KDE Hires First Outstanding Child Education Consultant for Vocational and Technical Education – Kentucky Teacher


Bill Bates began July 15 in the role of Outstanding Children’s Consultant for the Office of Career and Technical Education. Bates comes to KDE from Fayette County, where he taught at The Learning Center and Automation Engineering Technical Education and Career Paths. Photo courtesy of Bill Bates.

Bill Bates began the role of Outstanding Child Education Consultant for Career and Technical Education (CTE) of the Kentucky Department of Education on July 15. For Bates, a fourth-generation teacher, the job is a dream come true.

“This work excites me, motivates me and moves me every day,” he said. “We have extremely important responsibilities as educators. These roles allow us to do amazing things for students.

The position is the first of its kind for KDE and was made possible through federal COVID-19 relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. Bates will serve on the KDE American Rescue Plan team as a liaison between the department’s Office of Special Education and Early Learning and its Office of Career and Technical Education.

At the Kentucky Board of Education’s August 8 meeting, KDE Associate Commissioner Gretta Hylton told board members that Bates was a “unicorn” in the field of education and that she was thrilled to help him. see entering this role.

“He understands the special education landscape, but he also understands the vocational and technical education landscape,” she said. “The idea behind this was to not only scale up the work that we do for any of our CTE students with disabilities in the districts or in the ATCs, but also scale up what we do at the Kentucky School for the Blind and Kentucky School for the Deaf.

Bates was surprised to learn that he was the first person to hold the position and that he was unique in having certification in both special education and career and technical education.

“I didn’t realize how unique these two would be,” he said. “I think you’ll see more teachers getting both certifications.”

The vision behind the position is to enhance the experience of students with disabilities in vocational and technical education by providing targeted supplemental supports, guidance and technical assistance to administration and staff of local education agencies and other national and local agencies.

KDE Associate Commissioner Beth Hargis believes Bates will be a huge asset in ensuring the needs of students with disabilities who attend Regional Technology Centers (ATCs) are met.

“Very often these students thrive. But the one thing we were missing was that special building education professional to help us make sure we were implementing their (individual education programs) appropriately,” she said.

Following in the footsteps of his grandmother, father and late uncle, Bates started teaching because he wanted to make a difference in the lives of students. In college, he realized his passion for CTE and became certified to teach industrial education.

Although there hasn’t been an “aha moment” in his years of teaching that made him want to get his special education certificate, he said that having students with disabilities in his classes CTE, he realized that they excelled in the environment.

“Students with disabilities are often leaders in CTE pathways because they have the opportunity to do hands-on projects and project-based learning, which really suits them better,” he said.

After earning his rank 1 in learning and behavioral disabilities, Bates began looking for opportunities to merge CTE and special education. In 2017, Bates began working at The Learning Center in Fayette County. In his position, Bates helped create a CTE path in automation engineering that many students with disabilities enrolled in. Students on the course have worked on projects ranging from posters and magnets to plaques and garden beds. Within each project, they had the opportunity to choose what they wanted to do.

“Some students may want to use drawing materials and draw their project. Some may want to use the computer and design it. Some students may want to use power tools. Some students may want to use the laser engraver,” he said. “You have to have options to meet the needs of students.”

Bates said educators working in both disciplines must have the ability “to understand that an accommodation does not change the curriculum or change the core content of the lesson,” but that educators provide “an avenue for every student can succeed.

Bates’ goal in his new position is to help students with disabilities make a successful transition to post-secondary education or employment. To do this, he believes in having all parties at the table when it comes to developing individual education programs, planning student transitions, exploring career and pathway placement.

“I think if we can continue to build this community where CTE and special education are at the table with each other and then work together to provide housing and support for students and teachers, we’re going to have a great success for students with disabilities completing pathways and passing end-of-program assessments and industry certifications,” he said.


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