Category Archives: K-12 Education

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 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.

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

Alyssa Ulrich – Francis Tuttle Technology Center, FCCLA and SkillsUSA

Pastry chef discovers a recipe for career success at Francis Tuttle.

THEN: An aspiring pastry chef before she was old enough to drive. When Alyssa Ulrich complained to her family that she was wasting time on homework she knew she would never use as a baker, her sister-in-law told her about Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s culinary arts program.

“As soon as I saw images of Francis Tuttle’s kitchens and heard stories of their famous Swedish baker,” she said, “I made an appointment the very next day to try to get enrolled in the coming school year.”

Ulrich participated in two CareerTech student organizations, winning state and national titles in cooking competitions sponsored by both FCCLA and SkillsUSA.

She had completed the culinary program by the time she graduated high school and followed up with a three-month internship. Despite her passion, Ulrich said, she realized after she enrolled how little she knew about cooking. In addition to receiving “a phenomenal and comprehensive” cooking education, Ulrich said, she also

  • Learned about the power of a first or single impression and to treat every introduction as if it were an interview.
  • Developed problem-solving skills that allow her to work smarter, rather than harder.
  • Gained an understanding of the importance of continuous learning.
  • Strengthened her teamwork and communication skills.
  • Received her ServSafe certification, which she said gives an applicant a higher chance of getting a job or starting at a higher pay rate.

“My teachers were tough and realistic,” she said, adding that she had a better understanding of what a kitchen would be like.

“I walked into a kitchen with realistic expectations of long, hard shifts and never settling for good instead of great,” she said. “Every job I have ever had or been offered, I can trace in some way back to my culinary school.”

Ulrich uses her cooking skills every day in her profession, but when she’s not at work she is usually baking at home or thinking of something new she can make.

NOW: A pastry chef for The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen for the past three and a half years, Ulrich will soon manage the pastry and lamination side of the new Harvey Bakery and Kitchen in Oklahoma City.

Five years after high school graduation, Ulrich said, most of her peers are either recent college grads or about to graduate.

“They are still figuring out what they want to do and are now deeply in debt. No, I didn’t go to a formal college post CareerTech, but I am further along in my career than most of my peers. I’m able to work in a career I love and not have student loan debt looming over me for the foreseeable future. I can’t imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life,” she said.

Ulrich said she would like to become a certified master baker.

“I love being challenged and pushed to be better and think differently.”

Alyssa Ulrich, pastry chef

CareerTech Champions

Evan Retherford – Central Technology Center and SkillsUSA

State champion welder graduates high school with honors – AND a job offer.

THEN: He didn’t like it when his Ripley High School friends teased him about not knowing how to do metal work. It wasn’t that Evan Retherford couldn’t weld, it was simply a lack of training.

Before he signed up for an introduction to welding class, Retherford thought he wanted to be a truck driver. But after he finished the class, which was part of his agricultural education curriculum, he realized he enjoyed welding enough to enroll in a two-year welding program at Central Technology Center.

At Central Tech, he learned to weld, but he also

  • Received numerous certifications, including OSHA 10, the Platinum level in the WorkKeys test, forklift certification, GMAW (gas metal arc welding), FCAW (flux-cored arc welding), SMAW (shielded metal arc welding), GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding), PAC (plasma arc welding), CAC (carbon arc cutting) and fire extinguisher.
  • Received the National Technical Honor Society award for having all A’s in his Central Tech classes as well as at least 97% attendance and an A/B grade point average at Ripley High.
  • Developed important leadership skills.
  • Improved his worth ethic.
  • Placed first in the state in the welding sculpture event.

Retherford was Class of 2021 valedictorian at Ripley, and he was offered a full-time welding job before he graduated in May.

“Other people go to college, spend a lot of money and may not receive a good paying job at the end of it,” he said. “I wanted to prove you can make a lot of money working a trade.” 

NOW: A welder at Ditch Witch in Perry, making $48,000 plus benefits, right out of high school. At that salary, it would appear that Retherford has proved his point.

Oklahoma Celebrates Careers in Energy Week with Virtual Career Fair

Governor Stitt declares Oct. 18 – 22 Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week

Governor Kevin Stitt issued a proclamation recognizing October 18-22, 2021 as the second annual Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week. 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 employed more than 84,000 Oklahomans in 2021, according to the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development. Leading the industry, Oklahoma ranks fourth in the U.S. for wind energy employment, third for installed wind capacity, sixth for solar potential, is the third largest producer of natural gas, and is home to the world’s largest oil storage facility.

