Category Archives: Career and Technology Education

CareerTech Foundation Awards $81,634 in Scholarships

The Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation recently awarded more than $80,000 in scholarships to 225 postsecondary students in Oklahoma.

The foundation distributed $81,634 in Otha Grimes and Francis Tuttle Memorial scholarships to students attending Oklahoma CareerTech technology centers. The Otha Grimes scholarships ranged from $250 to $500 per student. Two of the 225 students also received a Francis Tuttle Memorial Scholarship up to $1,000.

Oklahoma CareerTech and the CareerTech Foundation are proud to be able to support students continuing their education and preparing for their careers in our technology centers around the state,” said Lee Denney, Oklahoma CareerTech interim state director.

The scholarships are used for school expenses and may be released to the student after their balances have been paid for the semester. Otha Grimes scholarships are awarded twice a year, and the Francis Tuttle Memorial Scholarship is awarded each fall.

The scholarships are available to adult students who are Oklahoma residents enrolled in programs at Oklahoma CareerTech technology centers.

Otha Grimes owned Ogeechee Farms in Fairland and was considered a pioneer in the performance testing movement that has become the standard management practice for beef cattle producers. He served on the Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation board of directors and was a staunch supporter of education, providing scholarships to many educational institutions, including the foundation. He was inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 1990.

Francis Tuttle served as director of Oklahoma CareerTech for almost two decades and pioneered the way for career and technology education nationwide. Before coming to CareerTech, he was an agricultural education teacher and superintendent in Gotebo, Muskogee and Holdenville.

After he retired from ODCTE, he served as director of the Oklahoma Department of Economic Development and state secretary of commerce. He was also inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 1990.

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 60 campuses, 391 PK-12 school districts, 15 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy 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 FFA Students Win at National Convention

Oklahoma FFA returned from the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis with one national officer, nine national championships and numerous other awards.

The National FFA Convention celebrates FFA members from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The convention includes individual award and degree recognition, chapter award recognition, official delegate business and national officer elections.

Karstyn Cantrell, Skiatook, became Oklahoma FFA’s 23rd national officer when she was elected the Central Region vice president.

National champion honors went to Caleb Horne, Morrison, Prepared Public Speaking Leadership Development Event; Tuttle FFA, Livestock Judging Career Development Event; Luke Gallagher, Altus, Beef Production – Entrepreneurship National Proficiency Award; Raigan McKee, Oologah, Agriscience Research – Animal Systems National Proficiency Award; Esther Van-Overbeke, Stillwater, National Agriscience Fair Division 1: Food Products and Processing Systems; Trinity Blosch and Aubie McEndoo, Stillwater, National Agriscience Fair Division 4: Food Products and Processing Systems; Kaylee McAlister, Stillwater, National Agriscience Fair Division 3: Power, Structural and Technical Systems; Lauren Crosthwait, Stillwater, National Agriscience Fair Division 1: Social Science; and Emily Meridith and Emma Nelson, National Agriscience Fair Division 6: Social Science.

Oklahoma FFA also brought home eight other gold emblem awards: four second place, one third place, one sixth place, one seventh place and one eighth place. Seven Oklahomans were in the national chorus, eight were in the band, 189 received the American FFA Degree and 36 Oklahoma chapters were named National Three Star Chapters.

“We are incredibly proud of our FFA members and all they have accomplished on the national level. All of the success nationally tells me a lot of teaching and learning is happening in our agricultural education classrooms all around the state. It’s a ground effort and a true testament to our excellent instructors, awesome students and committed stakeholders,” said Trevor Lucas, state FFA executive secretary.

Recipients of the Honorary American FFA Degree were Holly Carroll, Oklahoma City; Daryl Flanders, Okemah; Amanda Jones, Ketchum; Jeremy Schmidt, Edmond; and Kourtney Victery and Joe Victery, both of Chickasha.

Oklahoma FFA ranks sixth in total membership and had 14 national delegates.

