Category Archives: Business, Marketing and Information Technology Education

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.

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 students produce work-based learning videos

Eleven groups of Oklahoma CareerTech students from three technology centers recently earned money for their programs by showing the benefits of work-based learning.

The students participated in a student work-based learning video contest sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. Each group produced a video sharing the benefits they have received from participating in work-based learning.

“The Fall 2020 Student Work-Based Learning Video Contest was created to encourage students to share work-based learning experiences in their own words,” said H.L. Baird, Oklahoma CareerTech work-based learning liaison. “We know how powerful work-based learning can be for providing the critical relevance that supports the academic and technical skills students learn in their CareerTech programs. And we know how powerful the voice of students are to other students.”

Each entry earned either $250 or $500 for the students’ programs. Entries for the contest came from Mid-America Technology Center, Moore Norman Technology Center and Tulsa Technology Center:

  • MATC Health Careers Explorer Program, “Experiencing Healthcare First Hand.”
  • MATC Veterinary Assistant Program, “Making Connections Working With Wildlife.”
  • MATC Veterinary Assistant Program, “Haz Tu Futuro Hoy (Make Your Future Today.”
  • MATC Health Careers Explorer Program, “A Career In Caring.”
  • MNTC Web Design Program, “MNTC Web Design.”
  • MATC Horticulture Technician Program, “Petal Pushers.”
  • MATC Veterinary Assistant Program, “For Those With A Heart – Experiencing Work-Based Learning With The Wildcare Foundation.”
  • MATC Veterinary Assistant Program, “Every Animal Large Or Small You Can Health Them All.”
  • Tulsa Tech TV Production, “TV Production With CareerTech #1.”
  • Tulsa Tech TV Production, “Working Towards Success.”
  • Tulsa Tech TV Production, “TV Production With CareerTech #2.”

The videos can be seen on Oklahoma CareerTech’s YouTube channel.

Work-based learning is an integral part of the Oklahoma CareerTech System. It is a partnership between education and business to create a skilled workforce for both now and the future, Baird said.

“Connecting with professionals in a student’s chosen career field brings a wealth of insight and knowledge students can learn from. WBL allows businesses to be proactive in developing the workforce they need to be successful. Both students and businesses have the opportunity to learn about each other through WBL experiences,” he said.

To learn more about work-based learning, visit the CareerTech website or contact Baird at 405-743-6812 or h.l.baird@careertech.ok.gov.

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, 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.

February is Career and Technical Education Appreciation Month

During a year of pandemic changes, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education kept its focus on helping Oklahomans succeed while adding new programs in response to new needs.

The Oklahoma CareerTech System is celebrating CareerTech Education Month in February. Gov. Kevin Stitt recently issued a proclamation declaring this month as Career and Technical Education Appreciation Month in Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma CareerTech continues to deliver high quality education despite the pandemic. We remain laser-focused on the multiple career paths for students and meeting the workforce needs of businesses and industries in the state,” said ODCTE State Director Marcie Mack. “The work of Oklahoma CareerTech across the state provides meaningful results for Oklahoma’s economy.”

Oklahoma CareerTech expanded its programs in response to the pandemic as it continued its focus on filling skills gaps for both employees and employers in the state.

ODCTE worked with partners to launch several new educational initiatives in 2020, including a new energy career cluster to promote the benefits of pursuing careers in energy; online meat processing courses to fill a workforce shortage in the meat processing industry; and a mobile meat processing laboratory.

ODCTE worked with the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing to revamp a nurse refresher course to get nurses back in the field faster. In addition, technology center nursing students across the state assisted with COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics.

The CareerTech Testing Center worked with the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association to offer certification exams for veterinary assistants and with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to use the Oklahoma Peace Officer Screening and Selection Exam developed by CTTC for OHP Academy applicants.

Oklahoma CareerTech also launched VirtualJobShadow.com to introduce more state students — more than 16,000 in 20 PK-12 and technology center districts — to nontraditional careers. The platform is ideal for schools and students doing virtual and distance learning because it is video-based.

When Oklahoma’s schools pivoted to distance learning in the spring of 2020, instructors in the 29 technology center districts and the 399 PK-12 school districts with CareerTech courses developed ways to help their students continue learning to finish the year. ODCTE offered additional instructional resources and guidance to tech centers and schools to help them with distance learning.

CareerTech students and teachers across the state also donated medical supplies, masks and more to help frontline pandemic workers.

Employees in CareerTech’s 13 skills centers, which operate in Oklahoma’s correctional and juvenile detention facilities, developed new processes that will better serve graduates; reduce barriers to reintegration; and improve communication, teamwork and probability of graduate success.

During a year of pivots caused by the pandemic, Oklahoma CareerTech was able to stay true to its mission of preparing Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education and in life and expand its offerings to meet new needs in new ways.

