Meet Our Instructors

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We wanted to give you an chance to meet our instructors. Below is a chance to meet our instructors and get to know them and the expertise they bring into the program.


Ashley Burford

-Administration of WSL

Ashley Burford has been a Family and Consumer Science teacher in the Cheney School District for the past six years. Ashley was drawn to CTE courses when she was in high school, which lead her to eventually purse FCS education. While earning her degree at Central Washington University she received an Emerging Educator Award out of all of the graduating education students.  

Ashley was the Worksite Learning Coordinator for two years for Cheney High School, where she evaluated students at their place of employment and set goals for the students to meet. Ashley has taught a variety of courses over the past six years including: Child Development, Clothing & Textiles, Food Science, Introduction to Culinary Arts, Interior Design 1 & 2, Personal Finance/Independent Living and Teaching Academy. She currently is an FCCLA Advisor at Cheney High School. 

Noelle Carstens

-Fundamentals of CTE
-Philosophy of CTE

Noelle Carstens is the Pre/K - 5 Elementary Principal, Assistant Middle School Principal, and CTE Director in the Davenport School District in Davenport, WA.

Noelle began her teaching career in Stanfield, Oregon teaching a variety of CTE business and marketing courses at both the middle and high school levels. There she also worked as the CTE Director, and started the FBLA program for the high school.

In 2013 Noelle moved back home to Lincoln County, receiving a position teaching CTE business & marketing in Davenport. In addition to her teaching duties, Noelle served as the FBLA Advisor, running a very successful chapter averaging 60-70 students each year even while in a small rural school district. The chapter consistently had members placing at state level and competing at nationals, routinely placing in the top 10. In 2019, the Community Service Project team earned first place while competing in San Antonio, Texas.

Over the span of Noelle’s teaching career she has taught a wide variety of CTE courses including: 7th & 8th Grade Keyboarding, Introduction to Business, Accounting, Advanced Accounting, College Ready, Pre-Teacher Education Program, Computer Applications, Leadership, Job’s for Washington’s Graduates, Health, Student Store, Work Based Learning, and Graphic Design & Journalism. Several of these courses provided students opportunities to receive an industry certification, and/or dual credit.

In 2015 Noelle added CTE Director to her duties in Davenport. Through Noelle’s work as a CTE Director, a number of new courses and programs were implemented with the help of grants applied for and received. For example, an AP Computer Science Principles course was implemented, a K-12 STEM pathway was developed through the receipt of a grant that provided teacher professional development and curriculum/supplies to implement a number of Project Lead the Way courses, a Rural Satellite Skill Center with both a Construction Trades and Nursing Assistant program was created, an apparel heat press business was built through an FBLA Partnership with Business project, and a CASE (Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education) Ag Engineering Pathway is currently being phased in through the receipt of a grant. In addition, a number of industry standard technology, equipment, and curriculum was added into each of the CTE programs in Davenport due to grants applied for and received.

Completing her administrative credentials through WSU-Spokane in 2016, Noelle also took on several administrative roles in addition to CTE Director, serving as the Dean of Students, GEAR UP Director, and Technology Director. From 2016-2020 Noelle spent half her day doing administrative work, and the other half of the day teaching Leadership, Accounting I & II, Job’s for Washington’s Graduates, and maintaining the Work Based Learning program. Beginning July, 2020 Noelle transitioned to her new role in the district as a principal and keeping the CTE Director role.

Adam Smith Picture
Adam Smith

- CTE Portfolio
- CTE Practicum

Adam Smith been teaching at Cheney High School in Cheney, WA since 1998. He currently is a FBLA Advisor, CyberPatriot coach, Spokane CTSA President, and the Online Professional Learning Academy Plan 2 CTE Certification program director.

In 2010, he became a National Board Certified teacher and renewed his certification in 2020. In 2014, he was recognized by Cisco as an Expert Level Instructor placing him in the top 10% of the Cisco instructors globally based on the success of his academy and the success of his students.

As a teacher, he has have received multiple awards. In 2014 and 2021 he was awarded the FBLA Advisor of the Year. In 2016, he received the Washington State Business Education Association teacher of the year. In 2017 he received the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator award, and in 2018, he received the Western Region Business Education Association Educator of the Year award.

He began teaching Microsoft Office Applications and Keyboarding and quickly fell in love with teaching technology. In 2001 he went through training to be a Cisco Networking Academy Instructor and has maintained a Cisco Networking Academy since then. Cheney is one of the only Cisco Networking Academy offered at a comprehensive high school in Washington.

In 2012 Adam began to investigate offering AP Computer Science at his school and was able to finally offer the class for the 2014-2015 school year. In his first year he had 23 of the 27 students who took the AP exam pass and of those had four students earn 5s. Since then he has maintained an 80% pass rate for his students on the AP exam.

Adam’s work with Computer Science has created some exciting opportunities. In 2016, he was asked to be part of a team of educators to meet with Washington State Senator Patty Murry to discuss an emphasis on teaching Computer Science and in 2019, he had the opportunity to deliver a TED Salon talk about Computer Science at Western Washington University.

Adam has run a very successful FBLA chapter that that has earned numerous state awards and routinely places students in the top 10 in the nation. His chapter has had one national champion, three 2nd place finish and five 3rd place finishes since 2010 with over 50 national top 10 placers. His chapter is particularly successful in Network Design competition placing top 15 in the nation 9 times.

Additionally, Adam runs a CyberPatriot club that consistently places multiple teams into the top 10 for Washington state and top 200 in the nation.

In 2018, Adam was hired as part-time CTE Director for Cheney School District. He currently spends half of his day doing CTE administrative work and the other half of the day teaching. He loves teaching anything technology. His current course offerings include Cisco Networking, AP Computer Science A, AP Computer Science Principles and Cyber Security.

Venetia Willis-Holbrook

- CTE Classroom Stratagies
- CTE Classroom Management

Veneta Willis-Holbrook is the Supervisor of Secondary Initiatives and Site Administrator for the CPSD Open Doors program in Clover Park School District in Lakewood, WA.

The program is a 2018 National School Board Association MAGNA First Place Winner. The 2018 award theme was equity. Her program focuses on removing barriers and building relationships with students and families using trauma skilled practices to help students reach graduation. In 3 1/2 years the program has graduated 150 students who were severely credit deficient. She has reduced out of school suspensions, and increased family involvement in her program.

Her work includes special projects including implementing house bill 1541 and the new discipline rules for the district. This work includes developing systems and structures to reduce and eliminate discipline disparities in the district through cultural competency and intervention.

She is a presenter for the 2019 Beyond Paper Tigers conference for the session “Strategic Planning for High Expectations in a Trauma Informed School”

As an administrator, she coaches staff to build relationships with students through home visits, self regulation, and clear expectations. She is passionate about recognizing ambient belonging and implicit bias in classroom environments.

In the Plan 2 program, she plans to challenge student’s thinking about their students’ behavior and teach them skills to dig deeper to uncover what the functions of behavior are for students, and their barriers to success. She also plans to help students explore cultural competency through self-awareness and awareness of their students’ experience.

Venetia has spent all her educational experience in diverse, urban, high poverty schools.

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