Category Archives: Education

Distinguished Young Women – Generations of Opening New Opportunities

Illustration of education concept

Nichole Thiel has built up a range of project management and strategic planning skills throughout her career. One early experience that changed her life in this respect was her participation in the Distinguished Young Women (DYW) program, then called Junior Miss. Nichole Thiel benefited from this scholarship and leadership development series when she was in high school and recently gave back by serving as a judge in the mock interview portion of a local competition.

DYW hosts programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, offering more than $1 billion in scholarships annually. Entry is free for high school juniors and seniors. As part of the competition, DYW evaluates participants largely on their success in the interview portion and in their academic accomplishment, with each of these categories weighted at 25 percent of the overall evaluation. Performance in the talent portion counts for 20 percent of the total, and self-expression and physical fitness at 15 percent each. Every winner at the state level goes on to a nationwide finals event, held in Mobile, Alabama.

DYW participants also receive extensive support through a Life Skills program that consists of workshops designed to refine skills in self-confidence, presentation, and public speaking.

Since the program’s beginning in 1958, DYW national winners have gone on to study at Harvard, Columbia, and other major universities, and to pursue a wide range of careers in fields that include economics, medicine, communications, and theater.

Tips for Growing Peonies

A graduate of the Idaho Leadership Institute, former career/technical education teacher Nichole Thiel spent several years as a caregiver before she pivoted to a position as a federal employee. In her personal life, Nichole Thiel enjoys gardening and cultivating peonies.

Peonies are known for their full blooms and fragrance. Most peonies reach their peak bloom by midsummer. However, late-season varieties thrive in areas with cooler fall temperatures and continue to provide lovely blooms a few weeks after peak season.

While peony plants produce short-lived flowers, there are ways to encourage longer and faster-blooming periods. First, gardeners should plant a mix of early, midseason, and late-season peony varieties.

To encourage buds, gardeners should clip off some of the leaves and stems just before cold weather sets in. Since peonies require nutritious soil to produce blooms, gardeners should add fertilizer or compost to the plant’s base. In warmer climates, peonies should be planted in areas that offer shade from the harsh afternoon sun.

What is Career and Technical Education?

Nichole Thiel
Nichole Thiel

An active member of the National Education Association, school administrator Nichole Thiel previously served as a vice principal and dean’s assistant in elementary school and higher education. Nichole Thiel graduated with a master’s degree in career and technical education (CTE) and spent more than a decade helping students navigate their post-school career options as a CTE teacher.

CTE programs have regained popularity in secondary and post-secondary institutions as a reaction to the need for technically-skilled workers and the rising number of students who enter college but leave before obtaining a degree.

Effective CTE programs offer a rigorous curriculum aligned with up-to-date industry needs. High school programs usually combine technical training with core academic subjects, while CTE certification programs enable students to specialize in specific subjects. CTE programs may offer concentrations in engineering, business, cosmetology, or welding.

Most CTEs partner with the local private sector to arrange internships, hands-on experience, and post-program employment opportunities. According to federal data, the number of high school students enrolled in CTE courses rose by nearly one million between 2007 and 2017. Most CTE post-secondary training programs are cheaper than a traditional four-year degree. However, graduates can make equal to or greater than their college-educated peers.