Author Archives: OkCareerTechDelivers

CTSO officers attend CareerTech University

Oklahoma CareerTech student organization state officers recently attended CareerTech University at Camp Tulakogee in Wagoner, Oklahoma. Officers from all seven co-curricular CTSOs attended the conference, where they learned about goal-setting, time management, teamwork and presentation skills.

At CTU each year, officers participate in training sessions and group activities to help them lead their organizations. They also learn more about the Oklahoma CareerTech System during the event. CTU provides the student leaders an opportunity to come together and share ideas about how they can best represent the CareerTech System as a whole.

OEIP plans summer sessions

Oklahoma Education & Industry Partnership offers an outstanding professional development opportunity for Oklahoma educators each summer.

What is OEIP?  These events are the ultimate teacher/industry connections!  The mission is to create a pipeline for partnerships among educators, counselors, administrators, partners, students, industry leaders, government policy makers and members of the economic development community. See video here

CareerTech’s Oklahoma Education and Industry Partnerships has planned five sessions this summer covering the film industry, construction trades, manufacturing and health, aerospace and automotive industries.

Sessions will be June 10 at Green Pasture Studios in Spencer, June 16 on Zoom, July 15 at MidAmerica Industrial Park and Northeast Technology Center, July 20-22 at Metro Technology Centers and July 26 at Oklahoma City Community College.

Film Industry

When:  June 10
Where:  Green Pasture Studios, Spencer
What:  Industry Panel Studio Tour

Registration Link

Construction Trades

When:  June 16
Where:  Zoom
What:  Industry Panel Studio Tour

Registration Link:  Coming Soon

Manufacturing

When:  July 15
Where:  Mid America Industrial Park & Northeast Technology Center
What:  Industry Panel Studio Tour

Registration Link:  Coming Soon

Health, Film and Aerospace 

When:  July 20 – 22
Where:  Metro Technology Center, Oklahoma City
What:  Aerospace Commission, Unmanned Safety Institute, Tech Labs, Scott Sabolich Prosthetics Research, UCO Forensics

Registration Link:  Coming Soon

Automotive 

When:  July 26
Where: Oklahoma City Community College
What:   Industry Speakers, Program Tours

Registration Link:  Coming Soon

CareerTech employee receives Air Force Association STEM education award

Oklahoma CareerTech’s STEM program manager recently received an award for her work promoting STEM education.

The Air Force Association Central Oklahoma Gerrity Chapter presented Tonja Norwood with the Gerrity Chapter President’s STEM Education Award. Pictured are, from left, Col. Michael Tiemann, vice commander of the 72nd Air Base Wind; Norwood; and Janelle Stafford, AFA Central Oklahoma Gerrity Chapter president.

The Air Force Association Central Oklahoma Gerrity Chapter presented Tonja Norwood with the Gerrity Chapter President’s STEM Education Award.

Norwood has been the program manager for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education since 2018. She previously served as an information technology program specialist in ODCTE’s Business, Marketing and Information Technology Education Division.

“Tonja has been instrumental in expanding STEM educational opportunities across the state,” said Marcie Mack, CareerTech state director. “Her dedication and leadership are vital to the success of our students, educators and future workforce. Tonja is very deserving of this award and recognition from AFA. We are honored to partner with them for the betterment of our state.”

Oklahoma CareerTech has partnered with the AFA Central Oklahoma Gerrity Chapter to provide CyberPatriot and StellarXplorers, providing classroom space and equipment, volunteer instructors and more, said Janelle Stafford, president of the chapter.

“Because of CareerTech’s involvement, we have had a much wider and more pervasive reach for both programs,” Stafford said. “Tonja has been at the very heart of all of this with our chapter. She knows these programs inside and out. She put in the time to get both programs certified as curriculum for Oklahoma Promise credits. Most recently, she undertook the certification training for the STK software used in StellarXplorers just so she would understand it better — not an easy thing to do!”

Norwood is also leading an effort to establish a train-the-trainer summer camp for StellarXplorers and is involved in both CyberPatriot and StellarXplorer student camps this summer, Stafford said. The AFA chapter wanted to do something to show its appreciation for Norwood’s support, so it created the Gerrity Chapter President’s STEM Education Award, Stafford said.

“With the support of Tonja and CareerTech, the Gerrity Chapter will continue to grow STEM education in our state and invest in our future workforce,” she said.

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, 399 PK-12 school districts, 13 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 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.

CareerTech Champions

Cody McCuistion – Meridian Technology Center and BPA

Guthrie High School student said MTC technology program was “too cool to pass up.”

