ACTE Announces Arizona Massage Therapy Instructor as National Award Finalist

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) announced Benjamin Barth, a massage therapy instructor at Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology (CAVIT) in Coolidge, Arizona, as the 2015 ACTE Region V New Teacher of the Year. The ACTE New Teacher of the Year award recognizes CTE teachers with three to five years’ experience (at the middle, secondary or postsecondary level) who have made significant contributions toward innovative and unique CTE programs and shown a professional commitment early in their careers.

Benjamin Barth entered the world of education after working in the massage therapy industry for 19 years. When he became an instructor at CAVIT in 2009, Barth identified the need to provide realistic work experiences for his students and opened a 17-bay student-run massage clinic. Since the clinic’s inception, his students have provided quick chair massages and full-body massages to over 7,500 massage clients ranging from young adults to the elderly, who often book months in advance for an appointment. This complimentary service alleviates the pain of many in the community and provides a free and substantial medical benefit to those in need. The students’ professional customer care generates overwhelmingly positive post-treatment evaluations, and the program has garnered multiple awards in the state.

In 2010, Barth elevated expectations for student performance by bringing in industry professionals to evaluate his students’ proficiency. Over the past five years, his graduating students have received a 100 percent pass rate on all their skill practical assessments, and the model has been so successful that it has become mandatory for all CTE programs at CAVIT. Having industry managers and business owners perform formal assessments of the students has opened doors for graduating students, who have been offered paid internships and scholarships in local physical therapy and chiropractic clinics, and have been recruited to work full and part time at clinics across the state. Superintendent Mike Glover says, “Ben truly brings to the classroom a teaching model that every new teacher should strive to follow.”

Barth is one of five finalists for the 2016 national title. The national winner will be announced at the ACTE Awards Banquet, a dinner and award presentation recognizing the best CTE educators in the country. The event will take place on Thursday evening, November 19, during ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Awards Banquet is sponsored by Express Employment Professionals, Kuder, CareerSafe, Certiport, and Stratasys. For more information about the ACTE Excellence Awards, visit our webpage.