Making the transition from elementary school teacher to school administrator has been a challenging and rewarding experience for Lisa Vrvilo. After three years teaching third-graders, and eight years teaching middle school, Vrvilo embraced the opportunity to pursue an administrative opportunity in career and technical education (CTE), even though she had little knowledge about the field.
Since 2002, she has been the school-to-work coordinator for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District in Palmer, Alaska. The district is a large one, approximately 24,000 square miles (about the size of West Virginia), with 15,000 students and several schools to accommodate them. It is the fastest growing area in the state, and there are about 500 new students entering the district's schools each year.
One of the many challenges the district faces is being able to provide enough programs to students, according to Vrvilo. An advisory board was set up to identify the fastest growing industries so that programs could be developed to meet local workforce needs. The district now offers a number of programs and certifications, including nursing, information technology, welding and automotive technology.
One of Vrvilo's primary responsibilities is to build partnerships between schools and the community, bringing to students an array of job training opportunities. She works with employers and trade unions to increase the number of …