Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education Event

Submitted by: Rachael Mann, Arizona FEA State Director

Six Educators Rising representatives, including Samantha Melendrez, president of the Educators Rising Arizona State Officer Team; Trevor G. Browne, graduate; and Rachael Mann, State Director of Educators Rising Arizona, were selected to participate in a White House Career and Technical Education (CTE) Convening: “Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education” on Tuesday, June 30, 2015.

“It is an honor to witness this recognition of Career and Technical Education at the White House and to further the discussion of the positive work that is happening in Educators Rising Arizona. I was proud to hear our very own Samantha Melendrez close out the day as the final speaker at the event and to encourage her peers to follow their passion and pursue careers as educators,” said Rachael Mann. “Career and Technical Education is what’s right with education in Arizona and to hear our First Lady recognize the importance of CTE and to position our programs as viable options is pivotal in increasing the awareness of our work.”

Around 150 students, teachers, and education leaders were in attendance at the event. Over the course of the day, the White House showcased innovative projects developed by middle and high school students and led panel discussions on moving forward and replicating high-quality Career and Technical Education programs.

The Celebrating Innovations in Career and Technical Education Event follows the “I don’t know how many know about CTE but more people should,” said Michelle Obama, “These are high-quality programs that push students academically… these opportunities are leading to a wave of innovation.”

Samantha Melendrez has worked hard to prove herself as a leader in Educators Rising over the past year and was selected as one of three students out of 14,000 across the nation to represent the organization. When asked about the White House experience, Samantha responded, “I come from a family where I’m a first generation college student. Neither of my parents were born in the United States so for their oldest daughter to travel to the White House was fascinating to them. After hearing the First Lady and her support for Career and Technical Education, they are beginning to understand the importance as well. The question I have for my younger siblings is not “Are you taking CTE” but “What CTE class are you taking.”