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Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education

2020 Educator Awards

Teacher of the Year: Derek Fitzer – South-Western City Schools Career Academy

Derek Fitzer is the Mobile Applications Instructor at South-Western Career Academy. When the district was interested in beginning a new Mobile Applications program, Derek immediately came to mind as the instructor to begin and lead this new endeavor. He immersed himself in the program, making connections with the local College Credit Plus affiliation, and built one of the strongest programs in the district. He enthusiastically took on the challenge of learning the Swift Program Language and all the intricacies of App development.   In its first year, 8 students were involved in the program, and it grew to 28 students in the second year. People who work with Derek describe him as kind, genuine, passionate, and warm. It is this warm demeanor, coupled with his passion for innovative teaching practices, that make Derek a critical component of his school and community.

Derek and his students created this video:  If you can't go through it...go around it!

Administrator of the Year: Dennis Franks – Pickaway Ross CTC

Dennis Franks is the Superintendent of Pickaway Ross Career and Technology Center. He has been a leader in the world of career-tech for more than three decades.  From the classroom, to adult education, to secondary and even district leadership, Dennis has spent his career working in career-tech and making sure that students in Pickaway and Ross counties have the opportunities and advantages that come with career-technical education. From leadership in the district to leadership of OACTE, OACTS and the Governor's Board for Workforce Development, Dennis stands tall among the leaders in career-tech. 

Advice from Dennis:

“Listen to ideas … from your superintendent, fellow teachers, support staff, custodial staff, substitutes and your local community. Everybody sees things from their own frame of reference and someone else’s ideas can inspire you.


 Try something new … whether it’s creating a new committee or program, or getting involved locally, statewide or even nationally, don’t let the unknown scare you. CTE has always been involved with our local business and industry so continue developing those relationships and make your community even stronger.


 Be an ambassador… not just for your school but for career-tech education. We work in a collaborative field and by supporting career-tech education overall, we all benefit."

Career Guidance: Corinne Magensky – Four Cities Compact

Corinne Magensky is the Pathway Compact Counselor at Four Cities Compact. She has revolutionized the outreach to future CTE students in Barberton, Wadsworth, Copley and Norton schools.  Over the four years that she has been in her position, she has helped increase the number of students participating to over 2,000 this year, helped bring new programs to Four Cities Compact, and counseled students to help them achieve excellent placement post-graduation (95.9%).  Corrine's creativity, counseling skills, and dedication to CTE and furthering students’ ability to graduate and have a meaningful and self-sufficient life are all part of why she is deserving of the Career Guidance Award.

Outstanding New CTE Teacher: Rebecca McCowan – Great Oaks Career Campuses 

Rebecca McCowan is the Great Oaks Satellite High School of Business Teacher at Princeton High School. She has been instrumental in helping to develop an exemplary business partnership for Princeton High School and its community. She and her students assist the superintendent in hosting four regular breakfast meetings throughout the school year. In just three years at Princeton, she has developed one of the largest DECA chapters in Ohio. She has also developed a closet of dress clothes for her students who are unable to purchase their own so they can wear professional apparel at competitions.  Last summer, Rebecca held a summer leadership program for 12 Princeton students. The students worked to establish goals for the DECA chapter, many of which have been achieved this year. She has established her CTE program as a valued part of the Princeton High School community through the program's work in managing the school's spirit shop and numerous other areas of service to the community. Rebecca has made a meaningful impact in the lives of her students through patient and nurturing love, instruction, and care for them.

Advice from Rebecca:

Outstanding Teacher in Community Service: Sara Plozay – Upper Valley CC

Sara Plozay is a Cosmetology Instructor and the SkillsUSA Advisor at Upper Valley Career Center. She is dedicated to both her students and her community, hosting several community service projects throughout the year. Those events include free haircuts at the Salvation Army as part of a Back to School Bash in Sidney, hosting a Princess Spa Day with her cosmetology students for children in the community, providing a Relaxation Day for teachers to de-stress before the holidays at Troy Elementary, haircuts for over 70 students at one of the Piqua elementary schools, Pedicures for Veterans - which has become an annual event, and so many more.  Sara is dedicated to community service but more importantly, her passion teaches students its value and the mechanism for implementing a truly meaningful and beneficial project.

Advice from Sara:

 “Providing students the opportunity to utilize the skills they are learning in their CTE programs in a way that can benefit the community elevates their performance level and enriches the classroom environment. These practical, real-life experiences allow students to develop a deeper sense of empathy toward others. They build self-confidence as they become more aware of the needs in the communities they serve. Most importantly, it gives them a stronger sense of purpose and meaning to their lives as they make a difference in the lives of others.”

Post-Secondary Teacher of the Year: Joy Shepherd – Apollo CC

Joy Shepherd is the Allied Health Instructor and Practicum Coordinator at the Apollo Career Center. She has been a post-secondary teacher at Apollo Career Center full-time since 2007. She is the Lead Faculty for Apollo’s CAAHEP-accredited medical assisting program and Practicum Coordinator for all of the Allied Health Programs in adult education. Having a passion for adult education, she left the private sector in healthcare managing a multi-physician pediatric practice to enter the classroom as a full-time teacher. Since coming to Apollo, she has been instrumental in achieving and maintaining programmatic accreditation, meeting program outcomes and benchmarks, and strengthening Apollo’s ties to the community. Joy is the “go-to” person for local area doctor’s offices and laboratories for helping them secure competent allied health professionals throughout nine counties in Northwest Ohio, in addition to securing the clinical placement of students. Additionally, Apollo has been able to secure over $10,000 worth of donations of equipment and supplies for our allied health programs this year alone because of her consistency and level of professionalism.

