for the past 30 years at Park Rapids Area High School. He is highly commended for maintaining his work experience program at Park Rapids over the years. Despite tight budgets and greater demands on school resources, Bob's program has stayed intact for at-risk and disabled students in this greater Minnesota community.

Bob has been very active in ACTE, MnACTE, and MnACTE/SNP for many years. He has been a strong advocate for the state association, MnACTE, and has encouraged affiliate associations to participate in state activities. Bob was the president of MnACTE during the 2006-07 school year, and also served as President of MnACTE/SNP for 3 years. He is near completion of a four year commitment to the ACTE By-laws Committee as Region III's representative. Bob has been a dedicated leader of these organizations for many years and was honored for his dedication and commitment as MnACTE's Teacher of the Year in 2006.

Pictured from left to right: Blaine Larson, MnACTE Teacher of the Year; Jeff Eppen, MnACTE Outstanding New Career and Technical Teacher of the Year; Robert Lindgren, ACTE Region III Award of Merit

2007 National ACTE Convention

Robert W. Lindgren, Work Coordinator
Park Rapids Area Schools

The 2007 ACTE National Conference is over and was a huge success. It was held December 13-15 in Las Vegas with over 6,300 in attendance including just over 1,000 first-timers. The time went by very quickly as we were busy all day long with meetings, sessions, visiting the EXPO's venders, and of course networking with others from around the country. Wednesday evening started the activities with about 40 attendees from Minnesota gathering for a meal and an evening of relaxation.

Again this year I arrived a day early for the meetings on Wednesday. This is my last year serving on ACTE's By-laws Standing Committee. Our meeting involved only a few changes, which were approved. The main change proposed was that beginning in FY10. The Board of Directors will set the dues for all classifications of members. Visit ACTE's website: http://www.acteonline.org or read the October issue of Techniques for the by-laws and changes.  I attended Region III meetings on Wednesday and Saturday to give my report and learn what is happening in Region III. Minnesota will be hosting the ACTE Region III Leadership Conference June 16-18, 2008. Start planning now to attend. There will be general and division specific sessions available. The registration form and general information is available at: http://www.acteonline.org/about/states/MN.cfm,. Click on the Region III Conference on the right side.

Each morning started with a general session including a speaker, plus the awards presentation on Friday. The opening speaker was Ruby Payne, the author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty. She spoke about how educators can help students from poverty succeed. She discussed the transition between the classes and the unwritten rules that are prevalent in each. She stressed the importance of how we as educators need to understand this transition. The reason she teaches about hidden rules is this: Hidden rules break relationships. Relationships, or as it's referred to in the research, "social capital and connectedness," makes all the difference in the world. That's how you learn to negotiate new environments. To be successful in school students from poverty must survive differently, and it is up to us as educators to help with that transition. In closing she said, "To survive in poverty, one must rely upon nonverbal, sensory, and reactive skills. To survive in school, one must use verbal, abstract, and proactive skills. The challenge is to help in that transition."

Throughout the days I would attend some of the breakout sessions as well as the EXPO with over 200 exhibits. One session dealt with FERPA and its impact in CTE, particularly the work-based programs. The speaker suggested having a release of information form and/or an application form for the program. Also, if you're having students working in the school, make sure they are aware of FERPA and sign a confidentially agreement. I also attended Jim Stone's presentation on the Future of CTE Research and Professional Development and what is happening with NCCTE. He gave an overview of the past few years and then went into discussion of proposed studies. Plans include exploring dropouts, high school reform, science in CTE, student organizations, etc. If you want more information on NCCTE, check their web site: www.nccte.org. Friday I attended the Special Populations Division meeting and awards, the state officers luncheon and meeting, and the Town Meeting with panels and discussions regarding the various changes and direction that ACTE will be taking.

Saturday's closing session speaker was Erik Weihenmayer. Erik is an athlete, teacher, author, and climber. In 2001 he became the only blind person to climb Mount Everest, and in 2002 finished his seven-year quest to climb the Seven Summits (the tallest peak in every continent). He shared his story of inspiration to keep us motivated to encourage and support our students to success no matter what adversity they face. He talked about how adversity actually can shape our character, clarify our priorities, define our path, and fuel our greatness. He described someone who can take things that are traditionally seen as disadvantages and turn them into advantages, in other words, turning lead into gold: alchemists. He also talked about his team and what he'd learned about building good teams and being part of good teams. Erik stated that he knew teachers and administrators have to be good and effective team members to transfer their skills and knowledge to students. When he finished, everyone was very inspired to return to our classrooms and make a positive impact. Saturday afternoon was the Assembly of Delegates when the By-law changes were approved and other business took place. It seems that the time you spend at the conference is so beneficial and you bring back so much information that a person wishes all their colleagues could attend. Please read the other articles those attending also submitted to the ECHO.

As in the past, I would encourage you to strongly consider attending next year's ACTE National Convention in Charlotte, NC, December 4-6, 2008.

Minnesota Association of Career and Technical Education