DEVENS — The Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators is pleased to announce that it presented the Baker-Polito Administration with its highest honor this week during an event attended by more than 100 vocational technical superintendents and administrators. 

On Thursday, Aug. 4, during the final day of MAVA’s 2022 annual retreat, MAVA presented the Dr. David F. Cronin Award to Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. The award was presented by MAVA Executive Director Steven Sharek and MAVA President/Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School Superintendent Dr. Andrew Linkenhoker.

The Dr. David F. Cronin Award, named after a longtime Massachusetts educator who advanced the quality and professional standards for vocational technical education in Massachusetts for many years, is the highest honor MAVA bestows. It was established to recognize an individual who works tirelessly to improve vocational technical education opportunities for students and who represents the highest standards of integrity as exemplified by Dr. Cronin. 

This year MAVA unanimously opted to present the award to both Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito for their steadfast support of high-quality vocational technical education, specifically their creation of the Workforce Skills Cabinet, the awarding of hundreds of millions of dollars in critically needed Skills Capital grants, and funding the Career Technical Initiative. 

Upon receiving the award, Gov. Baker spoke of his early conversations with vocational technical students, and how he witnessed firsthand the positive impact the experiential learning model can have on young learners. He also spoke of the work his administration has done securing funding for vocational technical schools and ensuring they have modern gear and equipment to prepare students to become highly skilled and qualified members of the workforce. 

“There is a ton of momentum here, and it’s a momentum born from an enormous amount of really hard work that you all have done over a very long period of time,” Gov. Baker said. “I do believe there are a lot of people in the legislature who are sold on this and will continue to support it going forward.” 

Gov. Baker added that the work vocational technical schools do will be critical to both education and the economy going forward.

“The work you are doing has allowed you to position yourselves to grab the attention of and engage the students of the 21st century in an extraordinary way,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been thrilled to support, because you are all doing stuff that I believe will be fundamental to the way we think about educating kids and young adults going forward deep into the future. You really are one of the crown jewels of the Commonwealth’s education community.”

Lt. Gov. Polito added that the administration is proud to have been an early adopter of the type of education vocational technical schools offer.

“Even before coming to office we knew there was something very special going on in our vocational and technical schools. Working with you has allowed us to really understand what you all have understood for many, many years, which is what experiential and hands-on learning is all about,” she said. “You are far more than vocational and trade schools. You are an integral piece of workforce development, of helping both young people and adults learn how to problem solve and work on a team, and of providing access to skills that are highly relevant to the traditional economy and the future economy that is continuing to emerge.”

“It is our sincere honor to present this year’s David F. Cronin Award to Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito,” Executive Director Sharek said. “Both have worked with the Legislature in a truly bipartisan and nonpartisan manner on behalf of vocational technical education, and have served with passion, clarity, common sense, openness and integrity. MAVA is proud to publicly acknowledge and celebrate all the work they’ve done to support our schools, our students, and our economy.”

The three-day event took place from Aug. 2-4 at the Devens Common Center and featured seminars, business meetings, breakout sessions and special presentations. 

The event concluded with a presentation and question-and-answer session by Commissioner of Education Jeffrey Riley and members of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Leadership Team.

For more information on the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, visit


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