Category Archives: Career and Technology Education

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

CareerTech Champions

Desirae Woodward – ABE and Central Technology Center

NOW when she goes to a restaurant, she can sit and relax.

THEN: A waitress and a single mom. Desirae Woodward had dropped out of high school as a sophomore, and waiting tables was all she had ever done. Irregular work hours forced her to miss many of her children’s activities, and her job didn’t provide health benefits.

Food service was her only marketable skill, and even though she enjoyed her job, Woodward wanted more. In 2019, she enrolled in the adult basic education program at Central Technology Center. Determined to build a career for herself, she received her HiSET high school equivalency diploma a year later.

“I wanted to set a good example for my kids,” she said.

At Central Tech, Woodward

  • Gained computer skills and became more familiar with technology.
  • Developed good study skills and habits, which improved her testing scores.
  • Learned how to create a resume, which helped her land a job.

“I also gained confidence in herself and what I am capable of,” she said.

Having a diploma opened up doors for Woodward.

“I was able to apply for jobs I couldn’t apply for without a diploma or a GED,” she said.

She used that diploma to get a job at Central Tech. She said she uses her new skills every day.

NOW: No longer a waitress. Woodward said she has a “normal” job with great hours, working as secretary and classroom aide for Central Tech’s truck driver training program. She answers and directs calls, inputs student and class information, prepares graduation materials and orients incoming students. She receives on-the-job training in Word, Excel, Outlook, SharePoint and Lumatech software.

Woodward’s new job offers health benefits, and she gets to spend more time with her kids.

“CareerTech changed my life,” she said, adding that now, she gets to do her part to improve the lives of others.

She’s not finished learning. Woodward said she wants to build on her current skills and learn “any new thing thrown my way.”

“I want to raise my kids and just be happy,” she said.

“I want my kids to know you can do anything you set your mind to.”

Desirae Woodward, high school grad and Central Tech employee

CareerTech Champions

Phil Berkenbile – Agricultural Education and FFA

Retired state director’s dedication to CareerTech goes back to his high school days.

Then: A Dover, Oklahoma, farm boy, coming of age in the ’60s. When Phil Berkenbile enrolled in agricultural education at Dover High School, it literally set the trajectory for his life. He was an active FFA member, doing the usual ag stuff — showing animals, learning about crops and farming. But for Berkenbile, like so many other young people, FFA also taught invaluable life skills.

His ag education and FFA experiences taught Berkenbile

  • Public speaking skills.
  • Leadership skills.
  • Skills in agriculture mechanics, agronomy and livestock production.

Berkenbile said those skills have benefitted him well beyond his high school days. He said he uses them to work with professional organizations such as his local school board, the CareerTech Foundation board and the Morrison Lions Club.

“These skills are making a difference in my community,” he said. “I try to be involved and assist individuals and groups whenever possible.”

He has only worked in two places, he said. He began his career as an ag teacher at Morrison High School. In 1988 he moved into an ag leadership position with the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

“I use the skills I learned in FFA in everything I do,” he said. “It’s just become part of my background.”

He returned to Morrison Schools as superintendent, then later returned to CareerTech to finish his career, ultimately serving as CareerTech’s sixth state director until his retirement in 2013.

Berkenbile served on several boards and task forces, including as chairman of the Governor’s Taskforce on Healthcare and chairman of the Oklahoma Education Technology Trust Foundation. He received the prestigious 2012 VIP Award from the Oklahoma FFA Association and the 2010 VIP Citation from the National FFA Organization. The VIP Citation is one of the most prestigious awards a person can receive for supporting FFA and its programs.

Now: A 2015 inductee into the CareerTech Hall of Fame. Berkenbile called CareerTech a pathway to success.

“CareerTech programs prepare students with the skills to be successful in their field and in life,” he said.

Berkenbile serves on the Morrison School Board and the Morrison Community Development Association, among his many community service activities.

Six slated for induction into Oklahoma CareerTech Hall of Fame

The Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation will induct six people into the Oklahoma Career and Technology Education Hall of Fame in October. This year’s inductees are Kent Boggs, Carolyn Cotton, Nancy Randolph Davis, Bob Funk, Phil Waul and Greg Winters.

“These Oklahoma CareerTech Hall of Fame honorees have contributed significantly to the success of the CareerTech System,” said Marcie Mack, CareerTech state director. “Each recipient has advanced the mission of CareerTech in unique and extraordinary ways. We appreciate and honor their commitment to students, businesses and the lives of Oklahomans.”

