Leadership Institute helps business educator achieve career goal, promote CTE

Leadership Institute graduating class
Pam Kantack
Pam Kantack

Twelve years ago, Shelley High School business educator Pam Kantack was a big proponent of every student needing a college degree—until she saw what CTE programs were doing for students.

“I didn’t really understand what CTE was until I got into the schools,” said Kantack. “There are all these different pathways that allow students to explore what they love without spending a lot of money to get the training they need to enter the workforce.” 

Since then, Kantack has been an ardent supporter of CTE programs and was eager to help more administrators, teachers, parents, and students see their value. So when she received an email from the Idaho Division of Career Technical Education (IDCTE) promoting its Leadership Institute program in 2017, she thought it would be a good way to champion CTE—and achieve her goal of becoming an administrator.

“I didn’t think I would be accepted, but I thought our school could benefit from more leadership on the CTE side, so I applied anyway,” said Kantack.

To her surprise, she was accepted. Over the next three years, Kantack balanced her responsibilities as a business educator with the requirements of the Leadership Institute program, which included attending seminars on state and national CTE policy, completing the Idaho Association of School Administrators Project Leadership program, creating a professional development plan to obtain an Idaho CTE administrator’s endorsement, and attending state and national meetings to expand her knowledge of CTE. Kantack said the state and national policy initiative was the most helpful of all the opportunities Leadership Institute provided.

“My overall goal was to make CTE a priority in our district, but I didn’t know how or who to talk to,” said Kantack. “Through Leadership Institute, I gained the confidence to talk to legislators, tell them what was going on in our classrooms, and ask for their support.”

Pam Kantack

Though the time commitment was at times intense, Kantack says the most challenging thing about the program was developing confidence in her leadership skills. 

“It probably took until the second year of the program for me to realize I had the capability to be a leader, accept that power, and move forward with it,” said Kantack. “It was truly life-changing. I didn’t consider myself a leader before Leadership Institute, but my leadership qualities have tripled since I started.”

Kantack used her newfound confidence to ask her administration if she could teach part-time and spend the rest of her time serving as the school’s CTE administrator; he agreed. Kantack has also used what she learned through Leadership Institute in her new role as president-elect of Career Technical Educators of Idaho, the professional association for career technical educators, administrators, and stakeholders in Idaho. 

Now that Kantack has graduated from Leadership Institute, she’s more driven than ever to elevate the perception of CTE and advocate for a career technical school in the Shelley School District.  “Now everybody in my school knows what CTE means, and they respect it,” said Kantack. “When people see what’s going on and what we’re producing, it’s making a difference.”

Idaho Division of Career Technical Education announces its 2021 Leadership Institute cohort

Image of the 2021 Leadership Institute cohort.

The Idaho Division of Career Technical Education (IDCTE) is pleased to announce the newest members of its Leadership Institute. Sponsored by IDCTE, the Institute is a three-year program designed to prepare the next generation of district, regional, and state leaders in Career Technical Education (CTE) through meaningful, collaborative, and reflective leadership experiences that are forward-thinking and change-oriented. Participants learn about state and national governance and laws, organization and administration and funding, and support for career technical education institutions.  

To participate in the Institute, a member must apply and be recommended by their supervisor, and be a member of the Association for Career and Technical Education. Applicants are then ranked based on their qualifications and selected by the IDCTE staff to ensure equal geographic and institutional representation across the state. Only five members are initiated into the Institute each year, and 18 cohorts have completed the program since its inception in 1999. Its 90 graduates have become leaders of secondary, postsecondary and adult programs in Idaho.

The following 2021 cohort members were welcomed into the Institute during the kick-off meeting held last week in Boise:

Teresa Danielson is a family and consumer sciences teacher at Mountain View High School in Meridian. According to Cliff Rice, Danielson’s principal, she is “organized, passionate, and driven to give her students and her organization 100% every day.” Danielson has received New Teacher of the Year awards from both Career Technical Educators of Idaho and the Idaho Association of Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences. She serves as the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) advisor for District 3, advises the six state FCCLA officers, and is a frequent consultant for state and national events. She has a master’s degree in education in career and technical education leadership from Utah State University.

Vicki Isakson serves as director of Workforce Training and Community Education at North Idaho College (NIC). Lita Burns, vice president for instruction at NIC, considers Isakson to be a strong collaborator who will “build bridges and pathways across the state.” Among her many accomplishments, Isakson developed the first school-to-registered apprenticeship programs in Idaho and created the long-running Hard Hats, Hammers, and Hot Dogs annual event to introduce students to the construction, manufacturing and wood products industries. She is currently seeking approval of nine federal Registered Apprenticeship Programs to provide instruction and sponsorship for workforce training. She holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University and is a certified master trainer in the Workplace Excellence Series.

Chet Jackson is the instructor for residential construction technology at Cassia Regional Technical Center (CRTC). He believes the job force crisis is an ongoing issue in Idaho and should be addressed by educating the public regarding the importance of hands-on careers. According to Curtis Richins, CRTC’s director, Jackson has excitement, enthusiasm, and “the ability to monitor his students’ desires and assess students’ needs.” This has led to joint projects with other CRTC departments and the establishment of a new cabinetry program, thus providing students with even more employable skills. He holds a bachelor’s degree in workplace training and leadership from Idaho State University and is working on a master’s degree.

Stephanie Mai is the Program Quality Manager for Health Professions and Public Safety at IDCTE. Her vision is for CTE pathway programs to become as highly regarded as AP and honors classes. Her experience as a postsecondary instructor and serving on several boards and technical advisory committees enable her to see future CTE programs as collaborations among high school, higher education institutions, and industry. “Stephanie is such a positive, fun person, and has an incredible ability to connect with others and build relationships with them. The Institute will help her see processes and approaches through the lens of others in the CTE system, which will help IDCTE be more responsive to its stakeholders,” said Adrian San Miguel, director of program services at IDCTE and Mai’s supervisor. She holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and performance from Idaho State University and is currently working on her CTE administrator’s certification.

Dr. Yvonne Thurber is the principal of Sandcreek Middle School in Idaho Falls. She hopes helping CTE grow in Idaho will strengthen the economy and provide opportunities for rewarding careers without the time and expense of a four-year institution. Thurber is a project leadership liaison who works diligently to ensure that her teachers in family consumer science, technology, and construction and engineering have the same opportunities as high school teachers. “Dr. Thurber has a firm commitment to doing the right thing for students. She is willing to have crucial conversations and make necessary changes to achieve better outcomes for her students,” said Dr. Scott Woolstenhulme, Bonneville School District superintendent. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Idaho State University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Northwest Nazarene University.

“We’re excited to welcome this talented group of educators to the Leadership Institute and look forward to continuing to build leadership skills for those within our career technical education system in Idaho,” said Clay Long, state administrator.