CareerTech Champions

Each year, thousands of Oklahomans reap the benefits provided by Career and Technology Education. CareerTech Champions tell the story of how individuals apply learning to become successful employees, entrepreneurs and leaders in business organizations.

Lawson TLawson Thompsonhompson – Carney Public Schools

Ag educator says students gain “purpose, preparedness, and professionalism.”

THEN: A self-described sports fanatic growing up in a small town, in a sports-minded family. Lawson Thompson aspired to play college sports, like his mom, dad and brother had done. That was before he got involved in agricultural education. In his senior year at Deer Creek-Lamont High School, Lawson decided to give up sports to dedicate his energy toward his new passion, FFA. He served as a state officer that year and went on to Oklahoma State University for a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences and natural resources. Lawson said devoting himself to agricultural education and FFA was one of the greatest choices of his life.

“It’s a lot more than cows, plows and sows,” he said. In FFA, Lawson developed skills he uses every day, including

  • Communication – the value of clearly communicating with people of all ages in various settings, as well as public speaking.
  • Leadership – how to be a better leader, mentor and role model.
  • Time management – active participation in numerous ag and non-ag activities helped him learn how to manage his time.

“I utilize skills I gained from agricultural education/FFA every day,” Lawson said. “I would not be an effective educator, mentor, husband or person if I didn’t understand values such as hard work, dedication, discipline, leadership and service.”

NOW: Agricultural education instructor and FFA adviser at Carney Public Schools. Lawson’s FFA chapter was chosen as one of the top 10 chapters in the country. His students also nominated him for KFOR-TV’s Thankful 4 Teachers award, and he was one of the top 10 nominees in the state. Sponsor Air Comfort Solutions recognized Lawson with a $5,000 check.

“I strongly believe that if an employer interviews a candidate who came through any one of CareerTech’s eight student organizations (FFA, FCCLA, HOSA, DECA, TSA, BPA, SkillsUSA or NTHS) and one who did not, that candidate who was a CTSO member will get the job 10 times out of 10.”

Lawson Thompson, agricultural education instructor
(former Oklahoma FFA state officer, former Oklahoma CareerTech ag education intern)

ACTE Announces Oklahoma Graphic Communications Instructor as 2019 National Teacher of the Year

Liz-Dinkins-214x300The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) announced Liz Dinkins, Graphic Communications Instructor at Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma as the 2019 National ACTE Teacher of the Year. This award recognizes the finest career and technical education teachers at the middle/secondary school level who have demonstrated innovation in the classroom, commitment to their students and dedication to the improvement of CTE in their institutions and communities. The Teacher of the Year Award is sponsored by Express Employment Professionals.

Student success is the top priority for Dinkins. Recently, after consulting her advisory board, Dinkins has enabled her students to determine what order they want to learn curriculum, based on their interests. This keeps students engaged.

Student assessment is conducted through a project-based curriculum, in which students get to show their creativity based on a set of conditions. Similar to industry expectations, project-based learning exercises prepare students for the workforce. Standards and competencies are aligned to each course and prepare students for Adobe Certified Associate certifications in three software programs. Dinkins uses engaging instructional strategies in this curriculum wherein she personalizes students’ learning tracks. Dinkins’ CTE program of study curriculum, instruction, materials, and assessments are inclusive, nondiscriminatory and free from bias.

All of Dinkins’ students are Business Professionals of America (BPA) members. Dinkins integrates BPA into her coursework, and the students compete at state and national levels.

“The nominees for ACTE Teacher of the Year are an incredibly distinguished group of educators who are inspiring the next generation to rise up and fill the skills gap in the current workforce,” said Bill Stoller, Express CEO and chairman of the board. “I extend my congratulations and appreciation to this year’s honorees, as they all continue to embrace innovative teaching methods that will develop the up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow.”

Dinkins was one of five finalists for the 2019 national title. The national winner was announced at the ACTE Awards Banquet, a dinner and award presentation recognizing the best CTE educators in the country. The event took place on Wednesday evening, November 28, during ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2018 conference in San Antonio, Texas. The Awards Banquet was sponsored by Express Employment Professionals, the US Army, CareerSafe, Goodheart-Willcox, and Stratasys.