Boggs retired from the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education in 2018 as the state FFA secretary. Before joining ODCTE in 1985, he taught agricultural education in Elgin and Marlow.

Cotton retired from ODCTE as a family and consumer sciences education program specialist. She taught FCS for more than 30 years before joining the state department.

Nancy Randolph Davis, who will be inducted posthumously, was the first Black student to enroll at Oklahoma A&M, which is now Oklahoma State University. She taught family and consumer sciences at Dunjee High School and Star Spencer High School.

Funk is the co-founder, president and vice chairman of the board of Express Employment Professionals and a longtime advocate of career and technology education. In 2018, he received the inaugural Oklahoma CareerTech Advocate of Excellence Award.

Waul worked for 42 years at Central Technology Center. He joined the tech center as a drafting instructor in 1973 and retired as superintendent in 2015.

Winters retired as Canadian Valley Technology Center superintendent in 2018 after 44 years in the CareerTech System. He also served as superintendent at Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center and Kiamichi Technology Centers.

The 2021 class of inductees will increase the Hall of Fame membership to 86. The Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Career and Technology Education, was founded in 1990.

Previous inductees include governors, college deans and professors, business and industry leaders, educators and CareerTech System faculty, staff and agency members.

The reception and banquet will be Oct. 14 in the OSU Student Union Ballroom.

For more information about the Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation, visit https://www.okcareertech.org/about/foundation.

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 Champions

Kaydee Clark – Tulsa Technology Center and HOSA

CareerTech in high school gave this student-turned-instructor a way to pay for college.

THEN: One of three latchkey siblings with a single mom who worked two jobs to pay the bills. While her mother struggled to take care of the family and put food on the table, Kaydee Clark said, she was fighting battles of her own. Plagued with multiple health issues, she was in and out of health care facilities throughout high school.

Even though Clark’s mother worked hard, she couldn’t come up with college money for Clark or her siblings. Her brother and sister joined the military, but Kaydee needed to find a career. One of her mother’s jobs was medical assisting, and Clark’s health care experiences had made her realize she, too, had a passion for helping others.

Like mother, like daughter — the high school senior enrolled in Tulsa Technology Center’s medical assisting program. She joined HOSA, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with health careers education. HOSA and Tulsa Tech helped Clark

  • Develop the ability to prioritize and become organized.
  • Pass the board exams for medical assisting and phlebotomy.
  • Learn leadership skills and the value of teamwork.
  • Improve her communication and problem-solving skills.
  • Develop a strong work ethic and resiliency.

Clark watched her mom work hard to get ahead, advancing to vice president of a popular health insurance organization. Clark had the same strong work ethic, and in 2004, she graduated from Tulsa Tech and began working as a medical assistant. She met her future husband at an urgent care center, where he was a patient.

After Clark became pregnant with their third child, she made a career change, accepting a grant-funded teaching job at her alma mater. After that job ended, she was offered a full-time teaching job with Tulsa Tech’s high school medical assisting program, the same program she sat in as a high school senior. It was that program that helped her get a job, and it was that job that gave her the resources to continue her education.

“I would not have been able to attend college later in life if I hadn’t learned a trade,” she said. “CareerTech equipped me with the ability to work and make money to support myself and my family.”

NOW: A member of the Oklahoma State University President’s Leadership Society, working toward a degree in psychology and school counseling and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Clark said she’s never leaving CareerTech.

“Even if I became a doctor,” she said, “my clinic would be staffed with Tulsa Tech students.”

“There is so much opportunity in CareerTech, and I am a product of it.”

Kaydee Clark, CareerTech instructor and OSU college student

Metro Tech announces new human cadaver lab

New human cadaver lab at Metro Tech offers training to first responders

A new human cadaver program at Metro Tech will offer training to first responders. Officials announced that Metro Tech is the first Oklahoma technology center to house a human cadaver lab program. On Mar. 31, over 40 first responders from Oklahoma’s Emergency Medical Services, Lawton Fire Department, Metro Tech health students and Great Plains Technology Center paramedic students practiced lifesaving skills on two human cadavers at the Springlake Campus located at 1900 Springlake Drive in Oklahoma City.

Metro Tech partnered with the University of Oklahoma’s College of Medicine and their Willed Body Program to host classes using donated human bodies. Utilizing human cadavers for medical training provides students with an exceptional learning experience and improved understanding over manikins alone.

