ACTE Announces Waco ISD Director of Career and Technical Education as National Award Finalist

ACTE Announces Waco ISD Director of Career and Technical Education as National Award Finalist
Posted on 09/28/2017

Photo: Donna McKethanMonday, September 25, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) announced Donna McKethan, Director of Career and Technical Education of Waco Independent School District in Waco, Texas, as the 2017 ACTE Region IV Administrator of the Year. This award recognizes administrative CTE professionals at the school, district, county, state, or federal level who have demonstrated leadership in ensuring teacher and student success and have made significant contributions toward innovative, unique and effective career and technical education programs.

Over a career in CTE that spans three decades, Donna McKethan has launched innovations in every role she has assumed. As a Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) teacher in Bosqueville Independent School District (ISD), McKethan developed a working childcare center and early childhood development lab for students that continues to serve the community more than 20 years later. As the Career Placement Facilitator for Waco ISD, McKethan worked with the Waco ISD news department to create a CTE program called “Targeting Tomorrow” which promoted careers in the local area and featured CTE students, business community leaders, and college and CTE instructors. Following the success of this initiative, McKethan was quickly promoted to her current position as the CTE Director for Waco ISD. With careful guidance, teamwork, realignment of programs, and community awareness, student participation in CTE courses has soared to 90.9% district wide. 

With the belief that a CTE program should support local businesses, the economy, and students, McKethan developed and established two multi-district academies: the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy and the Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy, which currently serve 13 area school districts. McKethan and her staff wrote and were awarded a $6.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to provide state-of-the-art equipment and training at the advanced academies; through her strong relationships with the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and the Waco Business League, McKethan was able to secure an additional $2 million in industry donations. Under McKethan’s leadership, the number of Waco students earning industry certifications has increased by 120% over the last six years. In addition, McKethan has become more active in the political process, and recently worked with State Representative Charles  Anderson to craft bill HB639, which allows students under 18 greater flexibility to work on heavy machinery and equipment as part of their CTE programs. “Donna McKethan inspires Waco ISD’s CTE educators to recognize their potential as change agents, and they strive to meet the high expectations that she models in word and action,” says Robin McDurham, Assistant Superintendent for Student Service and Family Engagement.

McKethan is one of five finalists for the 2018 national title. The national winner will be announced at the ACTE Awards Banquet, a dinner and award presentation recognizing the best CTE educators in the country. The event will take place on Wednesday evening, December 6, during ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Awards Banquet is sponsored by Express Employment Professionals, the US Army, CareerSafe, Stratasys, and International Baccalaureate. For more information about the ACTE Excellence Awards, visit our webpage.

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About ACTE
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit association committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. ACTE represents the community of CTE professionals, including educators, administrators, researchers, school counselors, guidance and career development professionals and others at all levels of education. ACTE is committed to excellence in providing advocacy, public awareness and access to resources, professional development and leadership opportunities.