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

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 60 campuses, 391 PK-12 school districts, 15 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy 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.

Brent Haken Named Oklahoma CareerTech State Director

The Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education has selected Brent Haken as the ninth state director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

Haken will begin his official duties as state director in January. He comes to Oklahoma CareerTech from Morrison Public Schools, where he has served as superintendent since 2019.

“Oklahoma has the nation’s premier system for career and technology education because of the foundation laid by passionate and dedicated Oklahomans and the continued efforts of our state’s best team members,” Haken said. “My desire has always been to be in a position that helps people make a positive impact on their family, community and state. Empowering people through education moves Oklahoma forward!

“I could not be more excited to serve as part of the Oklahoma CareerTech team. Our role of serving the state with innovative workforce development that meets the needs of our communities proves to be more essential now than ever before. Many of my greatest experiences have been as a CareerTech student and teacher. I am honored to be in a position to give back to our state by working with all arms of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, unifying our efforts to better the lives of Oklahomans.”

Haken became elementary assistant principal and special education director in Morrison Public Schools in July 2015 and high school principal in July 2016. He also served as testing coordinator. Before moving to Morrison, he taught agricultural education in Wellston and Stillwater.

“Mr. Haken brings both classroom and administrative experience to the director position,” said Lee Denney, who has been serving as Oklahoma CareerTech’s interim state director. “As a former agricultural education instructor, school principal and superintendent, his familiarity with Oklahoma’s vocational education system will definitely be an asset in his new leadership role. We are confident he will hit the ground running as CareerTech’s ninth state director.”

Haken received the 2022 Superintendents Chairman’s Award from the Oklahoma Youth Expo and was the Oklahoma Association of Superintendents District 4 Superintendent of the Year for 2022. He is a member of the Oklahoma State Professional Education Council and the Cooperative Council for Secondary Administrators.

He has been a member of the Oklahoma Career Technology Master Teacher Committee, the National Association of Agriculture Educators and the Association of Career Technical Educators and served on the board and as vice president of the Oklahoma Agriculture Education Teachers Association.

“Brent Haken will be a strong advocate for CareerTech students and Oklahoma career and technology education,” said Joy Hofmeister, state superintendent of public instruction and chairperson of the Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education. “His experience in educational leadership and administration will serve Oklahoma CareerTech students, faculty and staff well as he leads the CareerTech System into a bright new era.”

Haken earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Central Oklahoma and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Oklahoma State University.

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 60 campuses, 391 PK-12 school districts, 15 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy 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 Enrollment Increases

Oklahoma CareerTech’s enrollment in fiscal year 2022 rose to 446,940 students — from 426,125 in FY 2021 — and was up in each of the state agency’s delivery arms.

Positive placement in FY 2022 was 91%, which means that almost all CareerTech graduates found employment, entered the military or continued their education.

“In addition to enrollment increases across the board, membership in CareerTech student organizations rose significantly in fiscal 2022,” said CareerTech Interim State Director Lee Denney. “The uptick in enrollment reflects a growing realization of the value of a CareerTech education and the need for curriculums that emphasize career readiness.”

CareerTech serves the nearly half a million students through a network of 391 school districts, 29 technology centers, 15 skills centers and 32 adult education and family literacy providers. CareerTech also serves Oklahomans through its business and industry programs.

Enrollment in the 29 technology center districts was 298,675 in FY 2022, up from 295,193 in FY 2021.

Enrollment in CareerTech courses in PK-12 schools totaled 127,875 in FY 2022, up from 121,735 in FY 2021. That number equals 31% of students in fifth through 12th grades. In ninth through 12th grades, 42% of students — 83,580 — were enrolled in CareerTech classes in FY 2022.

Participation in CareerTech student organizations rose 20% during FY 2022, to 95,390 from 79,356 in FY 2021. CareerTech has seven co-curricular CTSOs: Business Professionals of America, 5,686 members in FY 2022; DECA, 1,520; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, 14,752; FFA, 27,892; HOSA, 6,434; SkillsUSA, 14,214; and Technology Student Association, 24,892.