Advice from Joy:

 “Show compassion to your students.

Reassure them and encourage them! You are your students’ launching point, bridge, or last resort."

Ambassador Award: Susan Schwalbauch – Pickaway ESC

Susan Schwalbauch is an Academic Specialist at Pickaway County ESC. She is an excellent example of how collaboration can benefit the world of career-tech.  Susan was hired in 2012 through a partnership with the Pickaway County ESC to be an academic specialist for Pickaway-Ross CTC. Since that time, her role has grown and expanded to meet the demands of career-tech and she has become a critically important member of the PRCTC team.  Recently, she has worked with the Ohio Apprenticeship Council to secure a process to develop pre-apprenticeships within PRCTC programming to create pathways to graduation for work-based learning students. She is a true ambassador for career-tech, wearing the hat of an ESC employee, who reaches out to community members and organizations to enable the district to achieve success in many areas.

Advice from Susan:

 “The best piece of advice I can give you would be to use your resources! In career-tech education, there is such a diverse background of individuals and can make for the perfect environment for collaboration. Whether it be colleagues, administration, or other career-tech professionals, reach out! Amazing ideas and support can come from so many places. The same can be said for reaching out to those outside of the education business.

Sometimes, we may underutilize partnering with those who aren’t directly involved with education. Local business owners, folks who work in business and industry, organizations and individuals have experiences that are rich with ideas and new perspectives and are often more than willing to work with career-tech education. So I say, reach out and cultivate relationships, utilize resources and expect big results!”

Business Image Award: Bill Swan—Business Partner with Auburn CC

Bill Swan is the Training and Development Specialist with Swagelok, a company which provides fluid system products. Bill has been a champion of Career and Technical Education, manufacturing, and for Auburn Career Center for the past nine years. He has helped provide high school and adult students with over 45 internships and jobs, he has been an advisory member for both the high school and adult machining program for nine years, he has attended every adult manufacturing graduation, every high school mock interview day, and countless other events, and has been instrumental in helping the manufacturing program grow into the best in the Lake and Geauga County area.  Swagelok’s core values are customer focus, quality, integrity, respect for the individual and continuous improvement. Bill is the epitome of integrity and respect for the individual and he has genuine concern for student success. He brings compassion and a desire to really listen to what students want to do and helps them find personal success and enjoyment.

Advice from Bill:

 “I was truly surprised and humbled by the “Excellence in Business Image” award. I genuinely enjoy representing the company where I have been employed for nearly thirty years. As I reflect on why it has been so rewarding, I keep coming back to the idea of- live your values.

 Swagelok was founded on the core values of Respect, Innovation, Integrity, Customer Focus, Quality, and Continuous Improvement. I cannot think of a single time in my career when I was asked to disregard one of our values to focus on another. Having strong principals that guide your decisions and interactions, I feel contributes to the success of all. I am honored to work for Swagelok Company, I appreciate the support of my colleagues, the trust placed in me by our leadership, and now to have been recognized by Ohio ACTE as someone who faithfully demonstrates our values in the community is a distinct honor.”

Outstanding School Board Members: Julie Wagner-Feasel—Delaware Area CC & Paul Stefanko—Auburn CC

Julie Wagner-Feasel serves as the Board of Education President for Delaware Area Career Center. She is entering her tenth year as a board member of the DACC and just completed her fifth consecutive year as President of the Board. During her tenure on the Board of Education, Julie has led the district through the implementation of new, cutting-edge programs such as Application Development, Engineering, and Bioscience. Her leadership and efforts have led to continuous growth in enrollment year over year. Her passion for CTE is evident in her daily interactions, her social media posts, and her lobbying efforts on behalf of DACC and CTE as a whole.  Julie's service to DACC has played a large role in elevating the status of CTE within the community, among partner industries, and among associate districts.

Advice from Julie:

"I want career tech educators and students to know they are part of this hidden gem in the education community. While traditional public schools seem to always grab the spotlight, it's the career tech centers that are truly the shining stars."

Paul Stefanko has served as a Board Member for both the Chardon Local Schools and Auburn Career Center (ACC) for over 10 years.  During that time, he has been a tremendous advocate for CTE programs and services and developing a strong program at ACC. Paul recognizes the value of developing a rigorous CTE program in promoting the economic development of the region, as well as providing additional opportunities for career readiness for students.  This year, ACC achieved a historic high level of student enrollment in CTE programs.  This is due, in part, to Paul's leadership on the ACC Board of Education and commitment to improving processes in the organization. Paul's work on two boards of education requires a tremendous commitment of personal time and energy, which he has shown over a number of years.  He is clearly passionate about the role that CTE programming plays in helping students achieve at high levels.

Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education

38 Commerce Park Dr. Suite D, Westerville, Ohio
(614) 890-ACTE (2283)
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