New Leadership Award Recognizes Top CTE Students

Six Northwest Arkansas high school students will be recognized at a reception Tuesday as the first recipients and honorable mention winners of a new Regional Student Career and Technical Leadership Award.

The award was established to recognize outstanding high school and first-year post-secondary students in Career and Technical Education courses. The reception will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Peterson Auditorium in the Shewmaker Center for Global Business Development on the NWACC campus in Bentonville.

Career and Technical Education programs at high schools are critical to strengthening the talent of the region’s workforce, said Kim Davis, education and workforce development director for the Northwest Arkansas Council.

“These students’ achievements underscore the importance of connecting workforce development efforts to jobs of the future through education,” Davis said. “It allows students to explore gifts and talents that are outside of what’s been traditionally celebrated in secondary education. CTE programs can provide a great start to a long, successful career.”

CTE skills can be advanced further at Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale and at NorthWest Arkansas Community College. The top three students will receive $1,000 scholarships to NWACC or NTI, and three others will receive honorable mention recognition for their success in CTE programs.

“Career and Technical Education programs are important because they allow students to develop the technical skills that are demanded by today’s employers,” said Stephanie Trolinger, Secondary Career Center Director at NTI. “In addition to learning 21st century job skills, students who complete CTE programs may further their skills by continuing their education at a post-secondary level.”

Diana Johnson, executive director of high school relations at NWACC, said CTE allows students to learn skills through project-based learning.

“Employers in Northwest Arkansas want well-trained students with strong communication skills,” she said. “The students being recognized on Tuesday have demonstrated job skills through internships, projects, and industry certifications, leadership skills through school career and technical organizations and community service, and academic success by maintaining a 3.0 high school grade point average in their career and technical classes.”

The colaboration between the Council, NWACC, NTI and the Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative in Farmington is part of a larger overall effort to improve educational attainment and increase specialized training and certifications. Many of the region's companies need workers who've completed CTE programs.

The Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative played an important role in developing the criteria for determining next Tuesday’s award winners, and for heightening awareness about the importance of CTE in the region.

The public is invited to attend Tuesday’s reception.