Enrollment in adult education and family literacy grew from 8,304 in FY 2021 to 8,925 in FY 2022. Oklahoma CareerTech assumed responsibility for adult education and family literacy in 2014. The 32 providers around Oklahoma help adults become literate, earn their high school equivalencies and obtain the skills necessary for employment.

Enrollment in the Skills Centers School System grew from 893 in FY 2021 to 1,045 in FY 2022, and more than 95% of those who completed training found jobs with an average hourly wage of $14.64.

CareerTech’s skills centers specialize in the delivery of career and technology education to inmates under the supervision of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and to juveniles under the supervision of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs.

“Offenders who find employment are less likely to return to crime,” Denney said.

In addition to teaching individuals through technology centers, skills centers, PK-12 schools and adult education and family literacy programs, Oklahoma CareerTech also provides customized training and other services to companies in the state to help them increase profitability.

In FY 2022, CareerTech served 6,671 companies through entrepreneurial development, firefighter training, customized industry, safety training, adult and career development, training for industry and the Oklahoma Procurement Technical Assistance Center. The TIP program helped companies locate in Oklahoma and provided training for 2,941 new jobs, and OkPTAC helped state companies secure 1,775 federal, state, local and tribal government contracts valued at $392,442,455.

American Airlines Needs You in Oklahoma

Here in Oklahoma, the aerospace industry is one of the largest and fastest growing. When you look in the sky, you will likely see an airplane carrying hundreds of people. Some of those planes may belong to American Airlines. You could one day work on those American Airlines planes right here in Oklahoma!

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.

Oklahoma Celebrates Careers in Energy Week

Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week is October 17-21

The third annual Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week is scheduled for Oct. 17-21. Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium is celebrating the week by promoting the benefits of pursuing careers in the industry. Energy is the highest-paying industry in the state, with an average salary of more than $109,000 annually and employing more than 84,000 Oklahomans in 2021. Oklahoma ranks fourth in the U.S. for wind energy employment, third for installed wind power capacity, sixth for solar potential and third in natural gas production and is home to the world’s largest oil storage facility.

closing the talent gap in oklahomas energy industry

“Oklahoma’s all-of-the-above energy strategy makes us a national leader in oil, natural gas and wind production, which leads to a wide range of career opportunities for Oklahomans who are preparing to enter the job market,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “During Careers in Energy Week, we celebrate those who work behind the scenes in Oklahoma’s energy industry and recognize all they do to keep our lights on, our homes comfortable, our cars running and our economy growing.”

OEWC first united in 2019 to help address upcoming nationwide shortages predicted for the energy industry by 2025.

“There are so many opportunities to work and serve our state through different energy services including utilities, renewable energy, oil and gas and more. We want to always be able to introduce our students to these opportunities in our community, and this collaboration is a great way to spur these conversations,” said Lee Denney, interim state director of Oklahoma CareerTech. “The partnership between the energy industry and CareerTech helps us provide meaningful and tailored energy education programs to more Oklahomans, increasing their chances of securing a rewarding career and improving their earning potential.”

In addition to industry leaders, the consortium includes leaders from Oklahoma CareerTech, K-12 education, higher education and government and is focused on creating a pipeline of talented, diverse individuals to meet future needs within the state’s energy sector.

Getting young Oklahomans excited about careers in energy is a top priority of the consortium, as developing future engineers, technicians, chemists, construction managers and many other important positions are key to sustaining the industry’s momentum.

“In Oklahoma, the energy industry plays a critical role in everyday life, and we want all Oklahomans, particularly young people, to understand the incredible career opportunities in the industry,” said Sean Trauschke, chairman, president and CEO of OGE Energy Corp. “The partnership between the industry, educators and government is vital to inspiring our future workforce to power the state through a wide variety of energy-related occupations.”

