Bibb County School District's New Director Passionate About CTAE | Business
When she was young, Dr. Cassandra Miller-Washington dreamed of becoming a chef. The District's new Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) Director, who said she has always loved serving others, may have strayed from a career path in culinary arts, but working as an educator has allowed her to continue serving others on a deeper level.
Dr. Miller-Washington first began her journey in education by way of a career in hospitality management. She moved to Macon after graduating from Tuskegee University in 1994 to work as the Manager of Campus Dining for Aramark at Mercer University. While working at Mercer, she joined the university's first cohort of the Executive Master of Business Administration program and received her MBA in 1998.
Afterward, she began working with two of the Edison Schools in Bibb County - King Edison and Riley Edison.
"I was the Technology Director for those two schools and that’s how I entered into Bibb County," Dr. Miller-Washington said.
Dr. Miller-Washington happened to meet her mentor, Ella Carter, about the same time the Bibb County School District and Edison Schools decided not renew their partnership in 2002. At the time, Mrs. Carter was serving as principal of Northeast High School and she encouraged Dr. Miller-Washington to become a Marketing teacher at Northeast through Georgia’s Teacher Alternative Preparation Program (TAPP).
"Coming in from the industry I almost had to start over and learn a whole new arena, which was education," Dr. Miller-Washington said."Mrs. Carter was very supportive, and once you entered into her building, she would groom you and she would find your strong suits and that’s where she would guide you to allow you to develop even more."
Dr. Miller-Washington worked at Northeast from 2002-2007, during which time she served in many capacities, including Marketing teacher, CTAE Department Chair, Instructional Lead Teacher, and Junior and Senior Class Adviser. She was also named Northeast's Teacher of the Year for the 2004-2005 school year.
"She's wonderful, she's energetic, she's a team player," Mrs. Carter said of the former teacher. "I've never seen anybody just like her."
"She's a go-getter, she's a perfectionist, and she works for the good of the organization," she said.
In 2007, Dr. Miller-Washington moved to Central High School, where she remained for two years, to revamp Central's marketing program. Later, when she became a CTAE Supervisor in 2009, she oversaw the opening of the Video Broadcasting Lab at Central as well.
"That was a learning curve, but that was great," she said.
In 2010, she received her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Capella University. She took over as Director of the CTAE Department in December 2012 when Dr. Sharon Joyner retired.
"It’s wonderful coming behind Dr. Joyner because we had a lot of the same vision," Dr. Miller-Washington said. "I have some things I want to take to another level, but a lot of things she started I will keep because it was something I was passionate about as well under her leadership. It’s just now in this position I have a chance to really get people to see how great CTAE is."
Her fellow educators are excited about moving forward with someone just as passionate about CTAE as her predecessor.
"She is the leader who will not ask you to do something that she is not willing to do," said 2013 Bibb County Teacher of the Year Katie Wall, a Marketing teacher and CTAE Department Chair at Westside High School. "She inspires teachers the way we desire to inspire students. Even in an administrative role, she makes all decisions based on what is best for the students. Dr. Miller-Washington truly leads by example and her passion for education, Bibb County, and CTAE is evident in her work."
During her tenure as Director, Dr. Miller-Washington will help transition the District's pathway courses to Career Clusters as part of the switch to Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. She also hopes to broaden the connections between pathway courses and academic courses, and wants to expand the opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience that will prepare them for their next steps, whether it is a career or post-secondary education.
"When I walked in the door as a Marketing teacher I fell in love with CTAE," said Dr. Miller-Washington. "I love CTAE and how it can impact the life of a student. When I was a supervisor I had an opportunity to incorporate my ideas at my schools and I always tried to include the District, but now I get to really make sure new initiatives are implemented from the District level, which mean that all students will be served."