THEN: A lover of technology, long before high school. When Cody McCuistion heard he could spend half of each day at Meridian Technology Center learning more about what he already enjoyed in his spare time, it was an easy decision for the Guthrie High School student. But then, McCuistion discovered he was also going to earn 68 hours of college credit — while he was still in high school!

He enrolled in Meridian Tech’s network engineering program and joined Business Professionals of America, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with business, marketing and information technology education. McCuistion said he loved BPA and enjoyed competing at the state and national level.

He said the two-year program at Meridian Tech fast-tracked him to receive industry certifications, knowledge and experience. McCuistion

  • Received CompTIA A+ certification, Microsoft Server certifications and Cisco network training.
  • Graduated with a high school diploma and essentially a two-year associate degree in the same year, while only paying $5 per credit hour.
  • Gained confidence in his abilities through BPA.

“The program led to a jump-start in my career path,” he said.

Although technology has advanced since McCuistion was in school, he said he uses a variation of those network engineering skills every day.

NOW: A solution architect for Hitachi Vantara. McCuistion sets up and delivers proofs of concept and product demonstrations for Hitachi Vantara’s Unified Compute Platform suite of enterprise products.

He has designed and built various server deployments and worked in mission-critical scenarios to restore failed services or resolve performance, reliability or security issues. McCuistion also has experience in highly secure environments tied to the Department of Defense, identifying security vulnerabilities in deployments and engineering ways to close those holes.

McCuistion said CareerTech’s concurrent enrollment options offer students the opportunity to learn skills that apply immediately to their future success. He urged today’s young people to avoid accruing debt for education expenses whenever possible.

“Seek out training in skills that can generate an income stream now and use that income to pay for further education, if that’s wanted or needed down the road,” he said.

“CareerTech offers much-needed skills for today’s workforce. Don’t pass up the opportunity to take advantage of it!”

Cody McCuistion, Hitachi Vantara

CareerTech Champions

ShiAnne Farris — Northwest Technology Center and HOSA

THEN: ShiAnne Farris didn’t choose between college and CareerTech — she chose both. And that was just the beginning. Farris was a junior at Alva High School when she took the first step toward her career goal of becoming a doctor, enrolling in Northwest Technology Center’s health careers program. At Northwest Tech, she

  • Learned baseline medical knowledge.
  • Served as a state officer in HOSA, the CareerTech student organization associated with health careers.
  • Networked with peers and gained valuable leadership skills
  • Received numerous certifications, including certified nurse aide, certified medication aide and massage therapy.

After high school, Farris went to Northwestern Oklahoma State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree in 2013. But even that wasn’t her end goal. Far from it. A few years later, Farris returned to NWOSU to work on prerequisites for medical school. She was accepted to the Oklahoma State University School of Medicine in 2019 and expects to graduate in 2023. After that, Farris expects to have three or four years of hospital residency.

In addition to school, Farris has worked as a CNA, CMA, nurse and registration clerk at Share Medical Center and Alliance Health. She is on the rural medicine track and plans to return to Alva to practice medicine. With a stubbornness that became a fierce determination, according to her instructor at Northwest Tech, Farris has faced – and conquered – a series of tough challenges.

NOW: She drives three hours home to Alva on weekends to spend time with her 6-year-old daughter and 16-month-old son. As she works toward becoming a doctor of osteopathic medicine specializing in either emergency or family medicine, Farris said she schedules every second of her day — her showers, study time and even the time she makes phone calls. Farris said she believes it is never too late to go after what you want.

“It’s okay to be stubborn. Never let anyone tell someone they can’t do something.”

ShiAnne Farris – medical student and mother

Female inmates graduate from truck driver training class

Four Oklahoma women are blazing new trails in big rigs.

The women are graduates of the first truck driver training class for incarcerated women. The program is a partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

“This program and others like it align with our mission to help offenders transition successfully from the correctional system to the workplace,” said Oklahoma CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack. “We’re very proud of each of the ladies, who have learned the skills they need for prosperous employment that will make a positive impact on their lives and the state’s economy.”

Two of the women, all of whom came from the Oklahoma City Community Corrections Center, have been released from DOC custody and hired by an Oklahoma City-based over-the-road trucking company.

During an eight-week finishing program with the company, the two women will drive all over the country with a trainer, gaining experience as drivers. Once they complete their training period, the two women will be given their own trucks and hired as full-time drivers.

The other two women are scheduled for release later this summer and plan to interview with the same industry partner.

