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Melinda Fornes Rises to the Top, Leads CTE Coordinators in NC

Melinda Fornes and David Woods presenting at the December Regional Meeting

January 2023

With a sharp focus on showering support, sparking innovation and demonstrating leadership throughout the Orange County Schools CTE program (and beyond), it’s no surprise that her professional peers from the region and across the state saw fit to give her a deserving title.

In November 2022, Orange County Schools’ Melinda Fornes was named “North Carolina CIMC of the Year.”

CIMC stands for Curriculum and Instructional Management Coordinator–a position Mrs. Fornes has held in OCS since July 2017. The annual conference is an opportunity for CIMC’s to collaborate on topics important to their support of Career and Technical Education, such as coaching teachers, credentialing, POL (proof of learning) and PBM’s (performance-based measures), and more. It was the third and final day when Mrs. Fornes was named CIMC of the Year.

PBM Trackers are the newest way CTE teachers will be able to access quick snapshots of concept mastery in courses that have no formal state assessments for Proof of Learning.

Mrs. Fornes and her fellow CIMC counterpart from Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Michael Woods, gave a brief presentation to directors prior to the start of the fall conference. Later on in the conference, Mrs. Fornes led a more extensive, 2-hour training for all CIMCs in NC who were in attendance. With dedication and collaboration across school district lines, the North Central Region professional learning community (team) of CIMCs developed and launched this new tool for programs across the state.

As CIMC, Mrs. Fornes does a lot of behind-the-scenes work for CTE in Orange County School.

The CIMC reports to the CTE Director, and the position relates directly to providing instructional support to CTE teachers and students. People in these roles also work closely with the overall C&I team, school based literacy and math facilitators, and others. CIMC’s ensure compliance in all courses in which students can earn industry-level credentials while still in high school. (Students who complete these courses have an advantage that even some adults do not have when it comes to applying for jobs and being considered for hire.) In addition to her assigned duties, Mrs. Fornes took it upon herself to become licensed as a Special Populations Coordinator–for no extra title, and for no extra pay. She felt compelled to fill in a gap in OCS where she recognized a need for Special Pops services, but there is currently no staff to serve in that capacity.

These new PBM Trackers are perhaps the greatest legacy that she will impart upon her CTE colleagues, which will reach far beyond CTE classrooms in OCS. 

Ms. Fornes said, “This work will shape how CTE teachers across the state view and report student proficiency on specific standards from now and into the foreseeable future.”

After introducing these PBM Trackers at the fall conference with her local colleagues, she and CIMCs from all eight regions officially rolled out the tool in regional meetings across the state on December 9, marking this as standard practice for CTE departments all over North Carolina. The trackers can be used as a reflection tool for the teacher that can help start conversations with students to gauge their level of understanding at any point in time. CIMC’s can have similar conversations with CTE teachers, to help them focus on how to deliver even stronger core instruction.

Mrs. Fornes said, “This work directly impacts how CIMCs and Directors can support teachers with student assessment and data management and even improvement in CTE Performance Indicators.” 

PBM Trackers are essentially active spreadsheets that are color coded, based upon whether a student is proficient in each/all of the standards in every course that uses data trackers as the measure to see if a student meets the criteria to pass these CTE courses. Fornes said these new tools will enable teachers to quickly and authentically assess student learning.

At any given time, a CTE teacher may open the tracker and see a quick snapshot of data, indicating things like: Which students do not fully grasp objective 2.1 (red)? How many students in the class understand objective 2.1 and can move on (green)? How many students are close to mastery, but may need a little more practice (yellow)? With a quick view to this kind of data, CTE teachers will be able to modify instruction to best meet the needs of every student and offer a quick report to principals and others who observe their classrooms.

Right now only 23 courses in CTE have Performance-Based Measures as the Proof of Learning. Orange County Schools offers 12 of the 23 courses, in which teachers already use PBM Trackers through Canvas. Mrs. Fornes and her team were tasked with developing the trackers for all 23 CTE courses in the state CTE curriculum that have the Performance Based Measure as the Proof of Learning. And as CTE courses evolve – along with the changes in career pathways, opportunities, and professional demands – the PBM Data Team will keep all trackers up to date.

This is my greatest WOW,” said Mrs. Fornes.

Misty Wolfe, State CIMC Consultant with NC DPI said, “I am so proud of Melinda and her selection as the 2022 CIMC of the Year. Melinda has helped create a system for tracking student progress at the local level to help teachers make better informed decisions about instruction within their classrooms. 

“Melinda and her colleagues in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Durham Public Schools have led this work over the past couple years and have rolled out an incredible toolkit for other Curriculum and Instructional Management Coordinators and CTE teachers to improve student outcomes locally. 

“Melinda's heart for education is evident in her work and I am so impressed by the way she leads CTE in Orange County Schools and throughout North Carolina!”

Shannon Braxton is Director of CTE and Cultural Arts for Orange County Schools. Together, she and Mrs. Fornes support the entire CTE program in Orange County Schools – which involves teachers, students, and community partners – and which allows OCS to offer more than 85 CTE courses.

The two agree they have a shared passion for “everything CTE.”

“I am simply so proud that NC recognizes how amazing Melinda Fornes is as a CIMC,” said Mrs. Braxton. “I already knew that she went above and beyond in her work role, but what an honor it is to have the North Central region recognize that work and then the NC division of CIMC to do the same!”

Ms. Fornes said, “I am very honored, very humbled, and very shocked, but it is amazing to be recognized for this,” said Mrs. Fornes. “I had a board member once tell me I just had a ‘fire in my belly’ for CTE, and he was right. Shannon and I are the dynamic duo of CTE in Orange County because we are both passionate about CTE. We have the same work ethic, and we want what is best for students and teachers.”

Shannon Braxton had this to say, “For her to get this award … is pretty amazing… Melinda is a behind-the-scenes person. For her peers in the region to recognize the work she was doing and to nominate her … and then for her to get to the state level–it’s just so rewarding to know she is being recognized for all she does.”

As the 2022 CIMC of the Year, Mrs. Fornes will serve on the CTE State Directors’ Advisory Committee as well as our CIMC advisory committee. She will lead professional development for CIMCs statewide at our 2023 CTE Summer Conference in Winston-Salem and will serve as a mentor for other CIMCs across the state.