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ASD Career and Technical Education Director Receives National Award

CTE students
ASD students in a cosmotology class practice using an at-home kit. The Career and Technical Education #HandsOnAtHome initative expanded at-home learning to engage students beyond virtual applications. (Credit: Missy Fraze, ASD CTE director)

ASD Career and Technical Education (CTE) Director Missy Fraze earned the 2021-22 Project Lead the Way (PLTW) National Administrator of the Year Award, which recognizes outstanding education leaders that come up with innovative ways to engage students and families. Fraze was chosen from nominations received across the U.S.

Fraze has attended PLTW annual summits in the past and cheered on her CTE peers who received the national administer award. “I was totally surprised when I found out. It’s an honor to be recognized,” said Fraze.

Kat Walker, Dimond High School CTE teacher, Jeanette Renaudineau, CTE coordinator, and Dr. Kendrick Mock, dean of UAA College of Engineering wrote letters of support for Fraze’s nomination.

Fraze was commended for her focus on “life readiness” skills, such as social emotional competence and its importance to personal satisfaction.

“Missy has consistently voiced that our first priority is to ensure that students have the foundational skills necessary to be successful in life, and that the only person to decide if a student is successful is them. Since becoming the CTE director, every new program and every curriculum revision has included a balance of technical, professionalism and life skills,” said Renaudineau.

“That’s one of the reasons why I’ve invested in PLTW in our District across secondary schools. Students take the problem solving and communication skills they’ve learned onto their next career path. It’s critical for all our kids,” said Fraze.

CTE Adopts to Virtual Learning During 2020-21 School Year

Fraze’s biggest challenge during virtual-learning was finding creative ways to keep students engaged with hands-on CTE learning and growing team-skills. The CTE team set themselves apart investing in communication, team, and accountability skills.

“It was difficult to manage these skills during a pandemic. You had kids isolated and learning at home. At first, it was about doing what we could to get through the fourth quarter in 2020, but we game-planned in case schools didn’t open in the fall, because we knew we needed hands-on and applied learning – which kids really thrive with,” said Fraze.

Fraze formed a team of 70 educators last summer to find a way to include contextualization and hands-on learning in an online environment – challenging them to scale CTE classrooms via an at-home kit students could use. Once culinary, construction, engineering, and bio-medical teachers finished brainstorming, #HandsOnAtHome became the CTE mantra.

teachers and cte kits CTE kit  cte kit
CTE students recieved at-home kits during CTE's #HandsOnAtHome when in-person switched to virtual-learning that impacted the 2020-21 school year. (Credit: Missy Fraze, ASD CTE director)

“The goal was to keep students engaged and learning, despite being stuck in front of a computer,” said Fraze. Students and families received home kits, such as a mock-wall of a home that featured framing studs, headers, and wiring. The successful collaboration between carpentry and electrical teachers garnered positive feedback from families who looked forward to the next kit.

Being College Ready, Career Ready, and Life Ready

The ASD School Board’s adoption of College, Career, and Life Ready goals is a step forward for student engagement and getting students to think about their future. Through Fraze’s leadership, these pathways are being created.

The transition for students from middle to high school is an emphasis going forward for Fraze, where CTE students are already graduating at a 97% rate.

There will be a renewed focus on helping students understand their likes and dislikes as they transition into high school and choose class credits. “We can all have 22.5 credits as a goal, but that doesn’t necessarily align to student’s future and having them think about which courses to take. It’s all about engaging with them so they think about how their education ties into their future,” said Fraze.