Monthly Archives: July 2022

CareerTech Champions

Gabriel Lewis – Francis Tuttle Technology Center

Chef Gabe battles for MasterChef – again

In Season Eight, he made it to the top seven on the hit TV series “MasterChef.” That was in 2017. Gabriel Lewis of Oklahoma City was straight out of high school and working at a fast-food restaurant. Flash forward to 2022’s Season 12, and the Putnam City North alum is back on television in “MasterChef: Back to Win.”

Oklahoma CareerTech Champion from Francis Tuttle Technology Center

The Season 12 competitors are all experienced chefs making their second appearance on the show. After Episode Six, Lewis was among 17 chefs still in the running for the $250,000 prize.

For Lewis, much has changed since his television debut five years ago. He’s now a graduate of the prestigious Johnson and Wales University in Denver, he’s working on a cookbook, and he is booking private catering jobs all over the country. Together with his sister, a professional photographer, Lewis has created a dynamic collection of cooking videos as well as an impressive web and social media presence.

Before Lewis left the MasterChef kitchen in 2017, renowned New Orleans chef Aaron Sanchez even promised him a job after culinary school, but COVID shutdowns robbed him of that opportunity.

A passion for cooking runs in Lewis’ family. He grew up with three expert cooks – his mother, his aunt and his grandmother. He turned that love into a career plan, enrolling in a two-year program at Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s School of Culinary Arts while he was still in high school.

“Francis Tuttle gave me a snapshot of what the industry is really like,” Lewis said.

In addition to cooking skills, his experience at Francis Tuttle also gave him the confidence to audition for “MasterChef,” where he became a popular contestant. Fans were disappointed to see him eliminated, but world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay saw potential in the CareerTech grad and offered to pay his tuition at Johnson and Wales.

“You’ve got the potential to be huge in this industry,” Ramsay said in 2017.

Regardless of how “MasterChef: Back to Win” turns out, Lewis is already pretty big. He recently filmed a national commercial, he’s running a business, and he plans to compete in the World Food Championship in Dallas in November.

Oklahoma SkillsUSA Students Win at National Conference

Oklahoma SkillsUSA students brought home plenty of honors from the 58th National Leadership and Skills conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Students won 74 medals — 38 gold, 22 silver and 14 bronze — to place second in the nation for number of medals earned, said Emily Goff, state adviser with the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. Oklahoma had 177 competitors place in the top 10 during the conference’s competitions.

“The state of Oklahoma should be proud of the students and advisers who participated in the SkillsUSA National Conference. The students did a fantastic job demonstrating their skills and abilities learned in their chosen career and technology education fields,” Goff said. “Our amazing instructors and advisers provided professional guidance and support to the students setting the pathway to success.

“It’s clear with 74 Oklahoma medalists during SkillsUSA National Competition our students were motivated and prepared to compete at the national level.”

In addition, Gordon Cooper Technology Center was one of 24 schools in the country to be named a Models of Excellence school. The award recognizes schools for integrating personal, workplace and technical skills into SkillsUSA chapter activities. It is the highest honor a SkillsUSA chapter can earn.

Also at the conference, Autry Technology Center student Abby Vandiver was elected as a national postsecondary officer for the 2022-23 year.

More than 400 advisers, guests and competitors attended the conference from Oklahoma.

SkillsUSA is one of seven CareerTech student organizations affiliated with CareerTech programs. It is affiliated with trade and industrial education. The other six are Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (family and consumer sciences education), FFA (agricultural education), DECA (marketing education), HOSA (health careers education), Business Professionals of America (business and information technology education) and Technology Student Association (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

About Oklahoma CareerTech

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 59 campuses, 394 PK-12 school districts, 13 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.

Legislature Approves $8.8 Million for Oklahoma CareerTech to Meet Health Care Workforce Demands

The Oklahoma Legislature appropriated $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds today to expand Oklahoma CareerTech programs and address the state’s nursing workforce shortage.

Upon signature by Gov. Kevin Stitt, the bill will enable Oklahoma CareerTech to produce an additional 1,100 trained health care workers over the first five years of full implementation.

