Welcome to February. It is National CTE Month and the month of Arizona’s Mid-Winter Leadership Conference in Prescott.

We have just concluded our 13th annual ACTEAZ/ACOVA Mid-Winter Leadership Conference in Prescott. If “learning and leadership are indispensable to each other”, as JFK once said, then our leadership conference was a rousing success. We had fantastic and motivational keynote speakers and presenters. It was non-stop learning from beginning to end. It’s such a great time of year for a conference like this. What can be more energizing in the middle of winter than new learning? We also can’t help but be encouraged by the current positioning of CTE. Superintendent John Huppenthal truly understands that CTE Works. Through his vision and leadership CTE is a vital component of the new strategic plan for Arizona’s education future and an integral part of the definition of a highly effective school. Through the direction and focus of Associate Superintendent Marv Lamer, we can see others beginning to fully grasp the real concept of what is means to prepare a college AND career ready student. Along with Deputy Superintendent Dan Brown, they spoke of CTE as the real contextual answer to improving all student achievement in all content areas. These are exciting times for CTE in our state.

Speaking of exciting times, February is also National CTE Month. The climate and opportunity to expand the public’s awareness of CTE has never been better. It is time to put the public’s perception of vocational training behind us and celebrate the power and the difference of Career and Technical Education. National ACTE and the US Department of Education have joined forces to provide a month-long focus on CTE. ACTE and ACTEAZ encourage you to promote and publicize your programs. Take full advantage of all the avenues from mainstream media to social media to show and tell anyone who will listen the power of what you and your students do in your schools everyday. The Department of Education, in the meantime, will draw attention to the need to transform secondary and postsecondary programs that are no longer relevant in today’s marketplace. In speaking of this collaboration, John White of the USDE said, “The 2013 celebration marks a pivotal moment for CTE. This year, we all have a chance to work together to promote an increase in rigor and relevance and to support replication of programs that work.” Showcase that CTE Works! Please let ACTEAZ know of your activities so we may share them with the rest of the state and nation. If you wish to follow this national conversation on Twitter and/or share your great CTE programs use hashtag #CTEMonth.

I would like to thank all the keynote speakers, presenters, vendors and behind-the-scenes people who made the Mid-Winter Leadership Conference such a success. A special thanks goes to Lisa Doll and the board of ACOVA. We are so fortunate to be part of this great partnership with them. Thank you also to all of the CTE professionals who are using CTE Month to highlight and strengthen CTE in our state. Thank you for your efforts and participation.

It may have been a long and frigid winter for CTE, but spring is in the air. All the elements are present. The seeds that have been so carefully planted for CTE are about to burst into bloom. Please step forward and be part of the plan, part of the success and part of the celebration. There is still much work to be done. Your voice and your actions have never been more vital than now. Please consider joining other CTE professionals at the National Policy Seminar, March 4-6, in Washington D.C.