Superintendent and CEO Aaron Collins said, “21st Century skills are created when partnerships come together serving a larger purpose. This is a great example of how we are helping our students and first responders in our state get real life training.”

Bill Justice is Deputy Chief of Special Operations for EMSA. As coordinator of the cadaver-procedure lab, Mr. Justice said, “We reached out to partner with Metro Tech to host the lab. Due to COVID, other cadaver labs were unavailable and remained limited to only full-time students.” He said, “By Metro Tech hosting this program, it will allow first response agencies to train on a more regular basis and allow individuals to obtain required skill checks for multiple levels of certification.”

The critical lifesaving skills taught were basic and advanced management of airway intubation, chest decompression, intraosseous (IO) vascular access and bleeding control techniques such as tourniquets, wound packing and compression dressing application. Brad Smith, instructor and physician assistant (PA) assigned to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Special Operations said, “EMSA recruits must complete the skills portion of the training before completion of their program. So, the ability to have a human cadaver lab ready to train in makes a world of difference.”

Smith received his training from the University of Oklahoma Physician Assistant Program in 2001, followed by adult trauma and pediatric trauma at OU Medical Center and has worked in Emergency Medicine for 15 years. Smith said, “There is no substitution for cadaveric tissue in critical skills training.” 

Jason Lankford, a critical care paramedic and now an adult instructional coordinator at Metro Tech said, “There are only a few universities that have this type of cadaver procedure lab. Mr. Justice with EMS and OU has been the driving force to make this possible. He is an excellent resource and we are proud to partner with him to offer this training at Metro Tech.”

This new lab will be used to enhance Metro Tech’s full-time health programs and offer a wide variety of specific one-day workshops to first responders who are paramedics, specialized law enforcement teams such as SWAT and the military. Lankford said, “We look forward to all of the possibilities this will provide our students, first responders and medical professionals in preparation of serving our communities.”

 Metro Tech’s original goal for a human cadaver lab was to customize one training event per quarter. However, based on interest, the frequency may change to once per month. For customized training, contact Jason Lankford at 405-595-4660 or Jason.lankford@metrotech.edu.

For More Information Contact:                                       

Cathy Story                                                                       
Public Information Officer                                                 
Metro Technology Centers                                                 
405-595-4403

Oklahoma CareerTech hosts virtual job fair

Technology center students planning for life after graduation and businesses looking for new employees will be able to meet virtually, thanks to Oklahoma CareerTech’s virtual job fair.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 7. Its purpose is to unite thousands of graduating students with hundreds of employers to launch careers to power Oklahoma’s economy.

“Connecting students with industry is part of what makes Oklahoma CareerTech such a powerful system in Oklahoma. It is vital that we continue to strive diligently to make those connections to help students achieve success and to provide businesses with the workforces they need to compete globally,” said Dr. Marcie Mack, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education state director.

Oklahoma’s 29 technology centers have traditionally hosted local job fairs to meet the needs of their graduating students, but the global pandemic introduced complications.

“The solution required outside the box thinking and collaboration of CareerTech professionals throughout the state to provide a first of its kind opportunity,” said A.J. Crowell, career development specialist at Oklahoma CareerTech. “The pandemic provided a surprise opportunity to unify as a CareerTech System and plan a bold new approach to connecting students and industry on a statewide scale.”

Employers and students can meet in group or one-on-one settings during the virtual job fair. Students will be able to upload resumes and portfolios to show prospective employers.

More than 20 of Oklahoma CareerTech’s technology centers and dozens of school districts from across Oklahoma have recruited local businesses to participate in the event, Crowell said. In addition, several state agencies and partner organizations have signed up to meet with CareerTech graduates.

The virtual job fair will allow businesses to connect with students from all over the state and allow students to explore more opportunities as well.

Registration is required for the virtual job fair for both students and businesses. More information for both is available on the CareerTech website at http://okcareer.tech/jobfair.

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 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.

Partnership provides jobs and homes for underprivileged Oklahomans

A newly formed collaboration among Oklahoma CareerTech and several state and local organizations means help is on the way once again for some of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable residents.  

ROAD Tools Trailer

Low-income homeowners in Oklahoma have been disproportionately affected by extreme weather events over the past few years. Since 2000, severe weather that caused significant property damage has resulted in 37 presidential emergency declarations. Many of the affected homeowners cannot afford to make the repairs needed to make their homes habitable and safe.

