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
Duane is a Colorado native, born and raised in Colorado Springs and a graduate of Doherty High School, class of 1990. He went to college in Durango, CO at Fort Lewis, and after touring Europe and north Africa, returned and finished teaching courses through Regis University. He majored in journalism and paid for school in part through working at private fine dining as a pantry chef and as a line cook at Chili’s for nearly 15 years.
Duane Began teaching in 1997 as a student teacher at Sierra High School in Harrison District 2. He taught there for 15 years as the newspaper, yearbook and English teacher. He coached cross-country and the step team at different times.
In 2012, Manitou Springs District 14 offered him a position as a technology instructor and asked him to build their first ever state recognized CTE programs. In 4 years at Manitou, Duane supported four CTE pathway developments and co-taught media as a CTE program. During his time at Manitou he completed his principal licensure.
In 2016, Duane had the opportunity to join District 11 as the CTE Director. He has been in D11 ever since and has had the privilege pf working with one of the state’s top ten largest CTE programs.
His wife, Jaclyn, is a veteran science teacher who teaches biology at Palmer High School in District 11. She is a CTE certified instructor who hopes to launch a health science generalist program this year.
They have two children, Aspen and Rowan, who are in 5th and 2nd grades, and attend Chipeta Elementary in District 11.
How did you get involved with career and technical education?
I had been teaching journalism at Sierra High School for many years. I had been a journalism major in college and the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper for two years. Our newspaper and yearbook were often recognized at CSMA. In about 2009, Woody Longmire was given the role of developing CTE programs in the district. He asked if I wanted more funding and to develop more career interest in journalism. The rest is history.
Where do you see Colorado growing in areas of CTE?
It is impossible not to recognize he role of space and cyber in the economic growth of Colorado. These STEM fields tend to lean heavily toward engineering and computer science, but in time I think we’ll find a balance between advanced, middle and entry level CTE programs that meet industry needs at all levels. Further, I think there is ripe opportunity to capitalize on the lack of energy programming in the state at the secondary level. Our utilities are desperate for work force and I think secondary programming will soon become critical. We’ve already seen a revolution in construction and trades with the development of the Career in Construction Colorado organization supporting nearly twenty or more programs across Colorado and revitalizing our shop spaces. Finally, we need more collaborations like the Prostart program between industry associations, university programs and secondary schools. This is a model that should be emulated across sectors.
What is something you have accomplished in CTE that you are proud of?
I have moved our district from being silo CTE programs in schools, to becoming cooperative CTE programs across the district. The urge to circle up inside our own spaces is self-defeating and the need to see each program as a part of a larger workforce development ecosystem is critical if we are going to integrate industry and work-based learning. More and more, our middle school instructors share practices and collaborate and we see vertical integration among our middle and high school programs. We’re seeing cooperative PLCs among high school CTE programs.
What advice would you give a new administrator in CTE?
We are only as good as our instructors. Every instructor needs our support and needs to know “the district” cares. Have open office hours and keep them. Make visits to CTSO events and fund raisers. Just like teaching, your instructors don’t care what you know until they know that you care. At the same time, attend everything, even when no one sees you. The more you know, the more you can influence and direct. Meet with your special education director monthly and bring data to the conversation. Help your industries get access to your teachers and support work-based learning. Finally, be innovative. Challenge group think and attend conferences and meetings that seem off-mission; the most radical ideas seem that way because they just aren’t the norm yet.
What are some things you would like people to know about you?
I believe that 178 districts are both our strength in Colorado and our weakness. I serve District 11, of course, and I want our programs to be the best. I’m super competitive and love to be the underdog and the winner. But at the end of the day, I am a Colorado Springs native and the success of the city and the state and beyond depends on all of us working together. I have found the same among every CTE Director and Coordinator in the state and I think it is what makes Colorado CTE the best in the nation. I’ll always pick up the phone for a fellow CTE teacher. I love the catch phrase “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Finally, I love rafting, mountain biking and brewing and drinking beer. Happy to join any of you anytime for anyone of these.
Colorado Springs, District 11