The program, which is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and was developed in coordination with the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, serves as a liaison between MidAmerica employers and other key community organizations. The Department of Labor provides technical assistance for the formation of on-the-job work processes including technical instruction and has guided MAIP and Northeast Tech through the steps of developing the program.
Participants in the two-year program spend four hours a week in the classroom and the rest of their week at work. The program is in its first year, and the participants are employees at MAIP businesses, giving MidAmerica companies the opportunity develop employees from within.
Travis Smith, a heating, ventilation and air conditioning instructor at Metro Technology Centers, recently received the Outstanding Instructor of Non-Traditional Students Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council.
He was one of 21 Oklahomans honored at the 25th annual Making It Work Day at the Capitol on March 28. Making It Work Day recognizes individuals who are committed to removing barriers to success for single-parent families by providing educational experiences for students beyond the classroom. The ceremony also recognized nontraditional students and members who received national honors for their efforts.
From left are Becki Foster, Oklahoma CareerTech chief of staff; Patrick Klein, Oklahoma DHS chief officer and division director of adult and family services; Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Oklahoma City; Travis Smith, Metro Tech HVAC instructor; and Goldie Thompson, OSRHE vice chancellor for student preparation and special programs
Individuals were recognized on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and presentations were made at a luncheon at the Oklahoma History Center.
Smith has worked in the HVAC industry for more than 13 years. While teaching HVAC at Vatterott, he attended an advisory board meeting at Metro Tech for his boss and met an HVAC instructor who was retiring, said Terri Grusendorf, Metro Tech BEST Program coordinator, who nominated him for the award.
“Not only does he help students obtain their HVAC certification, he also teaches them about interpersonal skills, communication and proper presentation in the workforce,” Grusendorf said. “Mr. Smith is a great example of going the extra mile for his students.”
OkCTEEC is affiliated with the administrative division of the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education. The council advocates for students pursuing nontraditional careers and for resources for educating single parents.
“OkCTEEC is so very proud and honored to host the Making It Work Day award ceremony and also very excited that Oklahoma’s Legislature has the opportunity to recognize those students who were nominated for outstanding achievement. This day is about recognizing not only outstanding students, but also business and community partners, instructors, OkCTEEC members and outstanding leadership. The students have incredible stories to share about overcoming barriers, but without all the partners, sometimes the barriers may not be overcome. This day is a day of celebration for all those who have vested their time and energy into seeing students succeed and rise to the occasion,” said KayTee Niquette, Work Prep and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.
She serves as an adviser for OkCTEEC, along with Lisa French of the Department of Human Services and Gina McPherson of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
“OkCTEEC Making It Work Day at the Capitol is about making connections, reaching out to the community and recognizing our students who have pushed through many obstacles to make completion and employment goals a reality. It is a day to celebrate our administrators and instructors who focus on making it accessible for programs involved in the process,” said Angela Barnes, OkCTEEC president and coordinator of the Student Success and Opportunity Center at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City. “OKCTEEC Making It Work Day is a day to tip our hats off to our business partners for providing their valuable services and supporting our vision and purpose. It is a great day to let our state leaders, legislators and Oklahomans see the faces of those who go over and beyond at making a difference in our state.
“Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council is an organization devoted to equity in education and employment for disadvantaged groups. I can’t emphasize it more. We are dedicated to providing real-life experiences for our students, developing leaders and maintaining relationships within communities.”
OkCTEEC’s purposes include promoting and supporting career and technology education, increasing its effectiveness, promoting research in the field and in educational equity, developing leadership and advocating for equity and diversity.
For more information about OkCTEEC, visit www.cteec.org/. For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, visit www.okcareertech.org.
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.
Anthony Rifenberry – Adult Basic Education
Graduation and certification are terms this BPA winner didn’t expect to hear.
THEN: He had been an orphan all of his life. Anthony Rifenberry moved from a series of foster homes to the Oklahoma Lions Boys Ranch, now Lions Meadows of Hope. When he turned 18, he needed to find a job.
It was a vicious cycle. To get a job, he needed training, and to get training, he needed money. But the roadblocks didn’t stop there. Anthony wanted to enroll in Meridian Technology Center’s information technology program, but to qualify for the financial assistance he would need, he would have to have a high school diploma.
Anthony enrolled in the Meridian Tech’s adult basic education program, and in only three months, he earned his high school equivalency diploma. The ABE program gave Anthony:
The confidence to believe he could graduate high school.
Personal assistance with complex math and other subjects required to pass the HSE exam.
The knowledge and skills he needed to pass the HSE exam.
The smaller, more intimate classroom environment was one of the keys to Anthony’s academic success.
“I definitely learned more math at Meridian Tech than I did in high school,” he said.
NOW: Anthony is a member of Business Professionals of America, and his network design team won the state contest. The team will compete at BPA’s national conference in Anaheim, California, in May. After he graduates with his network and PC support specialist certification, Anthony would like to continue his education, possibly enrolling in network engineering or cybersecurity.
“I had convinced myself that graduating high school and getting into a technology center was not possible.”