“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,” Stitt said. “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. I know our energy sector workers will continue to help this industry grow, innovate and provide needed services and products for our state and the world.”

OEWC first united in 2019 to help address upcoming nationwide shortages predicted for the energy industry by 2025. As part of this year’s celebration, the consortium is promoting the EnergyCareers 2021 Virtual Career Event being held October 20. The online-only event is hosted by the Center for Energy Workforce Development and aims to bring awareness to the diverse job opportunities in the energy sector as well as highlight and fill open positions in the industry.

“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 Marcie Mack, state director of 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 entering a career in energy and boosting 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.

“Our public colleges and universities offer numerous degree paths to prepare graduates for employment in the energy sector,” said higher education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Increasing the number of degree-holders in STEM fields strengthens Oklahoma’s economy, and heightening awareness of those degree pathways is key to advancing educational attainment in our state’s critical occupations.”

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 sector is always changing, and there’s a continual need for new skill sets, which is what makes our partnership with education and the State so important,” said PSO President and Chief Operating Officer Peggy Simmons. “We are always looking for bright minds ready to learn and provide life-changing services to those around them. We hire qualified workers for jobs from engineers to power line technicians, from construction managers to chemists. Each one of them has the power to make a difference in their community.”   

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.” 

To register for the EnergyCareers 2021 Virtual Career Event visit getintoenergy.com and click EnergyCareers 2021 at the top of the page.

For more information about the Energy Career Cluster, Careers in Energy Week, 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 the 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 Offers Funds for Rural STEM Program Recruitment

Oklahoma CareerTech is accepting proposals from schools and technology centers serving rural populations for grant money to recruit students into STEM programs.

Oklahoma is one of five states that received a Strategies for Attracting Students to High Quality Career Technical Education grant of $20,000 from Advance CTE. The grant’s objectives are to support innovative recruitment strategies; increase awareness of and interest in high quality CTE programs; and identify and develop strategies to close access and equity gaps for families historically marginalized from participation in CTE programs.

“Oklahoma CareerTech offers students the opportunity to explore careers they can be passionate about,” said Kylie Moulton, communications and marketing coordinator at ODCTE. “This grant will help rural schools bring awareness to the diverse programs offered to students through CareerTech with funds and marketing materials that may not be available otherwise.”

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education will award $1,000 to 20 Oklahoma schools and technology centers to run a sponsored Facebook ad focused on recruiting students into science, technology, engineering and math programs such as aerospace and construction.

“Students begin making career decisions as early as elementary or middle school, and most students only know about careers that a family member or close family friend works in,” said Tonja Norwood, Oklahoma CareerTech STEM program manager. “It is critical that students are exposed to STEM hands-on curriculum that teaches a concept and immediately allows students to apply that concept.”

CareerTech STEM teachers also incorporate into their courses Technology Student Association competitive events that align to STEM careers, along with guest speakers, TSA conferences, research projects, videos and OK Career Guide, Oklahoma CareerTech’s online education and career planning system.

“CareerTech STEM students learn how STEM careers will allow them to solve problems and use their creativity and skills to improve the future,” she said.

Applicants must serve rural populations — defined as fewer than 50,000 residents. They also must offer STEM courses and have an official school or technology center Facebook page.

Grant application documents and instructions can be found at https://www.okcareertech.org/educators/cte-grant/high-quality-career-technical-education. The deadline for submission is Oct. 8.

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, 14 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.

Training offered for OK Career Guide, Kuder Galaxy

Several virtual training sessions are available in the next few months for educators interested in OK Career Guide and Kuder Galaxy.

OK Career Guide is an online tool available to all Oklahomans to explore careers and plan their futures. Participants can take assessments, identify occupations, establish education plans and connect to employers.

Kuder Galaxy is an online career awareness platform for students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. Students learn through play, videos, activities, games and rewards in the space-themed platform.

Webinars for OK Career Guide will be Sept. 28, Oct. 26 and Dec. 7. Kuder Galaxy webinars will be Aug. 24, Sept. 28, Oct. 26 and Dec. 7.

For more information or to register for a webinar, visit the CareerTech website.

CareerTech Programs Receive Aerospace Grants

The Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation and Metro Technology Centers were among 50 organizations to receive Aerospace and Aviation Education Program grants from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.

The foundation received a grant of $10,000 for the Oklahoma Education and Industry Partnerships. OEIP’s mission is to create a pipeline for partnerships among educators and industry leaders that result in meeting the workforce needs of Oklahoma companies.

More than 300 Oklahoma fifth through 12th grade science, technology, engineering and math teachers, counselors and administrators attend industry tours and educational workshops each year as part of OEIP.

