Maine Township High School District 207 Superintendent Dr. Ken Wallace has been announced as the 2018 ACTE Champion of the Year by the Association for Career and Technical Education and its board of directors.
The ACTE Champion of the Year award recognizes individuals and entities for their meritorious contributions to the improvement, promotion, development and progress of career and technical education (CTE).
Dr. Wallace began serving District 207 in 2005 as assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. He became the superintendent to the district and its 6,300 students in 2009. Each of the district's three high schools has been recognized by The Washington Post, US News & World Report, or Newsweek as one of the nation's top schools.
Despite growing poverty, this demographically diverse district reported the eight highest mean ACT scores the past nine years, and under Dr. Wallace's supervision was named one of the 14 most innovative school districts in America by Tech Insider.
While Dr. Wallace was assistant superintendent, which included oversight over technology, Maine 207 became the first K-12 school district in the world to partner with Google to use Gmail and Google applications for education.
Career exploration has also been a major emphasis of Wallace. He has expanded career-oriented classes, implemented a four-year plan for students to receive help exploring and planning careers, and hired a career coordinator for the district's internship program.
The internship program is another feature of the district. Each student creates a four-year plan to explore careers and postsecondary options. The internship program has grown by 126 percent over the past two years, while the number of community partners has skyrocketed by 263 percent.
By implementing Dr. Wallace's vision, schools offer students flexibility in their schedules that allows them to take advantage of shadow days, job fairs, career panels, and nontraditional internships. He has also integrated career readiness into the district's counseling programs, grading system, and curriculum development.
"We are proud that Dr. Wallace has received this well-deserved national honor for his visionary approach to career and technical education," said Carla Owen, the district's board of education president.
"Through his thoughtful leadership and focus, Dr. Wallace is ensuring that all of our students have authentic opportunities to explore career and college options, which will pay dividends for students long beyond their high school years."
Martha Eldredge Stark, executive director of NSERVE, a suburban Chicago career and technical education consortium, said, "Rather than having the normal, narrow focus on high school graduation and college acceptance rates, Ken casts a vision for ensuring better, long-range college and career outcomes for every student.
"He has taken the lead in having the district match student interests and passions with opportunities and better information about the return on investment for post high school education and training, regardless of where or why a student wants to continue their education after high school."
Dr. Wallace said, "I'm incredibly honored to receive this award, but this is a reflection of the work of many individuals in our Career and Technical Education Department, our Student Services Department, our entire district staff and district communities that have really galvanized around the idea of serving students better to improve post high school outcomes.
"Our incredible team of Becky Stewart, Kim Jablonski, Dr. Barb Dill-Varga, Dr. Laura Cook and Martha Eldredge Stark has helped us create a vision for the integral role of Career and Technical Education in helping us serve students and our business partners better in ways that are informed by data about the range of where good jobs really are and the education and training paths it takes to get there."
Dr. Wallace will be recognized alongside other national ACTE award winners Dec. 6 at the annual ACTE Awards Banquet during ACTE's CareerTech VISION 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. VISION is ACTE's signature event, with more than 4,000 CTE professionals from across the country.
For more information on the Excellence Awards and the awards banquet, visit http://www.acteonline.org/awards.