Paul Galbenski

Teacher of the Year 2012 - Michigan


Career and Technical Education (CTE) 2.0 Education is a critical component of preparing students to be career and college ready.

Knowledge is Power. Information is Powerful. When people are informed, students benefit!! We have a history in education of creating an either/or situation, for example, “Either you are going to college or not.” By doing so, we miss the opportunity to focus on the power of "and." When we marry academics with technical skills we can fully realize the power of "and."  CTE 2.0 is doing just that. Students are earning academic credit while acquiring the technical skills to be successful in the career of their choice. The focus of all education is based on preparing students to have a successful career after high school.  Students are immersed in problem-based, project-based assignments through CTE. They have the major components required for student success: Relevance, Relationships and Rigor. Every academic course comes together when students are learning within the CTE environment. They are able to apply their knowledge and demonstrate their mastery of skills through the achievement of global business and industry certifications. Our goal collectively, as educators, is to prepare our students to be college and career ready. In doing so, we need a north star. My north star is a quote from the legendary teacher and basketball coach John Wooden, "You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you." That is what our great profession as educators is all about!


Students want to have a "voice" in their educational process.

Listening is imperative to learning. Many times we are so busy trying to complete the task at hand and listening is not a priority. I believe that when it comes to listening, we need to go slow to go fast. By listening to our students and gaining a better perspective of their voice, we are able to be more effective teachers. When students have a voice in our classroom, it allows for learning to be relevant and, more importantly, it allows us as teachers to slow down a bit and truly be in the moment, and listen to what students have to share to expand the educational experience.


Relevance, Relationships and Rigor, in that order, needs to be the centerpiece of any educational lesson.

In all of our lives, things that are important to us are Relevant. As educators we need to live by the 3 R's, Relevance, Relationships and Rigor. These are listed in a specific order for a reason. When making the educational process and content relevant we have prepared our students for further exploration and learning. Relationships play a huge part as we design lessons to be relevant for students. Getting to know students and building a positive rapport is the beauty of education. We have the ability to make a profound impact on the lives of students through the relationships we have built over time. Once Relevance and Relationships are established, Rigor will really take care of itself. The stage has already been set because interest and trust has been established and now students are able to take on difficult tasks in ways they may not have believed to be possible.


Individualized curriculum for students is important, but as important is the individualized professional learning for teachers.

We have the ability to grow and enhance our skills by targeted, individualized and specific professional learning. This can come in a variety of ways, but I believe that the use of technology can greatly enhance the learning opportunities for all educators. We want our students to grow each and everyday in our classroom. As teachers we also want to grow and get better at what we do in our classroom. I believe that we are moving in the right direction in starting to move away from "one size fits all" regarding teacher professional learning. We need to continue to personalize our continuous improvement opportunities for all teachers. We work extremely hard in meeting the needs of our individual students and in doing so we must work just as hard at providing what we need as teachers as part of our lifelong-learning process.


Hands on problem-based and project-based learning are essential to develop decision-making and leadership skills.

I love the quote from a colleague of mine, "Students learn best from their fingertips backward." When students are working with hands-on projects, they are engaged, active and excited about learning! Problem-based and project-based learning are the hallmarks of Career and Technical Education. CTE provides students time and space to truly apply their knowledge. Critical thinking skills and leadership skills are prevalent in this type of learning environment because it is standards-based learning and truly mastery learning at its best!

The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.


Paul Galbenski is the Dean at the Oakland Schools Technical Campus Northwest. Prior to his new position in the fall of 2012, Paul was a Business, Management, Marketing, & Technology teacher at the Oakland Schools Technical Campus Southeast. He is the co-founder of America’s Marketing High School. America’s Marketing High School (AMHS) is a national educational leader in providing FREE online business and marketing curricula. Coursework includes a capstone project based on America’s grandest marketing & advertising event, the Super Bowl.
Paul is a graduate of Central Michigan University. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech/Broadcasting and Marketing along with his teaching certificate in 1989. He earned his Master of Arts degree in 1992 in Interpersonal and Public Communication while teaching as a graduate assistant at CMU.

In 2011, Paul was named Michigan Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Department of Education. He is the first Career and Technical Education Teacher to earn this prestigious award. During the 2008-2009 school year, he was the recipient of the Wells F. Cook Master Teacher of Secondary Business Education Award presented by the Michigan Business Education Association (MBEA). Also during the 2008-2009 school year, Paul earned a Japan Fulbright Memorial Teacher Fund Scholarship.
Paul has been very active with student organizations and athletics outside of the classroom. He is an advisor for the Global Trade Mission and an advisor for the Skills USA Championships as well as a committee member for the National Technical Honor Society at OSTC-SE. Paul’s students also participate in several capstone community service marketing projects that benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Paul has spent the last 21 years as a high school basketball coach. He led his teams to several league championships and earned numerous Coach of the Year Awards. Paul is the founder of the Knights Basketball Coaching Academy, training over 1,200 coaches on the fundamentals of basketball and how to establish a positive basketball program for our youth.  All proceeds benefit Coaches vs. Cancer.

Paul has extensive experience in utilizing technology to facilitate learning within his classroom. This facilitated approach to learning has allowed his students to earn national certifications and certificates in the Informational Technology and Business arenas. Paul is a member of many professional organizations and he has extensive experience as a conference presenter and provider of professional development for teachers on a local, state and national level.