Undersecretary of the US Department of Education Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier visited the WSWHE BOCES Early College High School Advanced Manufacturing program on March 26, 2014.
Dr. Dann-Messier leads the USDOE’s efforts in Adult Education and Career and Technical Education, as well as initiatives that support community colleges and correctional education. She oversees the administration of 11 grant programs in these areas, totaling approximately $1.6 billion annually. She also serves as Secretary Arne Duncan’s representative for the Skills for America’s Future Task Force.
Accompanying Dr. Dann-Messier was Dr. Sharon Lee Miller, Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Division of Academic and Technical Education. Dr. Miller is responsible for administering one of the USDOE’s largest formula grant programs, which currently distributes about $1.2 billion annually to states under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV). Her division also administers discretionary grants to improve the quality of Career and Technical Education for Native Americans, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians; gathers data for national accountability and for state and local program improvement; and conducts national initiatives that improve the rigor and relevance of Career and Technical Education programs. Dr. Miller is a native of Schenectady and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Theory and Practice from the University at Albany.
Both women were in Albany for the Annual Leadership Conference for the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTEA). WSWHE BOCES Director of Career and Technical Education Doug Leavens is the president of ACTEA.
Dr. Dann-Messier saw projects the ECHS Advanced Manufacturing students have created using robotics, electronics, and 3-D printing. Afterwards, she held two round table discussions to discover what is working in the ECHS program; what challenges students, teachers and administrators face; and what support the US Department of Education can provide to help further program goals. The first round table consisted of regional employers (some of whom have children in the ECHS program); representatives from SUNY Adirondack; representatives from Hudson Falls, Queensbury, and Saratoga Springs school districts; and representatives from WSWHE BOCES. The second round table included ECHS students, parents, and teachers.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our innovative Early College High School program and demonstrate how it is positively impacting students, component school districts, and employers in the region,” said Mr. Leavens. “We were thrilled the US Department of Education was interested in our program and that Dr. Dann-Messier and Dr. Miller took the time to talk with our students, parents, and staff.”
The visit took place on the SUNY Adirondack campus in the ECHS classroom in Deerlove Hall. The round table discussions occurred in Scoffield Hall, where the ECHS students participate in college-level courses.