Category Archives: Business, Marketing and Information Technology Education

Oklahoma CareerTech Students Win NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awards

Three Oklahoma CareerTech students received the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing.

They were honored at an April 23 awards ceremony at the Tom Love OU Innovation Hub on the University of Oklahoma-Norman campus.

Madelyn McDonald, a cyber defense student at Moore Norman Technology Center, received the Aspirations in Computing Award.

Favour Aloziem, a Computer Science Academy student at Francis Tuttle Technology Center, and Sara Kennedy, a pre-engineering/robotics student at Southern Technology Center, received honorable mention recognition.

Award recipients were selected from more than 3,500 applicants from all 50 U.S. states; Washington, D.C.; Guam; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; U.S. overseas military bases; and Canada. Selections were based on outstanding aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing as demonstrated by computing experience, computing-related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access and plans for postsecondary education.

“Encouraging all students’ interest in technology careers is critical: Our workforce needs their creativity and unique perspectives to produce technology that is as broad and innovative as the population it serves,” said NCWIT CEO and co-founder Lucy Sanders.

CareerTech Named CyberPatriot Center of Excellence

Oklahoma CareerTech has been named a CyberPatriot Center of Excellence by the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program.

CyberPatriot is the AFA’s National Youth Cyber Education Program. It was created to inspire K-12 students to enter careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines critical to the future of the United States. The CyberPatriot program includes the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition for high school and middle school students, AFA CyberCamps and the Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative and Literature Series.

Since the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education took leadership of the Oklahoma CyberPatriot program, participation has more than doubled, said Kristi Akehurst, program specialist and information technology cluster team leader in CareerTech’s business, marketing and information technology division.

“Oklahoma CareerTech is proud to be recognized as a CyberPatriot Center of Excellence,” said Lee Denney, ODCTE interim state director. “CareerTech is dedicated to advancing CyberPatriot’s mission to promote more interest in cybersecurity careers or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines critical to U.S. security.”

In a letter of support, AFA Gerrity 215 Chapter President Jeff James wrote that the program in Oklahoma has grown from 30-50 teams to more than 100 teams since it moved to CareerTech.

Through CareerTech’s participation, James has been able to speak to teachers from across Oklahoma to grow the Elementary School Education Initiative, and CyberPatriot representatives attend CareerTech local, regional, state and national conferences to share information through vendor booths.

CareerTech has also hosted many CyberCamp programs on technology center campuses throughout the state.

CyberPatriot instructors host train-the-trainer programs each summer for potential coaches and mentors, Akehurst said; students, coaches and mentors receive training each fall at CareerTech locations around the state. Students compete locally and at state contests, and instructors and trainers are supported through recognition dinners and stipends hosted by ODCTE and AFA, she said.

“We value our instructors and students who are involved in the Oklahoma CyberPatriot program,” she added.

Oklahoma CareerTech manages the curriculum and shares it through a learning management system provided to all of the instructors in the state.

Oklahoma CareerTech Students Win NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awards 

Three Oklahoma CareerTech students received the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing.

They were honored at an April 23 awards ceremony at the Tom Love OU Innovation Hub on the University of Oklahoma-Norman campus.

Madelyn McDonald, a cyber defense student at Moore Norman Technology Center, received the Aspirations in Computing Award.

Favour Aloziem, a Computer Science Academy student at Francis Tuttle Technology Center, and Sara Kennedy, a pre-engineering/robotics student at Southern Technology Center, received honorable mention recognition.

Award recipients were selected from more than 3,500 applicants from all 50 U.S. states; Washington, D.C.; Guam; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; U.S. overseas military bases; and Canada. Selections were based on outstanding aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing as demonstrated by computing experience, computing-related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers to access and plans for postsecondary education.

“Encouraging all students’ interest in technology careers is critical: Our workforce needs their creativity and unique perspectives to produce technology that is as broad and innovative as the population it serves,” said NCWIT CEO and co-founder Lucy Sanders.

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.

About NCWIT

NCWIT is a nonprofit community that convenes, equips and unites change leader organizations to increase the influential and meaningful participation of girls and women — at the intersections of race/ethnicity, class, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status and other historically marginalized identities — in the field of computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development. Find out more at www.ncwit.org.

CareerTech Champions

Kacey Hawkins – Metro Technology Centers

Metro Tech student has her future buttoned up.

Kacey Hawkins knew she loved social media, and she didn’t want a “regular 9-to-5 job.” That’s where the Trinity School student started in her career planning process. Trinity is an Oklahoma City school that serves children with learning differences.

While in high school, Hawkins enrolled at Metro Technology Centers, first completing the cinematography program and then tackling web design. In the cinematography program, Hawkins learned video editing, lighting and special effects. But she picked up several soft skills at Metro Tech as well, including time management, problem-solving, and of course the importance of spell check.