The women started their training class in March and ended it earlier this month. They completed an intensive four-week program that included both classroom time and driving time. Their classes were conducted at Central Technology Center’s satellite site in El Reno.

The program in which they studied started as a pilot project in summer 2019 with men who were on probation; the program transitioned to incarcerated individuals in 2020. Two classes of men from Union City Community Corrections have completed the program, but this is the first class of women.

“They aren’t just giving us a job, they are giving us a whole new life,” Joanna Fowler said in an ODOC video. “And I’m so grateful for it.”

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, 399 PK-12 school districts, 13 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 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.

CareerTech Champions

Averee Murray – FFA

Owasso FFA president is “one to watch.”

Then: An Owasso eighth grader whose first love was soccer. Averee Murray’s horizon broadened when her sister let her tag along to the school barn to help take care of her show pigs. Murray said she knew right away she wanted to be part of the FFA experience, describing the atmosphere as “competitive, yet kind,” and the students as “well-rounded.”

She enrolled in agricultural education and became active in Owasso’s FFA chapter, where she is currently serving as chapter president. She participated in the 2020 Oklahoma FFA Officer Leadership Conference and credits FFA for helping her develop a strong work ethic, as well as teaching her

  • Time management skills.
  • The value of attention to detail.
  • How to be more proactive.

The high school senior said she integrates those skills into speechwriting, raising show pigs, interviewing for scholarships, interacting with friends and working on group projects in school, along with many other professional and personal activities.

After high school, Murray plans to major in agricultural communications at Oklahoma State University.

“I consider CareerTech as a stepping stone to my future career pathway,” she said. “It provides students a safe environment to learn about their interests, while providing an easy transition from student to professional.”

Now: Murray is one of 20 students selected to serve on the Oklahoma Agriculture Youth Council and one of only 97 Oklahoma high school students appointed to the 2021 Student Advisory Council, a group set up six years ago by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister to assist in policy matters. The Tulsa World recently named Murray as one of the 2021 Owassons to Watch.

After college, Murray would like to work in public relations for a large agricultural company or with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

“I learned that to get any further than you already are, you start saying yes to things you aren’t completely comfortable with in the moment.” Averee Murray, student

CareerTech student chosen as 2021 Presidential Scholar

An Oklahoma CareerTech student is one of two state students chosen as 2021 Presidential Scholars.

Sean Kuehn of Sand Springs is among 161 high school seniors in the 57th Presidential Scholar class who are being recognized for their accomplishments in academics, the arts and career and technical education fields.

Kuehn is a senior at Charles Page High School. He is the national president of Technology Student Association, a former state president of the Oklahoma Technology Student Association and a national champion in Prepared Speech. TSA is a CareerTech student organization affiliated with science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

Kuehn serves on Oklahoma CareerTech Director Marcie Mack’s Student Advisory Committee and Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s Student Advisory Council. Earlier this year, he was one of two Oklahoma students chosen represent the state during the 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program Washington Week.

CareerTech Champions

Jay Villemarette – Moore Norman Technology Center & SkillsUSA

CareerTech made such an impact he could feel it in his bones.

THEN: A self-conscious 17-year-old with an unusual hobby and no plans for his future. It was back in the ’80s when Jay Villemarette decided to enroll in Moore Norman Technology Center’s auto body course because he liked working with his hands. He didn’t know at the time that this decision would shape his future.

The auto body program taught the high school junior how to repair vehicles, but the personal and professional life lessons Villemarette learned from his MNTC instructor were even more valuable.

“Moore Norman is one of the first places I felt valued as a person,” he said. “And I owe much of my self-confidence to my instructor, Jim Opdyke. What he saw in me – at 17 – was something I didn’t see yet.”

One of the first lessons he learned was the importance of following through with the projects he started. Villemarette represented his class at the state SkillsUSA contest and placed third in the auto body competition. He went on to win fifth place at the national convention. Self-confidence was winning over self-consciousness.

It was the process of self-discovery that gave him the confidence to follow his true passion, which had absolutely nothing to do with cars. That passion started as a hobby when he was just a child.

How it all started

When Villemarette was 7 years old, he found a canine skull in the woods. He was fascinated by it, and with his father’s help he began collecting other skulls. By high school, he was selling them while he worked as an auto body technician.

Several decades later, what started as an unusual hobby is now a successful family business. Villemarette and his wife started Skulls Unlimited International, a mail-order company that services customers from around the world. Again, this is where his newfound self-confidence came into play.

