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Ferris Good Fit for Michigan Center for Career & Technical Education

BIG RAPIDS – Kitty Manley, a professor in Ferris State University’s College of Education and Human Services, believes the university has made a strong name for itself in career and technical education in Michigan.

One such initiative helping strengthen Ferris’ reputation in this realm is a Michigan Department of Education Office of Career and Technical Education grant, which allows the School of Education to host and operate the Michigan Center for Career and Technical Education in Bishop Hall on the university’s Big Rapids campus.

The mission of the MCCTE is to serve educators and trainers by setting the standard for the highest quality of workforce development and establishing a foundation for lifelong learning. The center is a resource for educators to help them stay on the cutting edge with the latest curriculum, to provide them with an understanding of industry standards and to augment their professional skills to integrate traditional classroom education with more practical learning.

Manley, who has overseen the grant since 2006, assists MCCTE staff and provides consultation for helping them remain in compliance with the new Perkins IV legislation. The new legislation requires all states identify and/or develop common technical standards with valid and reliable assessments for all CTE programs.

“This is very significant because Ferris is the leader in career and technical education in the state of Michigan,” said Manley, who has traveled across the United States and abroad to share and strengthen her knowledge of the subject. “Hosting the Michigan Center for Career and Technical Education on our campus is one of the many ways Ferris State University shows people inside and out of Michigan how it is on the cutting edge of career and technical education.”

Michelle Johnston, COEHS dean, is pleased Ferris is able to host the MCCTE in Bishop Hall. Johnston believes this speaks to the hard work of many people in COEHS, particularly Manley.

“This is terrific for Ferris and a tremendous feather in our cap,” Johnston said. “It brings a lot of positive attention to Ferris and speaks to the great work of Kitty, who has helped show a lot of people that Ferris can stand up to any of the other universities in our state and in the country in career and technical education.”

The initial three-year grant, received in 2006 and extended in 2009, helped pave the way for the school to design, develop and launch a secure, state-of-the-art, Internet-based data collection system, which identifies the common standards for all Michigan CTE programs.

“This grant has helped make Ferris an electronic hub for career and technical education,” Johnston said. “Kitty has been particularly instrumental in these efforts to make the hard work of many people come to fruition.”

With the help of the grant, MCCTE staff have presented at the governor’s Career Development Conference attracting more than 1,500 teachers and employers. MCCTE also has developed and maintained a state-of-the-art Web site,, which is a one-stop resource center for career and technical education instructors and others. The Web site houses state curriculum standards and PowerPoint presentations from Manley and other state consultants for the career and technical education community in Michigan.

“Every career and technical education teacher in the state goes to our Web site for everything they do, thus they are impacted by this grant,” Manley said. “This is why it is so important and is so prestigious that we have this center right here at Ferris.”

During the third year of the grant, project staff conducted a series of workshops to make the new CTE technical standards consistent with the Michigan High School Content Expectations. Critical data will be useful as school districts begin to seek academic credit for CTE programs.

To help all CTE teachers and administrators manage curriculum, MCCTE staff developed an electronic, user-friendly database called the MI CTE NAVIGATOR.

New initiatives being developed by Ferris MCCTE staff include:

  • Disseminate the new MI CTE NAVIGATOR system;
  • Conduct a series of teacher academies to help CTE teachers around the state implement the new standards;
  • Implement a comprehensive review and revision process to maintain up-to-date standards. This review and revision process was developed by the grant and pilot tested during last year’s grant.
  • Strengthening Ferris’ already strong reputation in career and technical education makes Manley and others swell with pride.

“I kind of look at this as my legacy to Michigan and to Ferris State University,” she said.