She said she has also learned a lot about photo editing and is working on her Photoshop certification.

“Mrs. Roberts, my instructor, is like my school mom. She gives us a real perspective of what it’s like to work in the industry, and she encouraged me to get certified,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins graduated high school and plans to build her own business. Still hungry for knowledge, she recently enrolled in Metro Tech’s graphic design program and has started making custom buttons for special events.

As a child, Hawkins remembers helping her mom make custom buttons. But the button-making tradition goes back even further.

“My grandma told me she used to make buttons for rodeo cowboys,” she said. “She gave me her button supplies, so I have an inventory for my business!”

Hawkins recently used those supplies and her new skills to make buttons for a project commissioned by her school counselor in recognition of National Button Day. 

CareerTech, Express Partner on Work-Based Learning

Oklahoma CareerTech is partnering with Express Employment Professionals and the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development to create more work-based learning opportunities for students.

Long established within the CareerTech System, the program offers students chances to learn technical skills and life skills in classes and then it teaches students how to apply them in the workplace through mentoring, job shadowing, internships, and apprenticeship opportunities.

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with CareerTech,” said Bob Funk Sr., president and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals – Oklahoma. “Work-based learning is a great fit for Express and for Oklahoma because it prepares our next generation of employees for the workplace, where there are more jobs than there are workers right now. We could not be more excited about our involvement in this program.”

Work-based learning can introduce students to businesses and workplaces in Oklahoma, but it can also help businesses by creating a pipeline of future employees. Some companies, however, are reluctant to participate in work-based learning for liability reasons, said H.L. Baird, statewide work-based learning liaison at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

The innovative partnership among CareerTech, Express and Workforce Development reduces businesses’ liability risks while providing students paid internships, Baird said.

“The students will be employed by Express and serve as contract employees for the worksite employer,” he said. “This approach also connects the vast employment resources of Express to the students and schools at no cost to participate.”

The partnership will be statewide, but it will be customized through local Express agencies and their industry connections so individualized plans will fit each student, employer and school.

The Express network of employers will provide benefits to both students and businesses. Students will be able to experience internships with multiple employers and even multiple industries, Baird said; if an internship is a poor fit, the student can be reassigned with another Express employer. For businesses, Express will handle all the human resources processes, including recruitment.

“Finding the right employees is what Express does,” Baird said. “We understand the pandemic has created a myriad of workforce challenges for business across the state. Finding skilled employees is a key limiting factor in our state’s recovery. This partnership provides employers access to new and emerging Oklahoma workers who have enrolled in classes and programs that prepare them for the world of work.”

The partnership will be available to all students 16 and older who are enrolled in CareerTech programs in the Oklahoma CareerTech System’s 29 technology centers districts and 394 PK-12 school districts across the state. Through the partnership, CareerTech and Express will help students gain job experience while also helping employers develop future employees.

Businesses, students and school leaders who want more information about the innovative approach to work-based learning can contact H.L. Baird at h.l.baird@careertech.ok.gov, visit the CareerTech work-based learning webpage at okcareer.tech/wbl or contact their local Express Employment Professionals office.

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.

Oklahoma CareerTech Celebrates CTE Month in February

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education continues to respond to the needs of individuals and business and industry in the state while focusing on helping Oklahomans succeed in life, education and the workplace.

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 is an integral part of Oklahoma’s economy,” said Marcie Mack, ODCTE state director. “By providing individuals with the education, training and skills necessary to be successful in their careers, CareerTech is also providing companies with the quality workforces they need to compete globally.”

The CareerTech System delivers educational experiences through a network of 394 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 13 skills center sites in correctional facilities and 31 adult education and family literacy providers.

CareerTech continued building partnerships with other state agencies, industries and nonprofit organizations to expand its programs.

ODCTE signed a memorandum of understanding with the Film Education Institute of Oklahoma to provide training and curriculum to meet film industry employment demands in the state. The system’s technology centers have developed film career training programs for students who want to work as film and television production professionals.

The CareerTech Testing Center and the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety partnered in 2021 to offer Class D written driver’s license and motorcycle license tests through CTTC’s network of test facilities. They are now expanding to offer written tests for commercial driver’s licenses.

CareerTech’s Skills Centers School System received a grant to open a new skills center at the Northeast Oklahoma Community Corrections Center in Vinita. It also saw the first class of female inmates graduate from a truck driver training class.

Skills centers operate in Oklahoma’s correctional and juvenile detention facilities to give incarcerated individuals the opportunity to learn the skills they’ll need to make successful transitions to the workplace.