“I created a market where a market hadn’t existed,” he said. “I brought skulls and skull collecting into the mainstream market and made skulls and skeletons available to the educational and science communities.”

Villemarette has supplied skeletons and skulls to many well-known museums, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.; the American Museum of Natural History in New York; and the Field Museum in Chicago. His company processes about 30,000 skulls or skeletons a year, making it the largest supplier of osteological specimens in the world. It was even featured on “Dirty Jobs” and “Modern Marvels”.

In 2010, Villemarette opened the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City. There, visitors can see a Komodo dragon skeleton that was a presidential gift to George H.W. Bush; a complete 40-foot humpback whale skeleton; and much more.

NOW: All three of his sons work for Skulls Unlimited with him and his wife, and two of the young men took courses at MNTC.

“These classes have done for my sons what it did for me,” Villemarette said. “I attribute much of my work ethic and self-confidence to my time at CareerTech.”

See: Skulls Unlimited featured on Dirty Jobs

See: Skulls Unlimited featured on Modern Marvels

Skulls Unlimited website

“CareerTech made an impact on my life that changed me forever.”  Jay Villemarette, Skulls Unlimited

Museum of Osteology
The history of Skulls Unlimited

Purple Ducks place second in national space challenge

CareerTech represented TWICE in StellarXplorers VII top 10.

Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s Purple Ducks beat out 209 teams from across the country at the national StellarXplorers VII High School Space Challenge.

(L-R): Bryan Kitzrow, Sean Rice, Renardus Herholdt, Samual Doerflinger (Team Captain), Clark Howard & Charles Koutahi

StellarXplorers is an Air Force Association program designed to inspire students to pursue education and careers in STEM fields that use space system engineering.

During the competition, teams defined orbits and spacecraft components and launched vehicles to meet a set of mission requirements. The students had to choose where to launch from, what equipment/sensors to choose for the payload while staying within the weight and cost constraints, and what orbit to select for the satellite to optimize its objective. The scenario used actual “real-life” situations, numbers, and constraints. Teams also gave a presentation to a panel of experts.

While preparing for and participating in the challenge, students develop skills such as teamwork, time management, communication, conflict resolution, leadership, risk assessment, critical thinking and relevance. They use problem solving-methods with complex open-ended situations.

The Purple Ducks team members were Sean Rice, Renardus Herholdt, Sam Doerflinger, Clark Howard and instructors Bryan Kitzrow and Charles Khoutai. The Oklahoma City students finished just a few points behind the Africanized Killer Bees, which represented Aurora Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, from Portland, Oregon.

Charles Khoutai said teams get to work with STK, a software platform that allows students to analyze the complex missions and operations in space.

“We never know what skills will open doors to for our students,” Khoutai said. “But with the establishment of the newest branch of military, “Space Force,” the relevance of space missions becomes real. 

CareerTech offers a state-approved course that aligns with the competition and includes earning an STK certification in level one and two.

Along with bragging rights, each of Francis Tuttle’s second-place team members received a $2,000 scholarship from the Department of the Air Force STEM program.

“The AFA is very proud of all the students who competed in the StellarXplorers National Finals,” said retired Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright. “Not only were they among the top teams this season, but they competed in the midst of a pandemic.”

Stephen K. Gourley, StellarXplorers program director, said, “These very talented competitors represent the next generation of the technical workforce the nation needs. With the graying and passing of the Apollo-era cadre, the U.S. needs to find and challenge talented students, whoever and wherever they are. We are quite proud of the participants’ demographics, all backgrounds, races and genders drawn from urban, suburban and rural populations.”

Edmond North’s Alex Loney, national TSA vice president

According to the AFA, nearly half of the StellarXplorers are underrepresented minorities and over a third are female. Sponsors of the program include Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Air Force STEM Program and L3Harris, with additional support from the Educational Alliance of Analytical Graphics Inc., Space Center Houston and Coyote Enterprises. 

The Stars AFJROTC team from Edmond North High School also competed in the finals and placed in the top 10. One of the members of that team was Alex Loney, national Technology Student Association vice president: https://tsaweb.org/about/people/national-tsa-officers.  

The CareerTech STEM division partners with the local Gerrity AFA Chapter to support StellarXplorers teams in Oklahoma. The two partners will join forces with the FAA to provide training June 9-10 for teachers interested in competing and/or adopting the course next year. For additional information, visit the Oklahoma CareerTech website at www.okcareertech.org/educators/STEM and select Professional Development.

Related content: Oklahoma News Report story on StellarXplorers

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