(CLARE) – For new Clare-Gladwin Career & Technical Education Program Director Sandra Russell, it’s all about timing.
Russell officially joined the CTE staff at the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District in early July. She comes to the organization at an exciting juncture for CTE, following voters’ approval of a dedicated CTE millage this spring. Both the short-term program improvements and the long-term potential were enticing to Russell.
“I am here because I fully believe that education is the foundation of the success of our communities and our world,” Russell said. “Training an innovative, highly skilled workforce is the key to a highly prosperous community. I am passionate about helping to build productive, skilled, well-educated employees to ensure prosperity for our families and businesses.”
Russell joined CTE after 18 years as a school administrator, particularly at the middle school level, with additional leadership responsibilities in Title I, athletics and special education. Most recently, she was the principal at Alma Middle School. CGRESD Superintendent Sheryl Presler believes Russell is the right person in the right place as the CTE program takes a profound leap forward.
“Sandy’s a proven leader whose credentials to manage CTE are hard to beat,” Presler said. “She’s hitting the ground running at a time when the program is really taking off, and she’s already done a lot of homework, getting to know the program, the instructors and the working environment.”
Russell and Presler have seized the opportunity afforded by the millage’s passage to make sure students receive maximum benefit.
“CTE is an essential component bridging local businesses and this emerging workforce of young adults,” Russell said. “We’ll continue to strengthen our relationships with those stakeholders to ensure that our students receive viable opportunities – in terms of both training and placement – to best use the skills they’ve learned in our programs. We want to build this CTE program into a world-class training ground so our students can skillfully compete in local and global job markets.”
Helping train young adults to enter the workforce has always held appeal for Russell, who was inspired as a child to become an educator in part as she watched her family struggle to find viable education options for her older sister, who is developmentally disabled.
“What gives me the most satisfaction is seeing students become hardworking, committed members of their communities,” she said. “I love walking into a business and seeing one of my former students being successful and productive in a job that they love. Knowing that you had a small part in that life-long success for a young person is such a gift.”