The Colorado Association for Career & Technical Administrators
The Colorado Association for Career & Technical Administrators (CACTA) is the Administration Division within CACTE. Our vision is to energize and communicate the passion and value of Career and Technical Education (CTE) throughout our communities.
The vision of CACTA is to energize and communicate the passion and values of Career and Technical Education throughout our community.
The mission of CACTA is to promote professional leadership and development of members to ensure Career and Technical Education within the education systems of Colorado will meet the continually changing education and training needs of students and business/industry
1. How did you get involved with career and technical education? I discovered CTE when I started working at Middle Park High School in Granby, CO. I was hired as a Culinary Arts teacher and was immediately asked to develop a CTE program, along with other successful programs like Automotive and Multimedia Arts. What I love about CTE is how it takes the academic and technical skills and combines them into real-world application for our students, opening their eyes to possibilities they didn’t know existed. During my first year, I learned all about CTE and loved watching my students develop in my CTSO and other opportunities in the community. In my second year, I developed a Business and Hospitality program that increased industry partnership involvement with the school and connected students with the hospitality industry in my back door. I continued to learn more about CTE within the FACS and Business clusters throughout my career.
2. Where do you see Colorado growing in areas of CTE? While there is obviously growth in the STEAM and Technology fields, I have personally experienced increased interest in Multimedia Arts. Students who are learning graphic design, website and app development, and taking the traditional art methods and translating those into 21st century skills. Business partners are always looking for people to help support their marketing efforts, and by offering CTE Multimedia programs, students are working as interns or full time employees using their skills from the classroom and bringing it to the community.
3. What is something you have accomplished in CTE that you are proud of? In my CTE teaching experience, I have two major events that really made me proud to be a teacher. During my second year teaching at Middle Park, I developed the Business program and a FBLA chapter. In our first year, all 22 of my students qualified for the state competition, with 3 qualifying for nationals. This was a huge boost in my program enrollment and other students saw the amazing opportunities this provided. When I moved to Durango, I started FCCLA and during my second year, one of my shy students applied to be an FCCLA State Officer – and she was accepted! This student is one I worked with and helped build her confidence and it was amazing to see her grow and become a young woman in the 4 years that I worked with her
4. What advice would you give a new administrator in CTE? Stay focused on what is best for students. The world of CTE can be extremely demanding and overwhelming, with new processes being introduced regularly. By staying focused on the students, we ensure that even as administrators, we are always looking out for what works for them, what opportunities we can create, and how we can help them achieve their goals.
5. What are some things you would like people to know about you? I absolutely love learning new things and learning a new skill, both professionally and personally. I’m the first one to jump into a construction class and learn how to use all the tools; I love watching my students completely ruin a cake in culinary arts, but learning from it and trying again; I love learning new outdoor activities like cross country skiing or pickle ball. Now that I live in Buena Vista, exploring on the weekends with my family is absolutely my favorite activity!
Jessica Bright is currently an Assistant Principal and Work-based Learning Director with Buena Vista Schools. Jessica has 10 years of CTE experience, both in the classroom and as an administrator. Her teaching experiences spans from elementary to post-secondary, in Business and Hospitality pathways. Prior to joining education, her background includes almost ten years working as a member of the brand team at Dr Pepper, working on programs like college football and basketball conference championships and Academy of Country Music Awards. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys all the things mountain living allows, exploring new restaurants (send some recommendations!) and traveling with her husband and 6-year old son.
Buena Vista School District
Kolleen grew up outside of Chicago and attended Ripon College for undergraduate and CU for both of her Master's degrees. She began her teaching career during the 1997-1998 school year. She has taught students ranging from 3 to 21 years old in special education with an emphasis on students with emotional and behavioral needs. She left the classroom to become the Assistant Principal of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment where she first became involved in CTE. She is passionate about opening doors for all students, especially those at the margins.
Kolleen now works as the Director of Student Success for Manitou Springs School District where some of her many hats are CTE, Perkins, and WBL.
Kolleen is a first generation college graduate and is grateful for the many sacrifices her parents made for her to attend college and reach her goals.
She is married to Rick, a Biochemist, and is the proud mother of twin 16-year-old girls Kate and Liz.
When not cheering on her beloved Mustangs, she can be found reading, following politics, and enjoying Colorado's mountains
Manitou School District 14.
How did you get involved with career and technical education? As the Asst. Principal at Manitou Springs High School, I began to work with Duane Roberson before he moved to School District 11. Since I took over CTE at Manitou Springs we have been able to grow our opportunities for students.
Where do you see Colorado growing in areas of CTE? I think it will continue to grow overall, but I see Green Energy and Construction in particular as areas of growth with Healthcare and Computer Science as steady industries.
What is something you have accomplished in CTE that you are proud of? I am most proud of our middle school programs and our growing internships for the seniors at MSHS.
What advice would you give a new administrator in CTE? I am continually grateful for my CTE Director friends in the Pikes Peak Region. I could NEVER survive without them. So I would say reach out and find area district folks that can help you.
What are some things you would like people to know about you? I believe that CU Boulder isn't for every kid but post-secondary education is. Skilled labor is the key to the middle class and a livable wage whether that skill comes from Mines or an apprenticeship doesn't matter but the skills do.