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.
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.”