“The energy industry is always evolving, and there’s a continual need for innovative skill sets, which is what makes our partnership with the state so important,” said PSO President and Chief Operating Officer Leigh Anne Strahler. “We rely on highly skilled workers to serve our customers and power a brighter future for all Oklahomans. From lineworkers, power plant operators and electricians to engineers, accountants and analysts – there’s a place for everyone in the energy industry.”

The OEWC cites the impending workforce shortage as a major driver for its formation. STEM curriculum plays a pivotal role in energy occupations, and many schools are implementing more programs as a pipeline for similar jobs. STEM education opens doors to many different industries and provides tools and skills for future generations to apply to occupations like energy.

“At the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, we strive to connect industry and education across the state to secure and embrace the skill needs of our future workforce,” said Don Morris, executive director of the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development. “Fostering these collaborations across industries provides more opportunities for meaningful occupations for more Oklahomans. This also helps Oklahoma retain talent and passion to drive success today and tomorrow in the energy sector.”

For more information about careers in energy and the Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium, visit oklahoma.getintoenergy.com.

About Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium

Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium is a partnership among Oklahoma energy companies and organizations with a mission to raise awareness about the energy industry and career pathways available to Oklahoma students. The consortium represents energy industry, education, government and community leaders united to build a talent pipeline for Oklahoma’s energy sector. The full list of consortium members can be viewed at oklahoma.getintoenergy.com.

CareerTech Champions

Donna Spiva-Doggett – Meridian Technology Center

In the 1980s, Donna Spiva-Doggett said she wasn’t cut out for college. She had no job skills and no real plans for her future. Flash ahead about 36 years, and that undecided graduate from Perkins-Tryon High School is now senior manager of fiscal operations for the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University.

The path was a bit unconventional, but it got her there. The high school junior thought she might like an office job, so she enrolled in the office procedures program at what was then known as Indian Meridian Vo-Tech (now called Meridian Technology Center). She also joined FBLA, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with business marketing and information technology education. (That organization is now called BPA.)

At Meridian Tech, Spiva-Doggett became proficient in typing and other basic office skills that were considered necessary.

“These skills changed the trajectory of my life,” she said.

She graduated from Meridian Tech in 1988 and got the office job she wanted. She worked at OSU as a senior clerk typist for $800 a month, and although that wasn’t enough money to change her trajectory, it was about more than just the salary.

“By working with and among such educated, accomplished people,” she said, “I began to want some of that success for myself.”

After working at OSU for 10 years, she decided to try college from a student’s perspective. In 2004, Spiva-Doggett received her Bachelor of Science in finance.

“If I hadn’t gotten my foot in the door with that clerk typist job in 1989,” she said, “I don’t know where I would be now. What began as a job is now a very gratifying career with both financial and personal rewards.”

In 2022, Spiva-Doggett set up The Don Spiva Scholarship Fund in honor of her father, who died in 2000 at the age of 55. The scholarship is designed for Meridian Tech students who need assistance with uniforms, books, required supplies, tools, equipment or certification fees. Selection is based on financial need as well as ability to successfully complete the program and enter the workforce. 

CareerTech Champions

Montgomery Malone – Western Technology Center

CareerTech helped newspaper editor outline his career plans

After high school, Montgomery Malone had no interest in college and no plans for a career. He decided to enroll at Western Technology Center for additional training and took an interest inventory to help him choose a program. The results suggested he might be good at photo editing and media development.

Malone loved to write, and the two skillsets seemed to mesh with each other. He enrolled in WTC’s multimedia program, where he learned how to use programs such as InDesign and Photoshop. He also improved his communication skills. By the time he completed the program, he was a certified digital video technician and multimedia specialist.

Malone took his new career skills to the Weatherford Daily News, where he said he uses his multimedia and communication skills daily. He is currently city editor for the newspaper.

