OVAE Connection -- December 15, 2010
Archived Information

National Perspective Presented at ACTE Convention

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier opened the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) 2010 Convention in Las Vegas on Dec. 2, welcoming over 5,000 participants by providing both a national perspective on and a new direction for CTE. Dann-Messier also delivered an imperative to the audience of educators, policy makers, and industry representatives to align education and skills to workforce needs, emphasizing that implementation of career pathways is integral to the process. During the conference Dann-Messier and Sharon Miller, director of OVAE’s Division of Academic and Technical Education, conducted three CTE Community Conversations on the current and future Perkins legislation to help all students achieve college- and career-readiness and success.

In addition, Elizabeth Livings-Eassa, on loan to OVAE from Indian River State College, led a panel on the recently awarded grant program, Promoting Rigorous Career and Technical Education Programs of Study (RPOS). Panelists shared their applications and expectations for implementing their projects. The states and clusters represented were: Arizona – education; Kansas – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); Maryland – automotive technology; Montana – construction; Utah – health science; and Wisconsin – manufacturing. The work of the grantees will be disseminated nationally.

Russella Davis-Rogers Joins OVAE

Russella L. Davis-Rogers joined OVAE in November as a confidential assistant to the assistant secretary. Davis-Rogers particularly enjoys working with youths, and has been volunteering in their behalf since the age of 15, when she first served as a Big Sister. She has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children in Detroit. Davis-Rogers was a project coordinator for the nonprofit organization buildOn, motivating students to perform community service and raising funds to build schools in underserved countries in Africa and Central America. She is a published author whose first work, And We Fell Out Laughin’, is a collection of short stories from her childhood.

In 2008, Davis-Rogers received the Barack Obama Organizing Fellowship in then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Detroit. She was then hired as a field organizer responsible for a Detroit region with over 45,000 constituents. Davis-Rogers also served on the scholarship selection committee for the Coleman A. Young Foundation, and as a lecturer on racism and sexism. She is a Spirit of Detroit recipient—the highest honor bestowed on citizens of Detroit for exceptional achievement and leadership towards improving the quality of life for the city through community service. Most recently, Davis-Rogers served as Metro-Detroit regional field director for Organizing for America, the grassroots arm of the Democratic National Committee, the liaison to state and national leadership for Michigan's 13th and 14th Congressional Districts.

Duncan, Dann-Messier Kick off GED Pilot, Meet Students in Manhattan

Secretary Arne Duncan shared a clear message with adult students from District 79’s adult education program on Dec. 9, at an alternative school in New York City: “It’s important to keep going. Don’t stop!” Secretary Duncan and Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier, along with New York’s Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein, visited Mid-Manhattan Adult Learning Center to kick off a pilot test of new types of GED test items aligned with emerging national standards. They then met with adult students for whom attaining a GED certificate was a game-changer in their lives.

Two young men told the secretary that the GED became a turning point in their lives after they immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. “Now, I can see my future—before I wasn’t serious—I didn’t care,” said one. A 49-year-old mother of three told of going on to college after passing the GED. Her sons graduated from college and she wanted them to be proud of her. She is completing her studies to become a teacher. Another student was 21-year-old man, who had spent two years in prison. After passing the GED exam, he enrolled in college to become a social worker and now aspires to start his own nonprofit group to help inmates re-enter society. He told the secretary, “People do not know how to look for help. Males are scared to look for help.”

Duncan affirmed the importance of these success stories for others who also need to return to school. “They need to find other people like themselves who have done it. They need to see that they can reach it, too,” he said.

OVAE Connection wishes everyone happy holidays for the next two weeks! We will see you on Jan. 6, 2011.

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Last Modified: 12/16/2010