About ACTE
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit association committed to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. ACTE represents the community of CTE professionals, including educators, administrators, researchers, school counselors, guidance and career development professionals and others at all levels of education. ACTE is committed to excellence in providing advocacy, public awareness and access to resources, professional development and leadership opportunities.

Article reposted with permission from Jarrod Nagurka jnagurka@acteonline.org

CareerTech Academy Helps Fill Skills Gap at Ditch Witch

With a low national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find skilled workers, particularly in manufacturing.

Ditch Witch

Ditch Witch employees participate in skills academy developed by Meridian Technology Center.

With plans to increase production and a goal of filling 45 newly-created positions, Ditch Witch in Perry turned to Meridian Technology Center to partner in a new training initiative. The program was funded in part through the Training for Industry program.

That initiative was aimed at filling jobs in five manufacturing areas: material handling, machining, welding, painting and assembly.

This month, eight employees graduated from the Ditch Witch Skills Academy with a focus in welding. Meridian Technology Center’s Business and Industry Services team worked with Ditch Witch to develop the customized program. During the nine-week program, those in training were hired on as full-time employees and received a salary and benefits. The primary requirements for getting hired were a steady work history and a desire to work in manufacturing.

Meridian BIS employees and Ditch Witch production supervisors collaborated to develop the training curriculum, delivery and outcomes for the skills academy. Meridian developed the curriculum, identified qualified instructors, monitored the trainees’ progress and evaluated the effectiveness of the training throughout the nine weeks.

The academy’s curriculum includes training in manufacturing fundamentals, welding and other technical skills, safety, computer skills, teamwork and communication skills. The students who completed the program received their OSHA 10, forklift, CPR/First-Aid and National Career Readiness certifications as part of the program.

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 58 campuses, 393 comprehensive school districts, 16 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 31 Adult Basic Education service providers.

The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.

Oklahoma CareerTech System Graduates Add More Than $3.5 Billion Annually to the State’s Economy

2018 Delivery ArmsACCESSIBILITY

One of the strengths of the CareerTech System is its accessibility to almost every Oklahoman.

  • CareerTech offerings in 393 comprehensive school districts – 1,319 teachers
  • 29 technology center districts with 58 campuses – 1,234 teachers
  • Business and industry training attracts new industry and helps existing businesses expand and prosper – 6,948 industries
  • 16 Skills Centers (inmates/juvenile offenders) – 38 teachers
  • 31 adult basic education providers at 121 sites

One of the primary strengths of Oklahoma’s CareerTech System lies in its diversity. Here are a few of the diverse constituencies the CareerTech System serves:

  • Oklahoma’s businesses and industries.
  • Junior high school students.
  • High school students.
  • Non-diploma-holding adults.
  • Employed adults.
  • Unemployed adults.
  • Senior citizens.
  • Law offenders.

FY18 CareerTech Systems EnrollmentsEach of these constituencies has its champions, Oklahomans who have personally experienced what the system has done for them or who have witnessed that personal growth in others.

The system’s diversity helps it rise to the challenge of meeting its goals:

  • high expectations.
  • new standards and accountabilities.
  • managing and staffing such a diverse system.
  • funding emerging technologies.

Through efforts such as High Schools That Work, we’ve seen firsthand that cooperative efforts between CareerTech educators and academic teachers pay big dividends in increasing academic performance.

Oklahoma’s CareerTech Education System maintains high-quality instruction by recruiting, retaining and developing instructors on the front line. We have placed great emphasis on our teachers attaining national certifications in their respective fields. In addition, Oklahoma ranks in the top 10 states per capita with teachers who have earned certification through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

Our mission — our single and steadfast mission — is to help Oklahomans succeed in the workplace, in education and in life.

CareerTech Champions

Each year, thousands of Oklahomans reap the benefits provided by Career and Technology Education. CareerTech Champions tell the story of how individuals apply learning to become successful employees, entrepreneurs and leaders in business organizations.

Ethan Tucker – Red River Technology Center

Home-school student does double-duty at Red River Technology Center.Ethan Tucker

THEN: A home-school student growing up on his grandparents’ farm. Ethan Tucker never received a diploma, and when he decided to work outside the farm, his options were limited. At Red River Technology Center, he signed up for high school equivalency classes, at the same time enrolling in Red River’s HVAC program. He went half days to HSE classes, and the other half of the day he studied HVAC.

