My DRIVE for CTE by Eric Mathews

from Educators in Action blog, published February 6, 2017

As I reflect on my teaching career as a Marketing Education and DECA Advisor for the past six years at North High School in Akron, Ohio, I consider my DRIVE for Career Technical Education (CTE) and how it got me where I am today.   As a former human resources executive in the automotive industry, I often tend to have an automotive pathway mindset.

D = Decision

R = Routine

I = Information

V = Vision

E = Everything

So let's begin the journey.  Seven years ago, I made a DECISION to become a substitute teacher with Akron Public Schools (APS).  This was not the most glamorous position, but I had a passion for helping young people become career-ready.  This one decision led to a full-time employment opportunity as a replacement for a retiring Marketing Education and DECA Advisor at North High School. 

As I developed a ROUTINE for teaching my subject matter on a daily basis along with taking CTE courses at Kent State University, I gained the necessary competencies to be successful in the classroom. Students learn best in CTE through a hands-on approach that gives them opportunities to implement what they learn; the same was true for me in perfecting my new teaching career. I had to routinely implement the instructional strategies I learned from my professors in the classroom, which are critical for a new teacher to adapt early on.

The INFORMATION gained from my teacher-mentor and State/National ACTE conferences would propel my teaching competencies to another level.  The information I learned from attending various workshops at state and national ACTE conferences was vital in my development as a new CTE teacher.  At these conferences, you learn best practices from some of the best CTE instructors in the world.  Without these opportunities to develop, I would not be the teacher that I am today.

When I began working at APS as a substitute teacher, I had a VISION of being a successful teacher and a strong desire to make our leadership team proud of my work.  We call it being ‘APS Proud’! I gave my new career EVERYTHING I had.  As a result of my passion to prepare students to be career- and postsecondary-ready, I have been rewarded in so many ways. The ultimate achievement for me thus far was being invited to the White House by President Obama on May 3, 2016 to be recognized as the National 2015 ACTE New Teacher of the Year. 

As I further reflect on the 100 year anniversary of the Smith-Hughes Act, adopted in 1917 for vocational education in agricultural, industrial trades and home economics, I am thankful for the pioneers who have gone before us and the DRIVE that they had to pave the way.