The Winners' Circle: The Educators Who Received Top Honors at the ACTE Convention in Kansas City Last December Share a Dedication to Career and Technical Education and to Their Professional Organizations

By Reese, Susan | Techniques, May 2006 | Go to article overview

The Winners' Circle: The Educators Who Received Top Honors at the ACTE Convention in Kansas City Last December Share a Dedication to Career and Technical Education and to Their Professional Organizations


Reese, Susan, Techniques


2006 ACTE Teacher of the Year

Although he currently serves as the industrial education department chair at Peoria High School in Peoria, Arizona, Kevin English has taught nine different career and technical education curricula during his teaching career. As industrial department chair, he oversees programs that include automotive technology, drafting and design, building trades, welding and agricultural science. But English also is still a teacher, instructing the agricultural science and welding courses.

The sports turf management course English teaches as part of the agricultural science program is one of only a handful in the nation and the only one of its kind offered in a high school in Arizona.

During his own high school career, English received scholarship offers in both agriculture and culinary arts, but chose agriculture because it led to a bachelor's degree at a four-year university. One of the requirements, however, was that he would teach agriculture in Arizona for five years. It was a choice he clearly does not regret since he has now been teaching for 20 years.

"I found that I had an aptitude and a love for it, and that has just grown," English says.

In 1993, he took his school's traditional woodshop class and changed it into a building trades program. He also started the building trades' chapter of SkillsUSA at the school. He strongly supports career and technical student organizations and serves as an FFA adviser.

An administrator who works with him says of English's teaching and his work with the student organizations, "Under the tutelage of Kevin English, ordinary children become outstanding leaders every single day."

English has written and received grants that have benefited his school, including one for $100,000 that was used to expand the building trades program. He is also an active member of his professional associations, including ACTE, Arizona ACTE and the Arizona Association of Agricultural Teachers. He has served on two of ACTE's national committees, is a past president of Arizona ACTE and the current vice president elect for Region V.

"I have a firm belief that professional associations make a difference for teachers," says English. "The professional development we provide makes a difference in the classroom. I'm a much better teacher because I'm involved in my professional associations."

As for the profession itself, English says, "I love teaching. I love that in teaching every day is a different day, so I'm never bored"

While he recognizes that there are a lot of challenges facing teachers now--from financial struggles to high-stakes testing--English still wants to teach. As a career and technical educator, he feels that he is able to really get to know his students. He also is able to make a difference in his students' lives and gets to see that difference.

"It's fun at this point in my career that I have students who come back and say thanks for what I taught them, and that's the biggest payback of all," says English. "That's not worth trading for any amount of money."

2006 ACTE Outstanding Career and Technical Educator

Curtis "Ben" Helmandollar is the associate administrator for career and technical education for the Roanoke County School system and also served as the director of the Roanoke Area Tech Prep Consortium from 1991 until this year, when responsibility for tech prep in Virginia shifted to the state's community college system. But that doesn't mean Helmandollar only has one job now, because he is also teaching two remedial math classes at the middle school and serving as night principal for the local career and technical center, the Arnold R. Burton Technology Center.

So he is an administrator in the morning, then goes to the middle school to teach, then returns to administration, and finally serves as night principal at the career center.

Helmandollar says modestly of his multiple responsibilities, "After giving up the tech prep, there were some other little pieces that needed to be done, so I am doing those. …

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