CTE event provides ideas, inspiration for teachers and leaders

Andy Jensen, of Chester Area High School, explains how to incorporate Leadership and Career Development events into agriculture classroom curriculums during a the second breakout session on Monday morning at the South Dakota Career and Technical Education Conference. (Abbie Lambert / Republic)

More than 300 of the state’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers and administrators gathered to learn, share, and network with industries and other teachers during the annual South Dakota Career and Technical Education Conference, which started Monday in Mitchell.

The annual conference, sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Education and in cooperation with the South Dakota Association for Career and Technical Education, aims to provide a professional development conference where teachers, administrators and industries can share their knowledge on different topics and explore practices to help better prepare students for their futures. That is accomplished through breakout sessions, keynote speakers and industry tours.

“It’s intended to provide them a chance to network, learn about updated curriculum and tour some of the industries so they can get some ideas and connections that way,” said Erin Larsen, who serves as assistant director in the Division of Career and Technical Education in the South Dakota Department of Education.

On Monday, conference attendees participated in three breakout sessions with each session providing 15 different topic options. Sessions covered a wide range of topics stemming from leadership, photography, new developments within the CTE fields and substance abuse.

“We try really hard throughout the year to develop those breakouts to make it meaningful for the teachers and administrators to come to it,” Laura Scheibe, director of Career and Technical Education at the South Dakota Department of Education. “We take a fresh look at what we want offered and who wants to prepare a breakout session every year.”


Several sessions throughout the conference brought teachers and administrators the opportunity to learn and work with representatives from the four technical schools in South Dakota. The sessions aimed to provide guidance and support and shared dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities that the four South Dakota technical institutes offer.

“The pathway to the future is more defined and supported by technical schools,” Mitchell Technical Institute Vice President for Academics Carol Grode-Hanks said. “They will find all the technical schools are willing to work with students; we want students to succeed.”

A big emphasis the South Dakota Department of Education pushed this year stemmed from the recent reauthorization of the federal act, Perkins V, signed into law on July 31, 2018. According to Scheibe, the state Department of Education is focused on reframing career and technical education in the state for the better and providing more resources and support to schools and their faculty.

“From the department standpoint, providing those resources and helping teachers get up to speed on what their role in this process is, has been a focus of the breakouts we as a department are sponsoring,” Scheibe said. “I would say it’s a lot less of the talk down approach and more how can we help you discover where are the strengths in your program and where are your gaps.”

For newer teachers like Scotland School District agriculture teacher Lindsey Kaufmann, the conference gives newer teachers support and ideas for their curriculum.

“You get a lot of information,” Kaufmann said. “You can pick and choose what you want and see how other programs do things.”

On Tuesday, teachers and administrators will receive the chance to tour several industry facilities around the city of Mitchell including Abbott House, Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, Creekside Veterinary Clinic, Graphic Packaging International, Lakeview Municipal Golf Course, Twisted Wire Photography and the Corn Palace to learn from industry experts.

“The employers talk about what they are looking for in their employees and some of the trends they’re seeing in terms of where the business is headed,” Larsen said. “It’s a chance for teachers to ask questions directly to those industries.”


The Division of Career and Technical Education continues to see the conference attendance and number of career and technical education programs in schools grow every year.

“We hope they (conference attendees) take away new skills, ideas and relationships with their colleagues across the state and that they’re really energized to head into the new school year,” Scheibe said. “We hope they take what they learned and apply it and do what they do best -- supporting the students in South Dakota.”

Scotland agriculture teacher Lindsey Kaufmann, browse the silent auction items on Monday morning at the South Dakota Career and Technical Education Conference at Mitchell Technical Institute. (Abbie Lambert / Republic)

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