“What I experienced during my training at WTC and my love for writing all came together for this position,” he said.

His favorite part of his job at the Daily News is that he has the freedom to be creative.

“And people listen to my ideas,” he said.

At last week’s Oklahoma Press Association awards banquet in Oklahoma City, Malone won first place for an in-depth enterprise story. 

Legislature Approves $11.2 Million to Expand CareerTech Programs

The Oklahoma Legislature recently appropriated $11.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to establish and expand vital Oklahoma CareerTech workforce development programs.

The Legislature appropriated $5 million to CareerTech to create a program to train broadband infrastructure installation workers. The program will help create a workforce to expand broadband connectivity in underserved areas.

“There is a need for broadband installation in Oklahoma,” said Lee Denney, Oklahoma CareerTech interim director. “Creating this program shows CareerTech’s ability to be agile with industry as needs arise. We work with industry to create the workforce to fill Oklahoma’s needs.”

About 15 technology centers have expressed interest in becoming broadband training sites, she said. The ARPA money will be used for equipment to train students to lay fiber underground, to hang it on poles and to build towers for the last mile connections.

Oklahoma CareerTech will train workers in installation, maintenance and customer service, Denney said.

CareerTech also received $6.2 million to expand its truck driver training program. Oklahoma CareerTech already offers truck driver training through Central Technology Center and other tech centers that have partnered with Central Tech. The $6.2 million will be used to create regional programs that will supplement the statewide program, Denney said.

“We’ve been asked to expand because the statewide program has a six-month waiting list,” she explained.

The regional programs — at Kiamichi, Northeast, Tulsa and Caddo Kiowa tech centers — will allow students to stay closer to home when they undergo training.

The money will be used to build classrooms, expand driving ranges and buy trucks and simulators, Denney said.

Denney said the need is great for both broadband expansion and truck drivers in Oklahoma.

“These funds will allow Oklahoma CareerTech to continue to help Oklahomans learn the skills they need while also continuing to contribute to the state’s economic development,” she said.

The bill has been sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt for his signature.

CareerTech Champions

Joseph Gordon – Moore Norman Technology Center

A love of computers runs in Joseph Gordon’s family. His father works in information technology, and Gordon took his first programming class in middle school. He was intrigued by how computers worked, but he wasn’t really enthralled with programming. A few years later, he toured Moore Norman Technology Center and was intrigued by the network and cloud administration course.

The 16-year-old high school junior enrolled at Moore Norman Tech and was already A+ certified early in his first semester. When school let out for the summer, he accepted an unpaid internship with Norman Public Schools to repair MacBooks. He continued the internship after school started, working for NPS early in the morning, driving to Moore Norman Technology Center for class, working his after-school job at Schlotzsky’s and then going home to study.

But that’s not all. While interning at NPS, he completed his CompTia Net+ certification. He learned a lot as an unpaid intern, but he told his instructor, Todd Hendrickson, “I’d like to make some money.”

Hendrickson agreed it was time for Gordon to start getting compensated for his talents. He helped Gordon get a job with the Addison Group, running cable and providing an Ethernet network for T-Mobile during his senior year of high school. Gordon started at $15 an hour, but after he updated his resume to include his latest certification, his salary was bumped to $17 an hour.

In March 2022, two months before Gordon’s high school graduation, Dell approached him about a VxRail network support team they were putting together. VxRail is an appliance that provides networking, computing and management capabilities. Hendrickson helped Gordon prepare for an interview, and the high school senior was offered one of the 14 open positions. Gordon will work from home and earn a starting salary of $69,000 a year, plus benefits.

“The young man is ecstatic, and his future is set,” Hendrickson said, “and he hasn’t even graduated high school yet!”

As a technical support engineer, Gordon will troubleshoot customer issues with Dell’s VxRail, but he will also use his skills for personal projects, including cabling his house.

“I’m setting up a personal website to document my journey,” he said, “so that anyone who goes through the same journey has a potential guide.”

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