Smart List: 25 CTE Innovations and Innovators

Career and Technical Education will become an even more important aspect of lifelong and post-secondary learning as the world shifts toward the gig and project-based economy. Today, we are recognizing 25 CTE innovations and innovators that are educating people of all ages in ways that prepare them for the changes to come.


  • Sarah Raikes, Washington County High School (Kentucky): The ACTE teacher of the year teaches 9 Family and Consumer Sciences courses and is a policy advocate.
  • Ball State University: Administrator Samuel Cotton and Teacher Edward Lazaros were both recognized by ACTE for their higher education leadership.
  • NE Metro ISD 916 (Minnesota): Known for its career guidance process, led by Shelli Sowles.
  • Jacob Ball, Nelson County High School (Kentucky): Agriculture teacher and new ACTE teacher of the year.
  • Leon Grant, Marietta City Schools (Georgia): Leads world-class pre-engineering program with a focused on community service.
  • Jerry Ellner, Universal Technical Institute (Arizona): Connects high school and postsecondary experiences, and champions connection between academics and skills.

Schools and Districts

State Networks

  • Career Tech: Great statewide system in Oklahoma.
  • P-TECH (New York, Illinois, Idaho): Computer science schools that combine high school, work experiences and an associate’s degree, with a good shot at a good job.
  • Louisiana Course Choice: Great example of a state proactively seeking expanded choices for students.
  • GPS Education Partners (Wisconsin): Network of manufacturing flex academies in Wisconsin.

National Networks

Advocacy, and Influencers

Curriculum Networks

Who did we miss? Who would you add? Share in the comments section below, and don’t forget to check out our other recent Smart Lists at our Smart List Series Page.

Our Smart Lists are some of our most popular posts, and upcoming sponsorship opportunities are still available. Interested in learning more? Contact Megan: [email protected].

This Smart List is sponsored by Getting Smart Services, Getting Smart’s consulting division that helps schools, districts, networks and impact-oriented partners create, implement and amplify thought leadership campaigns, education initiatives, powerful learning experiences and forward-leaning strategies. Learn more about what they can do to support your education initiatives here.


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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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1 Comment

Nancy Xiong

Hi, I wanted to include Linked Learning under National Networks. The Linked Learning approach integrates rigorous academics that meet college-ready standards with sequenced, high-quality career-technical education, work-based learning, and supports to help students stay on track. Originally in California, Linked Learning has already been adopted by partners in other states including Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, Kansas, and even outside the country in Saskatchewan, Canada. Check out our infographic:

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