Kayla Correll knew she was ready to venture into the next phase of her career, and she wanted a reputable online program to earn her Master of Science degree in career and technical education.
University of Wisconsin-Stout fit her needs, providing flexibility for Correll, of Franklin, to move her career forward.
“It was exciting for me to return to school,” said Correll, who earned her undergraduate degree in family, consumer and community education from UW-Madison in 2011. “I was ready to venture into the next season of my career. I was excited for the next step and ready to jump into a leadership role. A master’s in career and technical education was a clear path for me, given my background as a CTE instructor.”
Correll taught family and consumer science education at Greendale High School in Greendale for nine years. Before she finished her master’s, she was hired at the Cooperative Educational Service Agency Dist. 1 in Pewaukee as the CTE coordinator.
CESA 1 serves 45 school districts in southeastern Wisconsin. In her role, Correll writes the Perkins Grant for a consortium of 20 districts. The grant provides funding for CTE curriculum, helps with data reporting on CTE pathways to the Department of Public Instruction and facilitates professional development for CTE educators in southeastern Wisconsin.
Correll graduated on Dec. 19 from UW-Stout after starting the M.S. CTE program in the spring of 2018.
AAFCS national teacher of the year
While earning her master’s she continued working at Greendale High School, served as the adviser for the ProStart Competition team that won the statewide culinary competition in 2019 and 2020 and also had her daughter, Chloe, age 1.
In June, Correll was awarded the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences 2020 National Teacher of the Year award. The group recognized a program Correll started at Greendale that allowed students interested in the hospitality industry to take a series of pathway courses, earn two nationally recognized certifications, earn 12 credits at a local technical college, participate in youth apprenticeships and earn college scholarships through state and national culinary competitions.
UW-Stout has a School of Hospitality Leadership that offers programs in hotel, restaurant and tourism management, golf enterprise management and real estate property management.
“It was hard to leave my teaching position. I loved Greendale High School,” Correll said. “However, I wanted to continue to move forward in my education and career to be able to effect change in CTE at a regional and state level. I wanted to continue my journey in education, and the program at UW-Stout was a great fit for me.”
At UW-Stout, the professors in her program created syllabi and explained up front what the learning outcomes and projects would be. This helped Correll stay focused and organized so she could excel while also managing a full-time teaching position and motherhood.
While she was working on her online master’s degree, Correll said there were times when as a mother she felt frustrated because she was writing a paper for a class that she had to finish and didn’t have as much time to spend with her son, Charlie, age 4, as she wanted.
“In those moments I felt so guilty, but I knew earning my degree would also benefit him in the end,” she said. “I wanted to be a role model for him.”
Correll would envision herself in her cap and gown walking across the commencement stage, knowing Charlie would see her and be proud of her accomplishment.
Even though a virtual graduation was held on Dec. 19 at UW-Stout instead of an in-person one because of COVID-19 restrictions, Correll dressed in her cap and gown and took pictures with Chloe and Charlie and posted them on her social media.
“I wanted to show my kids how much we value education and how excited we are about education,” said Correll, whose husband is Zachary Correll.
Deanna Schultz, program director for the M.S. CTE program and an associate professor, was a mentor to Correll. “She made a big impact on my education,” Correll said. “She is involved in so many different areas of CTE including at the state level. Her character and leadership inspire me to do more in my field and make an impact like she has.”
Schultz said Correll was an excellent student, very responsible and eager to learn. “She demonstrated characteristics of a quality CTE leader throughout the program,” Schultz said.
The CTE coordinator concentration in the M.S. CTE program is specifically designed with courses that meet the DPI requirements to obtain the CTE coordinator license, preparing graduates to move into positions like the one Correll has at CESA 1, said Schultz, who is also the interim associate dean of the College of Education, Hospitality, Health and Human Sciences.
A large focus of education in Wisconsin is on academic and career planning for students, Correll said. CTE allows students to get experience and learn skills that help them plan their futures. “It’s essential to provide opportunities for high school students that help them prepare for their careers,” Correll said.