A nonprofit organization called Recovering Oklahomans After Disaster Inc. provides free home repairs to disaster survivors who cannot recover on their own. ROAD provides project management to oversee volunteers who make needed repairs. With the COVID-19 pandemic, those volunteer groups are unavailable. In 2020, ROAD looked outside the box to develop a different kind of volunteer labor.

Under its new Vocational Training Apprenticeship Program, ROAD collaborated with Green Country Workforce, Oklahoma CareerTech and the Galt Foundation, a nonprofit employment company, to create an innovative pilot home repair program. This collaboration facilitates much-needed home repairs for struggling homeowners and also provides training and job experience for individuals who have barriers to employment.

“We knew we couldn’t wait for the pandemic to end before we helped those who needed home repairs. This program brings a new kind of labor into disaster work, with great outcomes for all those involved,” said Chad Detwiler, president and CEO of ROAD.

For the pilot program, Green Country Workforce (formerly Workforce Tulsa) recruited six individuals from a pool of participants in its program. The Galt Foundation served as the employer of record for the paid apprenticeships, providing general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

Matt Litterell, director of business and industry services at Tulsa Technology Center, one of Oklahoma CareerTech’s 29 tech center districts, said the school provided classroom space as well as competency certification in each of the construction disciplines included in ROAD’s apprenticeship training.

“We provided OSHA 10 and forklift training,” Litterell said. “ROAD provided additional classroom instruction, including basic tools use and safety.”

After two weeks of classroom training, participants began on-the-job training, repairing the homes of disaster survivors. They learned roofing, drywall, insulation, flooring, siding, trim, painting and fixture installation.

“This program is a win-win for all partners involved, while providing a skilled workforce for employers,” said Oklahoma CareerTech Director Marcie Mack.

Career Tech’s Skills Centers instructors spent several days outfitting one of ROAD’s new tool trailers with shelving to keep the tools secure and organized en route to the project sites. The CareerTech printing plant created a wrap for the trailer.

Wesley Mitchell of Green Country Workforce said the pilot has been a resounding success, and the program was designed to be replicated statewide.

“We’re looking to expand the program,” he said. “Expansion to the Northeast Workforce Board is under development.”

Detwiler added, “The program design will lend itself to working with other agencies, and we are excited to see where it will lead.”

Oklahoma’s first statewide Making Schools Work virtual conference planned

Registration is open for Oklahoma’s first statewide Making Schools Work virtual conference March 30-31.

Oklahoma CareerTech and the Southern Regional Education Board will host the two-day event, which will showcase best practices and strategies being implemented by high schools and technology centers across the state.

Sessions will focus on leadership for continuous improvement, aligned curriculum, engaging instruction, career pathways and systems of support. High Schools and Tech Centers That Work State Coordinator Twila Green said the sessions are open to anyone looking to enhance their teaching strategies and enlarge their professional circle.

“We look forward to sharing strategies, struggles and successes during two days of learning, collaborating and networking,” Green said.

Many of the state conference presenters have spoken at the national SREB conference. Joe Hendershott, author of three books on the effects of trauma on learning and behaviors and working with wounded students, will share his research and practical experiences as a teacher and administrator. Hendershott founded Hope 4 the Wounded.

The conference is open to any employee of any educational entity. For more information or to register for the free conference, go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfzJq2XDQJvmMAhHoFF6gOK7ZtMBeGEkTHBSm2ePFeoK4y6YA/viewform.

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 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.

About SREB

A nonprofit, nonpartisan interstate compact, SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislators who recognized the link between education and economic vitality. SREB states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Oklahoma CareerTech Students, Instructor Win NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing

Nine Oklahoma CareerTech students and one instructor have received the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing.

Olga Caulfield, pre-engineering instructor at Moore Norman Technology Center received the Educator Award.

High School Award winners were Emily Dangott, Central Technology Center, Kiefer; Camryn Grabeal, Caddo Kiowa Technology Center, Apache; Madelyn McDonald and Lauren Smith, both Moore Norman Technology Center and both of Moore; Sage Abbot, Moore Norman Technology Center; and Skyler Wright, Southern Technology Center, Ardmore.

Kaylin Charlton, Moore Norman Technology Center, Moore, was an honorable mention recipient for the High School Award.

High School Awards rising stars were Moore Norman Technology Center students Olivia Braley, Norman, and Hannah Sanders and Hana Tafolla, both of Moore.

Award recipients were selected from more than 4,200 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 post-secondary education.

“Encouraging young women’s 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 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.

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.

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