Category Archives: K-12 Education

Oklahoma CareerTech Continues Growth

The Oklahoma CareerTech System continues to grow as it offers educational programs to Oklahomans of all ages.

The 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.

“We strive every day to provide students with skills demanded by the labor market in Oklahoma,” said CareerTech State Director Brent Haken. “Bringing innovation to Oklahoma education is core to Oklahoma CareerTech’s mission to help students explore their interests and businesses meet their workforce needs.”

In Oklahoma, enrollment in CareerTech programs is up across the board, and memberships in CareerTech student organizations such as FFA and HOSA rose 20% in FY 2022 to 95,390 members. The increase in enrollments and CTSO memberships, Haken said, reflect a growing realization of the value of a CareerTech education and the need for curricula that emphasize career readiness.

“CareerTech programs and student organizations are designed to simultaneously provide students skills demanded in the labor market while preparing them for postsecondary degrees,” Haken said. “In addition to specific career-oriented classes, students are offered opportunities that include internships, apprenticeships and in-school programs aimed at fostering work readiness.”

Oklahoma CareerTech achievements in the past year include being named a CyberPatriot Center of Excellence by the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program in May. Participation in the Oklahoma CyberPatriot program has more than doubled under CareerTech’s leadership.

CareerTech began a partnership with Express Employment Professionals and the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development to create more work-based learning opportunities for students. Students in the program are employed by Express and serve as contract employees for worksite employers, reducing liability for employers and opening more opportunities for students.

CareerTech also launched Get Skilled Now, an online platform that allows students and employers to find each other for work-based learning opportunities.

Also in the past year, Oklahoma CareerTech received $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to expand programs to address the state’s nursing workforce shortage, $5 million to create a program to train broadband infrastructure installation workers and $6.2 million to expand its truck driver training program. CareerTech awarded $4.5 million to schools, technology centers and educators in lottery grants and scholarships.

CareerTech serves 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. Enrollment in CareerTech courses in PK-12 schools totaled 127,875 in FY 2022, with 83,580 students in ninth through 12th grades enrolled in CareerTech classes.

In FY 2022, more than 95,000 students participated in CareerTech’s seven co-curricular CTSOs: Business Professionals of America, DECA, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA and Technology Student Association.

More than 8,900 people enrolled in adult education and family literacy classes offered by 32 providers around Oklahoma; the courses help adults become literate, earn their high school equivalencies and obtain the skills necessary for employment.

The Skills Centers School System enrolled 1,045 adult and juvenile offenders in FY 2022, and more than 95% of those who completed training found jobs with an average hourly wage of $14.64.

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 OkAPEX Accelerators. The TIP program helped companies locate in Oklahoma and provided training for 2,941 new jobs, and OkAPEX helped state companies secure 1,775 federal, state, local and tribal government contracts valued at $392,442,455.

Ninth CareerTech State Director Begins Official Duties

Oklahoma CareerTech State Director Brent Haken began official duties today.

Haken was named to the position in November by the Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education. He is the ninth director in ODCTE’s history.

“I am honored to begin serving the state of Oklahoma in meeting the educational, training and workforce development needs of our state,” Haken said. “Oklahoma has the nation’s premier system for career and technical education due to a foundation laid by passionate and dedicated Oklahomans. As an educator and a product of the Oklahoma CareerTech System, I understand the opportunity we have in unlocking the state’s potential for meeting the workforce needs of Oklahoma businesses and providing pathways to rewarding careers for Oklahoma students. Empowering people through education moves Oklahoma forward.”

Lee Denney, who has been serving as the CareerTech interim state director since February 2022, will remain at Oklahoma CareerTech as interim chief of staff.

“Brent Haken is a leader with vision and innovative ideas,” Denney said. “He will be able to lead Oklahoma CareerTech forward as we continue to provide skilled workers for Oklahoma industries.”

Haken comes to Oklahoma CareerTech from Morrison Public Schools, where he served as superintendent since 2019.

He began his educational career teaching agricultural education in Wellston and Stillwater before moving to Morrison, where he became elementary assistant principal and special education director in July 2015 and high school principal in July 2016. He also served as testing coordinator.

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 Agricultural Educators and the Association of Career Technical Educators and served on the board and as vice president of the Oklahoma Agricultural Education Teachers Association.

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.

CareerTech Conversations Focuses on FFA

CareerTech Conversations recently sat down with Scott Nemecek, state program administrator for FFA and agricultural education, who shared Oklahoma students’ recent accolades from the national FFA convention.

He also discussed the impact of agriculture on Oklahoma’s economy and how ag educators are preparing students for success in industry and daily life.

See the video on Oklahoma CareerTech’s YouTube channel and learn more about agricultural education on the Oklahoma CareerTech website.

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.

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.

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
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