“The CareerTech Foundation is thankful for OAC’s longstanding support of OEIP. The funding ensures continued connections between educators and industry, with a focus on the workforce needs in the aerospace sector,” said Gina Hubbard, manager of Oklahoma CareerTech’s Education Partnerships and Customized Services Division.

Metro Tech received $12,500 for the 2022 Aviation Career Exploration Camp for seventh and eighth grade students. The camp uses a STEM curriculum to teach students about the history of aviation and aerospace and the parts of an airplane.

Students also get to take an orientation flight to experience the principles of flight first-hand.

OAC awarded the grants at its August meeting. They are given to entities with targeted learning programs that have a direct application to aerospace and aviation for elementary through postsecondary education. The grant program has been awarding grants for more than 30 years.

More about the grant program and a full list of recipients is on the OAC website.

Oklahoma CareerTech Celebrates Educators’ Perseverance

Oklahoma CareerTech’s 54th annual conference celebrated educators’ perseverance, said State Director Marcie Mack.

The Oklahoma Summit is a partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education. It provides professional development opportunities for CareerTech educators, administrators, school board members, support staff members and business partners.

Mack thanked Oklahoma CareerTech System employees for their commitment to continuing their work to educate Oklahomans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The challenges you faced were unprecedented,” she said. “We could not have imagined the surmounting circumstances that would reconfigure our lives and that of our schools and classrooms. But your passion and dedication to educating students and meeting the companies’ needs in your community prevailed, and our system continued to progress amid these trying times.

“This event is a celebration of your perseverance in navigating the shifting landscape and reinforcing why Oklahoma CareerTech is the best in the nation.”

Oklahoma Summit celebrated several award winners, including Oklahoma CareerTech’s top two awards, the Francis Tuttle Award and the Arch Alexander Award.

Lindel Fields, who recently retired from Tri County Technology Center as superintendent, received the Francis Tuttle Award, which is named in honor of the former Oklahoma CareerTech state director and is given to someone who has made significant contributions at the state and national levels.

Jeanette Capshaw, who recently retired as deputy superintendent at Moore Norman Technology Center, received the Arch Alexander Award, named in honor of a longtime deputy state director of Oklahoma CareerTech and given to someone who has demonstrated the qualities Alexander shows in his work in the system.

Shelley Free, superintendent of Kiamichi Technology Centers, received the OkACTE Bob Funk Advocate of Excellence Award, and Daniel Tysor, Moore Norman Technology Center web design instructor, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bob Funk Jr. of Express Employment Professionals was on hand to present checks from Express to four award winners: Lisa Symsack, Tulsa Technology Center, Support Staff Member of the Year, $5,000; Lorain McKay, Moore Norman Technology Center, New Teacher of the Year, $5,000; Nancy Howell, Great Plains Technology Center, Postsecondary Teacher of the Year, $7,500; and Leslie Powell, Kiamichi Technology Centers-Durant, Teacher of the Year, $10,000.

The following also received awards during Oklahoma Summit:

  • Joyce McClellan, Tulsa Technology Center chief development and diversity officer, Administrator of the Year.
  • Misty Bible, Kiamichi Technology Centers-Idabel counselor, Counseling and Career Development Professional Award.
  • Cody McPherson, Geary Public Schools technology engineering instructor, Carl Perkins Community Service Award.
  • Lucinda Francis, Moore Norman Technology Center literacy specialist/coach, Teacher Educator of the Year.
  • Eufaula Public Schools, State Superintendent’s Award of Excellence.
  • Teresa Abram, marketing and communications coordinator, Communications and Marketing Award.
  • Brian Ruttman, R.J. Curry, Athena Frank, Chelsey Graham, Elena Morales, Donna Lindly, Mikka House-Moore, Anita Parks, Ernie Gomez, Janet Portwood, Laura Manahan and Jodie Eiland, Dennis Portis Rising Star Award sponsored by American Fidelity.
  • Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Dick Lowe, R-Amber, OkACTE Distinguished Service.
  • Jerry McConnell, Moore Norman Technology Center director of safety and security, OkACTE Distinguished Achievement.
  • Allen Schneberger, Moore Norman Technology Center academic integration coordinator, Kaleidoscope Award.
  • Lamont Harris, Metro Technology Centers; Jessie Phillips, Kiamichi Technology Centers; Benjamin Evans, Pioneer Technology Center; Christie Rogers, Southwest Technology Center; and Matt Fix and Emily Brown, Moore Norman Technology Center, OkACTE Outstanding New Professional Award.

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