During the June special session, lawmakers allocated the following for the Health Care Workforce Development Revolving Fund:

  • $1,640,630 to establish a grant program with Indian Capital Technology Center to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
  • $2,032,767 to establish a grant program with Metro Technology Centers to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
  • $1,625,858 to establish a grant program with Tri County Technology Center to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
  • $3,504,368 to establish a grant program with the State Board of Career and Technology Education to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.

Funding CareerTech is the most economical way to reduce the skills gap in health care and other important industries in Oklahoma, said Oklahoma CareerTech Interim State Director Dr. Lee Denney.

“Oklahoma CareerTech is well-positioned to respond quickly and efficiently to our state’s critical nursing shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Denney said. “Our health care training programs prepare workers at all levels to meet the needs of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living centers and other facilities facing significant staffing gaps. We applaud the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding and the Oklahoma legislature for their thorough and transparent process to fund these important programs to improve health outcomes in our state.”

ARPA projects approved during the regular session included $634,000 for CareerTech nursing programs.

“The $9.4 million the legislature is putting towards CareerTech nursing programs is literally going to save lives,” said State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow. “Due to sky-high inflation, many are in search of higher paying work. Meanwhile, health care facilities across the state are in dire need of trained workforce. We are able to address both issues by deploying these taxpayer dollars quickly and efficiently. By partnering with CareerTech, we are making a transformative impact across Oklahoma for future students as well as future patients who will be in their care.”

Kiamichi Paramedic Students Hailed as Heroes

Oklahoma CareerTech is all about hands-on learning, and last week two paramedic instructors and their students took that learning approach to a whole new level at HOSA’s International Leadership Conference in Nashville. HOSA is the career and technical student organization aligned with health careers education.

CareerTech paramedic students from left to right, Dalton Mahoney, Katherine (Dee) McQuate, Ashley Newman, Katey Lawson and Ethan Flynt.

Lisa Dyer, Emergency Medical Services director at Kiamichi Technology Center in Poteau, teaches paramedics along with her colleague, Kelly Higdon. The two recently chaperoned a group of five adult, postsecondary students to the HOSA conference. The students – three from KTC, one from Northwest Technology Center and another from Central Technology Center – are certified emergency medical technicians studying to be paramedics, the highest level of emergency caregiver pre-hospital.

The conference was one of their last major events before graduation. For 16 months, Dyer and Higdon had taught the students about autonomous decision making, empathy, leadership, and of course academic theory and technical skills. KTC’s website says the EMS field offers “the thrill of saving lives in real-world emergency situations.” Little did the Oklahoma contingency know they would actually have that experience on their way to dinner on their first day in Nashville.

As the Oklahoma group prepared to leave their hotel, Dyer and the students heard a woman scream.

With coincidentally precise timing, a police officer showed up, responding to what he initially believed was an unrelated call. The students and officer were approached by two severely injured victims emerging from a nearby wooded area. The paramedic students, dressed in their blue HOSA uniform suits and white shirts, immediately ran toward the victims to provide lifesaving first aid.

The police officer on the scene offered the students a jump bag full of medical supplies and then worked to secure the scene. With the help of their instructors, the students immediately began rendering first aid.

While it was a gruesome scene as the victims had been brutally attacked, the students were not fazed by the patients’ conditions. Putting their training and learned skills to work, they bandaged, applied a tourniquet, and even tended to a severe neck wound.

“Because of the severity of the injury, one of the victims would have likely bled to death if we had not applied a tourniquet,” Dyer said. 

Although critically wounded, both victims were expected to survive, thanks to the quick, professional work of the students.

“They went right to work,” Dyer said. “They worked together like a well-oiled machine. I was so proud of them. We had practiced scenarios just like that,” she added.

Needless to say, the police officer was grateful for the help, as Nashville EMS was responding to a four-alarm fire at the time of the incident. The victims were transported to the hospital and are expected to survive, and the suspect has been arrested.

It wasn’t the students’ first opportunity to respond to an emergency, as they all work on ambulances as EMTs while attending paramedic classes. The Nashville situation, however, was more severe than most of them had experienced.

Dyer said she had never been prouder of students in her life.

“They did their job efficiently and effectively; they worked together as a team,” Dyer said.

Another lesson learned in the classroom, Dyer said: Teamwork makes the team work.