Lamer Works to Give VACTE Students a Practical Education

Submitted by Lois Lamer. Article by Mark Lineberger, The Camp Verde Journal.

There are myriad careers out there that could appeal to a high school student.

Lois Lamer wants to make sure that students in the Verde Valley have the tools and resources they need to be successful when it comes to those careers and life in general by helping to make sure they get the exposure and hands on experience they need.

As superintendent of the Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education, Lamer helps oversee a program that provides opportunities for students at places like Camp Verde, Mingus Union and Sedona Red Rock high Schools in fields ranging from agriscience and graphic communications to automotive tech and accounting.

She’s clearly got a passion for the work. “It’s what I do,” Lamer said. “It’s what I’ve always done.”

Lamer has served as superintendent for the program for a year, but she has worked within it for the past 12’years. It’s been her line of work since the 1980s throughout different Arizona locales, including Page and Window Rock.

Lamer herself went through a similar program when she was a student, coming up through courses in business education. She said there was a need for these types of programs, especially in communities like those in the Verde Valley.

“It’s a very traditionally framed community,” Lamer said. “There’s a lot of blue-collar employment and a lot of hands-on work.”

Lamer said she absolutely didn’t want her characterization to sound negative. The work she speaks of is often absolutely critical to keeping our world functioning.

From the area’s roots in fields like agriculture, mining and ranching, new fields have sprung up in areas like computer information technology to modem techniques of employing fire science.

“It’s practical,” Lamer said. “We don’t have courses in vortex management.” There are skills, however, like welding and woodworking that can easily translate into the field of visual arts.

While not everyone has to go to college, Lamer said the program provides vital tools and experience that can serve a student well if they do go on to continue their secondary education, something she says is certainly a worthwhile goal.

Currently, Lamer said the programs serve anywhere from around 2,000 to 2,500 students across the Verde Valley. The Cottonwood resident came to the Verde Valley nearly 20 years ago, when her husband, Marv, took a job as superintendent of Mingus Union High School. Lamer’s husband also worked for years in the job she now holds.

A lot of that job involves looking after finances and keeping up with attendance and staff. There’s also the sometimes headache-inducing work of trying to keep track of what’s going on with legislation on both the federal and state level.

It’s not unusual for the rules coming out of those two levels of government to conflict, Lamer said. Lamer said a lot of programs like the one. she oversees, particularly in rural areas, have had to get used “to doing more with less.”

Lawmakers aside, in the end it’s all about preparing the students for the “real world,” so to speak. Lamer said she’s not planning on getting out of the business anytime soon. “I’ll stay as ltmg as they’ll have me,” Lamer said. “It’s my life’s work.”