“I chose HVAC because there’s a constant need for heating, and in Oklahoma there’s an even greater need for cooling experts,” Ethan said.

Ethan said at Red River, he:

  • Earned his HSE diploma.
  • Learned fundamentals of electrical skills.
  • Gained mechanical troubleshooting skills related to heating and air conditioning.
  • Won both state and national titles at SkillsUSA competitions.

“I’m a competitive guy,” he said, “and SkillsUSA allowed me to compete while working on my troubleshooting skills.”

NOW: Ethan is an industrial maintenance technician for Goodyear Tire and Rubber in Lawton, Oklahoma.

SkillsUSA is probably the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Ethan Tucker, industrial maintenance technician

Preparing Oklahoma Students for the Workforce

When a CareerTech student brings an idea to life by prototyping it on a 3-D printer, or receives affordable, hands-on training that raises his or her earning potential by tens of thousands of dollars in a matter of months, these experiences are priming them with the skills and sense of purpose needed to work for the companies doing big things in Oklahoma. Employers are taking note, and in some cases even finding ways to support our efforts to prepare the next generation to join the workforce.

Marcie-Mack11x14-X2

Dr. Marcie Mack

One such company is Midship Pipeline, a project of Cheniere Energy, representing nearly a $1 billion investment in our state. Thanks to Midship’s recent generosity, STEM programs at six Oklahoma CareerTech Technology Centers, in addition to two universities, each received $20,000 donations that will improve the quality of STEM offerings. These funds will be used to buy advanced 3-D printers, create a mobile STEM library, and provide equipment and software upgrades to pre-engineering and aeronautical labs.

Our CareerTech system frequently partners with industries and companies to improve access to STEM education. In fiscal year 2018, CareerTech helped more than 6,900 Oklahoma businesses through our customized training programs and participation in the state’s bid assistance network.

Equally important, CareerTech STEM programs serve private-schooled students, home-schooled students and public school students from more than 390 school districts.

Our goal is to nurture creative students in grades six through 12 to be problem-solvers, innovators, logical thinkers, inventors and strong communicators who excel in science and mathematics.

CareerTech STEM programs play a critical role in expanding a talent pipeline of Oklahoma students who are ready to pursue viable careers in the state’s targeted industry sectors such as aerospace, energy, advanced manufacturing, health care and biotechnology.

A few examples of our STEM offerings are biomedical sciences, pre-engineering and computer science academy programs, which are taught in technology centers as well as high schools. These prepare students for professional health, engineering, computer and science degree programs with rigorous computer, math and science courses, including AP options for students.

More than 80 middle schools and junior highs benefit from our Gateway programs, which introduce students to STEM careers. Gateway courses combine Project Lead The Way math and science concepts with STEM projects to explore STEM fields and help with the transition to high school.

Last, our CareerTech programs provide a pathway for students to enter directly into a career and continue into post-secondary education. A national survey completed by Advance CTE shows that 91 percent of parents of students in CareerTech believe their child is getting a leg up on their career.

One of the greatest challenges facing Oklahoma and the nation is producing skilled workers who are trained on the latest STEM technologies and are ready for work. Without them, Oklahoma businesses cannot compete. CareerTech and our affordable STEM offerings are meeting this challenge.

Thanks again to Midship for recognizing the value of the CareerTech system and for its generous gift that will help prepare our students for a future in STEM-related fields.

Mack is director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network

The Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network provides marketing and technical assistance to Oklahoma businesses interested in selling products and services to federal, state, local and tribal governments. The primary purpose of OBAN is to create jobs and expand the economy in Oklahoma by providing specific, valuable resources to Oklahoma businesses.

OBAN services clients out of 12 participating technology centers across Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education administers the program. As a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), OBAN is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).

Services include:

  • Daily computerized opportunity match report
  • Personal consulting in marketing & contracting
  • Proposal review
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Help in securing training, data and other resources
  • Helpful Links

If you have questions or have suggestions for how OBAN can better support your efforts, please email: okptac@careertech.ok.gov

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