St. Louis American: Tell us about your current position in education, its responsibilities and challenges and how you are able to make a difference.
Duane McGowan: Currently, I serve as the Construction Trades Teacher and Department chairman for the Career Technical Education Academy. I also serve as one of the Regional Innovative CTE teachers and teacher leader/mentor for Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education New Teacher Institute.
My duties in these positions vary, but primarily the maintenance, development and strategic enhancement of curriculum, and not just any curricula but industry-approved, highly ranked national curriculum with national and international certification standards.
The focus here is to provide students with the top industry credentials available at the secondary level and to do so across all disciplines. My goals and challenges professionally and personally are to move this process along realistically and proactively among groups of teachers, administrators, counselors, students, parents and community members. Career Technical Education requires new directions and strategic collaborations.
St. Louis American: Although educators often work alone, education is a team sport. Tell us about your current team, how you fit into it, and who helps to support your work.
Duane McGowan: We have 11 members at the CTE Academy. I was surprised and very proud to learn that all members of my team are highly educated academically, influential, respected and active in the industries taught – but, most importantly, truly care for and provide solid guidance to the students they teach.
The CTE team provides training in Audio Video Production, Auto Mechanics, Business, Construction Trades, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Electrical Trades, Health Care and Welding. I am truly supported professionally and cared for personally and we support one another by being great teachers, keeping up to date with industry developments and opportunities for our students.
I believe that my team is there for me every step of the way and vice versa. That is very instrumental in navigating the ocean of challenges we face every day. Our goal is to thrive, not only survive, in what is well known as a most challenging environment.
St. Louis American: Tell us about any previous positions you have held, in education or any other field, that contributed to your development as an educator and helped prepare you for your current role.
Duane McGowan: Interestingly, I never sought after being a teacher or a teacher leader. I got here by helping good people, those less fortunate who were struggling at the time for one reason are another. When I began seeking ways to improve myself and training in various programs, schools, training centers, etc., I found myself getting trained, mentored and taught by some incredibly smart and enthusiastic teachers/leaders. I took up their mantle and continued helping others – including administrators, students, teachers, parents and industry members – reach their goals for education and training initiatives. Then I discovered that I really enjoyed and was really good at working as an Educational Project manager.
St. Louis American: Tell us about any mentors crucial to your development as an educator.
Duane McGowan: Notable mentions amongst my colleagues and mentors include (but in no way are limited to) Dr. Hattie Jackson, Dr. Myles Munroe, Dr. Donald Reese, Lynette Meyer, Janice Rehak, Alverta Smith, Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Grant Wiggins and my current CTE team. Their influence and encouragement is invaluable even for a life-long learner and explorer.
St. Louis American: Tell us about your own educational journey as a student.
Duane McGowan: Earning industry credentials in a three-year Department of Labor-registered Apprenticeship program. Associates Degree St. Louis Community College, Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Education Southern Illinois University, Computer Technology Certifications, National Consortium for Education and Research (NCCER) Certified Master Trainer Certification, 4 State Teaching Certifications, and presently I’m pursuing my Master’s in Education at Central Missouri State University.
St. Louis American: Tell us about your future goals in education.
Duane McGowan: My goal is to serve the students, CTE team and district in the best way possible. Furthering education is vital, but experience has shown me it’s equally as important to be a team player. The field of education has and continues to help me grow personally as well as professionally. I’ve allowed it to touch every part of my life and am thankful to God for granting me the opportunity.