MPS’s Beutler nabs regional honor

Steve Beutler, Career Development Counselor for the Minot Public Schools, was recently named the Association for Career & Technical Education Region V Career Guidance Counselor of the Year at the ACTE Region Conference held in Bismarck on April 23-26. He will now compete for the national title at the ACTE CareerTech Vision Conference to be held in November in Nashville, Tenn.

Region winners were selected from among state award winners in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The ACTE Excellence Awards promote merit in career and technical education by recognizing individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to Career and Technical Education programs that exemplify the highest standards and organizations that have conducted activities to promote and expand CTE programs.

Beutler has worked as a career development counselor for 13 years. Prior to that, he was a K-12 guidance counselor. According to those who nominated him, Beutler has great communication and strong leadership skills and stays on the cutting edge of technology. He has used his technology skills to develop web pages, curriculum and career development activities which he shared with colleagues nationwide at different conferences. Some of the various curriculums he has developed teach kids about day-to-day expenses such as rent, insurance and car maintenance and the salary that will be required to support their dream lifestyles, about the job application and interview process, and about career planning.

In the application for the award, Beutler described how he developed one of the curriculums, called “MyLIFE”:

“During the 2002-2003 school year, Bremer Bank purchased 175 licenses to a program called ‘True Life Interactive’ and donated them to the Minot Public Schools Career Development Program. ‘True Life Interactive’ is a comprehensive budget activity in which students develop their fantasy future and estimated the cost of their future living expenses. At the end of the worship, every student said they now realized how much it cost to live and if they really want all these things in life, they better work harder in school. I was excited to think ‘They actually got it!’ The downside to this activity is that it cost $9 per student which wasn’t in my budget and it took eight class periods to complete. I decided to write my own curriculum, make it shorter, make it free for all students and name it ‘MYSELF.’

“The ‘MYSELF’ curriculum is a web-based life planning program designed to demonstrate how lifestyle choices can affect career choice. Through this program, participants develop a simulation of their fantasy future and calculate their future monthly bills including rent or house payments, car payments, car maintenance, gasoline, insurance, utilities, groceries, clothes and finally entertainment. After totaling all monthly bills, participants determine the hourly wage needed to support their choices.

“I (debuted) the ‘MYSELF’ curriculum with a class of seniors about a month before graduation in 2005. This took only three class periods to complete. During this pilot, I had a student pull me over to show a picture of a beautiful $45,000 truck he was going to purchase as a graduation present to himself. The student’s plan was to buy the truck, move to Los Angeles and get a job. I didn’t make a comment except to say that it looked like a nice truck. As he worked through the project, the student suddenly looked very sad as he raised his hand called me to his desk. The student said, ‘Mr. Beutler, I can’t afford this truck can I?’ I responded back with a ‘No, you probably can’t afford it.’ That truck was going to cost the student around $14,000 a year for payments, maintenance, gas and insurance. I asked the student, ‘If I would have told you that you couldn’t afford the truck when you showed me the picture, would you have believed me?’ The student’s response was, ‘No, I needed to figure it out for myself.’

“At the end of this lesson, I asked students what they got out of this activity and they all said they now realize how much it cost to live. One student even mentioned that now he knows why his parents couldn’t afford the $125 shoes he wanted. So the project was a great success. At the end of this project, I had a student raise his hand and ask, ‘Hey Mr. Beutler, did you really put this ‘MYLIFE’ project together?’ I replied ‘Yes.’ And the student’s response back was ‘gee, Mr. Beutler, I thought this was done by a professional!'”

The ‘MYLIFE’ curriculum can be found on the MPS Career Development web page and is free as long as it is not being used for financial gain.

Other curriculums developed by Beutler include “NAIL THAT JOB, the Application and Interview Process,” and “Career Jeopardy,” a career education activity for young people.