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, 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 by the Numbers in Fiscal Year 2020

  • 399 PK-12 school districts with 1,399 teachers and 132,532 enrollments
  • 29 technology center districts with 58 campuses, 1,306 teachers and 310,285 enrollments
  • 37 percent of sixth through 12th grade and almost half of ninth through 12th grade students enrolled in CareerTech courses: agricultural education; business and information technology education; family and consumer sciences education; health careers education; marketing education; science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and trade and industrial education.
  • More than 86,000 students in co-curricular CareerTech student organizations: FFA; Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America; SkillsUSA; Technology Student Association; Business Professionals of America; HOSA; and DECA
  • 18,685 industry-endorsed certificates earned
  • 13 skills centers with 35 teachers and 1,541 enrollments
  • 32 adult basic education providers at 111 sites serving 10,768 students
  • 297 students earning high school diplomas in dropout recovery program
  • 7,295 industries served by business and industry training
  • 1,767 new jobs with training from ODCTE Business and Industry Services Division
  • $390 million secured by state companies in government contracts with help from Oklahoma Procurement Technical Assistance Center

More than 1,600 attend virtual BPA, DECA conference

Oklahoma Business Professionals of America and Oklahoma DECA hosted a virtual Fall Leadership Conference for more than 1,600 students and advisers.

The conference centered around students finding their leadership voices and using them to amplify their strengths as leaders, role models and BPA and DECA members. In addition to sessions on learning their styles and working with other leaders, students also heard from Alton Carter, author of “The Boy Who Carried Bricks” and “Aging Out” and founder of the Alton Carter Inspire Foundation, which helps individuals in foster homes, group homes and boys ranches earn college degrees.

“This year has brought about so many changes, but one thing it has not changed is the hard work and dedication that Oklahoma CTSO state officers pour into their organizations,” said Paxton Cavin, state BPA and DECA adviser. “No matter what has been put in their path, on their list or abruptly changed, these officers have stepped up to the occasion. I could not be more proud of these two state officer teams and the work they have done and continue to do during this crazy year.”

CareerTech Champion

Joe Muchiri Wathika – Francis Tuttle Technology Center and BPA

Then: His classmates saw a shy young immigrant from Kenya with a heavy African accent that was difficult to understand. Joe Muchiri Wathika said he wanted to learn how to edit videos, so the Deer Creek High School student enrolled in Sherri Gleaves’ class at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. Wathika learned the ins and outs of broadcast and video production, but he said those skills aren’t the ones that changed his life.

Wathika described himself as a self-conscious, introverted teenager before he enrolled. He tried to withdraw into a shell, but his instructor continually challenged him to do more. He rose to Gleaves’ challenges and served as a chapter, state and even national president in Business Professionals of America, the CareerTech leadership organization for students in business, marketing and information technology education.

“Mrs. Gleaves helped me cultivate character and a sense of responsibility that continues to transform my life,” Wathika said.

In addition to self-confidence and positive character development, he said he gained public speaking skills and study habits that enabled him to

  • Receive the Chesapeake Scholarship to study economics at Oklahoma City University.
  • Receive the Gilman and Boren scholarships to study Chinese in Taiwan.
  • Hold multiple leadership positions in student government and lead the ethics debate team.

“Choosing to be involved in CareerTech was the most important and impactful decision I made in high school,” he said. Now: Wathika is a financial services representative at Oklahoma’s Credit Union. He said he uses the skills he learned from Gleaves’ class every day. He is able to clearly communicate to members, and as a result of Gleaves’ mentorship, Wathika has built a character based on integrity, humility and honesty.

“I definitely owe it all to the marvelous woman, Mrs. Gleaves! She was a universe, more than a teacher!”
Joe Muchiri Wathika, Oklahoma’s Credit Union

The 53rd Annual Oklahoma Summit

Oklahoma Summit - 53rd Logo

  • Registration is open.
  • Summit dates are Aug. 4-5.

The 53rd Annual Oklahoma Summit will be held virtually this year.

Online Registration

All participants are strongly advised to register in advance to provide a quicker, more efficient log-in experience. Beginning July 8, online registration requires you to fill out your personal information for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education to enter into its new data storage system. After you complete your information for ODCTE, you will continue on to the OkACTE website to verify your personal information with OkACTE. From there, you will proceed with registration and membership options. The online registration/membership is located on a secured site. When registering, please be sure to print your paid receipt. This will help facilitate your log-in process.

Register Here for Oklahoma Summit 2020

For any questions or assistance with online Summit registration, please contact the OkACTE office at 405-525-8906 or

Oklahoma CareerTech Student Organizations Give Back

Oklahoma CareerTech student organizations may have ended their yea4_in_web_red_blkr online with virtual meetings, but they continued to give back with statewide philanthropic efforts.

Oklahoma HOSA members donated more than $31,900 to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and Oklahoma FCCLA members helped raise more than $7,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. FCCLA members and advisers also have been sewing hundreds of masks to help essential workers during the pandemic.

Oklahoma FFA members donated 565 animals as part of the FFA Hunger Challenge to benefit the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma was able to make 904,000 protein sticks from the donated animals. Some FFA chapters also donated cash through the Cents Makes Sense program by giving $1 from each fundraising item sold.

Oklahoma BPA members raised more than $7,200 for Special Olympics Oklahoma, and Oklahoma DECA members raised $700 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Oklahoma CareerTech: Developing a World-Class Workforce

Oklahoma’s Career and Technology Education System is focused on developing a world-class workforce. This comprehensive system delivers educational experiences through 394 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 16 Skills Centers sites and 32 adult basic education providers and to more than 6,900 businesses.

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