MARLBOROUGH – Executive Director Steven C. Sharek is pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) held its spring general membership meeting this week, which featured a presentation from Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeffrey Riley.
At the meeting, held Thursday, March 3 in Marlborough, Commissioner Riley provided an update on various educational priorities and initiatives at the state level, including an overview of DESE’s approach to combating the COVID-19 pandemic. This included not only information on masking and the latest health protocols, but the approach to dealing with the mental health strain the pandemic has caused on students and staff, and financial resources available to assist school districts.
He also touched on the latest developments regarding MCAS and standardized testing in the state, and strengthening and diversifying the pipeline of qualified Career Technical Education (CTE) instructors.
In closing, he touted the value of technical education and the push needed at the state level to support vocational schools and their students.
One example he gave was the Chapter 74 Partnership Program (know as the “After Dark” program), which allows school districts to partner with other districts or schools within a single district to provide Vocational Technical Education opportunities during times outside the typical school day when vocational technical facilities are underutilized.
“At the end of the day, we want our kids to have access to vocational education. We know how important it is, and if I could double or triple the amount of vocational schools in the state, I would,” Commissioner Riley said. “I know what these schools provide for our children. Having real-world hands-on interactive learning on a daily basis is, quite frankly, what education is all about.”
Also as part of the meeting was a pre-recorded message from Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito who spoke about the state’s efforts to promote Career Technical Education.
General Membership Meeting
MAVA President, Assabet Valley Regional Vocational School District Superintendent Ernest Houle, gave a welcome address and introduced MAVA staff members and officers in attendance as well as guests from the Department of Education. He also recognized member administrators who have retired or will be retiring this year, and asked current members to stand and acknowledge any new administrators they have recently hired at their schools.
Executive Director Sharek recognized several of the new MAVA member schools, including Everett High School, Watertown High School, Salem High School and William J. Dean Technical High School of Holyoke, as well as a member that will be joining this summer, Somerville High School.
Presidential Scholar Nominees
To conclude the meeting, Commissioner Riley presented awards to six students to recognize them for being named U.S. Presidential Scholar nominees. Representatives from each of the students’ schools read off several accolades and accomplishments of each student achieved in the classroom, after school and in their communities.
“This is a tremendous day, because what we do on a daily basis and what drives us and what we’re passionate about, is our students,” President Houle said. “So we’re lucky any time we get to celebrate our students like this.”
The six students honored as U.S. Presidential Scholar nominees were:
- Lourdes Luna Ceballos, Greater Lawrence Regional Technical High School
- Piper Culp, Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School
- Beck Hermann, Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School
- Shanay Patel, Worcester Technical High School
- Chloe Simard, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School
- Sophia Zoghbi, Worcester Technical High School