CareerTech’s 29 technology centers operate on 59 campuses throughout the state. High school students can attend the technology centers in their districts for free, learning skills that will help them land good jobs after school and also position them to continue their education after graduation. Adult students learn new skills and earn certificates and credentials to get jobs, change careers or advance in their current careers.

Oklahoma’s PK-12 school districts offer CareerTech courses in 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.

Their students also can learn leadership skills as members of co-curricular CareerTech student organizations: FFA; Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America; SkillsUSA; Technology Student Association; Business Professionals of America; HOSA; and DECA.

CareerTech’s Business and Industry Services Division helps Oklahoma companies increase their profitability with increased sales, higher productivity, reduced costs and expanded operations and helps companies move to and start up in Oklahoma. Oklahoma PTAC helps companies secure government contracts.

The CareerTech System helps those who dropped out of high school earn diplomas and gain skills to enter the workforce through the dropout recovery program and also oversees Oklahoma’s adult education and family literacy program, which offers high school equivalency programs and tests along with English literacy and civics courses.

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.

CareerTech Champions

Taylor Frech – High Plains Technology Center and DECA

Taylor Frech didn’t feel like her local high school was enough of a challenge, so she decided to try something new. She said she didn’t even know what DECA was when she signed up to join, but she soon discovered it was exactly what she needed. Frech said the CareerTech organization for students in marketing, finance, hospitality and management provided her the challenge she had been missing.

She served as state officer for two years and said the lifelong friends she made through DECA were just bonuses on top of the other benefits she garnered. She gained insight into the day-to-day operations of multiple businesses, learned how to work as part of a team, and developed effective communication skills.

Frech took marketing as an elective at High Plains Technology Center, and she attended the tech center three hours a day.

“I began to fall in love with coming to school each day,” she said, “and I found ways to challenge myself through the marketing program and DECA.”

After high school, Frech received a bachelor’s degree in restaurant, hotel and institutional management. She’s now revenue manager for Hilton’s corporate office and vice president of Hilton’s service organization, Hilton Helping Hands. Frech said she uses the skills she gained from CareerTech every day, both professionally and personally.

“I felt as though CareerTech had enabled me with years of experience that others my age did not have,” she said. “It prepared me to take on each challenge and opportunity head-on.”

Welcome to CareerTech

For more than 100 years, Oklahoma CareerTech has been connecting students and businesses with training opportunities that help Oklahomans find rewarding careers and support Oklahoma industries. Our goal is to develop a world-class workforce for Oklahoma employers and prepare Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education and in life.

  • 29 tech centers operating on 59 campuses 
  • 394 PK-12 school districts 
  • 13 Skills Centers campuses 
  • 31 Adult Basic Education providers at 116 sites
  • 426,00 total CareerTech enrollments in FY21
  • 5,670 companies served by CareerTech in FY21

CareerTech Champions

Branson Brewer — High Plains Technology Center and DECA

THEN: A marketing class offered through his high school was all it took to send Branson Brewer down his career path. Brewer enrolled in the marketing program at High Plains Technology Center, and that’s where he discovered his passion.

At High Plains, Brewer gained a number of skills he uses in his career, including

  • Public speaking.
  • Marketing.
  • Investing.
  • Filming and video editing.

He was president of his school’s DECA chapter (the CareerTech leadership organization for students in marketing, finance, hospitality and management) and received his marketing assistant certification from High Plains.

“These skills have helped me be a better communicator, be more social and have better working relationships,” he said.

Brewer said networking was the best part of his CareerTech experience, meeting great friends and mentors who made a positive, lifelong impact.

His marketing education didn’t end with his high school diploma from Woodward High. He is working toward his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in marketing at Northwest Oklahoma State University.

NOW: Brewer uses the skills he gained in marketing and DECA every day, both as a hobby and in his career. The on-air radio personality and account executive at Classic Communications Inc. discusses advertising plans with prospective clients and uses his skills to market and promote local businesses. He also creates videos for the radio station’s online live sports stream.

Away from work, Brewer applies his love of photography and videography to making vacation videos that allow him to capture lasting memories of his leisure time.

“CareerTech is an affordable way to learn real life skills that will help you for years to come,” he said.

CareerTech Essential to Meet Workforce Needs

A qualified workforce is critical to the state’s economic well-being and will be vital to its recovery following the pandemic. Oklahoma CareerTech, which has long been a major component of Oklahoma’s economic engine, will play a starring role in this recovery.

Through a network of 399 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 13 skills center sites and 32 adult basic education providers, the strengths of Oklahoma’s CareerTech System include accessibility and flexibility.

Through partnerships with business and industry, Oklahoma CareerTech has responded quickly to the state’s immediate workforce needs by providing customized career training in a wide range of industries, including health care, agriculture, aerospace and energy.

Read more in CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack’s guest column in The Journal Record.

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