Category Archives: K-12 Education

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.

Thousands attend FCCLA State Convention in person and virtually

More than 2,000 Oklahoma Family, Career and Community Leaders of America attended the 75th annual FCCLA State Convention in person, and thousands more participated virtually.

Oklahoma FCCLA held the event April 1 in the new Oklahoma City Convention Center. Oklahoma FCCLA was the first student organization to hold an event at the new facilities.

Many chapters attending virtually held watch parties. Students heard from outstanding keynote speakers and presenters, including opening session keynote speaker Kyle Scheele. Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and Oklahoma CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack gave greetings during the sessions.

Competitors were recognized for their state competitions and first through third place competitors were recognized; National Leadership Conference qualifiers were also notified of their achievements. Chapters were recognized for membership awards including Star Chapters and the largest FCCLA chapter in the state (Midwest City High School).

FCCLA members elected the 2021-22 State Executive Council at the conclusion of the day.

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.

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.

CareerTech Champions

Jessica Garvin – FCCLA and Red River Technology Center

Nursing home administrator gives back to her community through FCCLA

THEN: She wasn’t planning a career, she just wanted sewing skills. Jessica Garvin said she learned to sew at Marlow High School, but the family and consumer sciences education program taught her much, much more.

Garvin joined Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with family and consumer sciences. Participation in FCCLA’s job interview competitions helped Garvin

  • Speak more eloquently in public.
  • Gain leadership and management skills.
  • Become better organized.
  • Interview new employees in her job as chief operations officer at a nursing home.

She said she also met incredible, lifelong friends in FCCLA, including fellow officers, advisers and classmates.

FACSED was Garvin’s only CareerTech experience in high school, but years later she said she wishes she had enrolled in a technology center program while she was there.

“I realize now what types of opportunities I missed by not taking advantage of CareerTech education in school!” she said.

Garvin did take advantage of CareerTech’s offerings after high school, attending Red River Technology Center in Duncan to get her medication administration technician certification, part of her journey toward her long-term administrator’s licenses.

She doesn’t make her living sewing, but Garvin’s involvement with FCCLA continues today. She helps students prepare for competitive events, and she mentors them through high school.

“Giving back to my community has improved my quality of life by providing opportunities for me to pay it forward,” she said.

NOW: A University of Oklahoma graduate, Garvin is COO at Gregston’s Nursing and Rehab in Marlow, Oklahoma. As an employer, she said, she understands the value of a CareerTech background.

“We utilize CareerTech graduates every day,” she said. “So many of them are wonderful, hardworking professionals with a strong work ethic and a desire to improve the lives of the people they serve.”

“I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today without FCCLA.”
Jessica Garvin
Nursing home COO

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.

School counselors gather virtually for annual conference

Oklahoma school counselors will gather virtually March 9-10 to connect with each other and develop their knowledge and skills during the 17th annual For Counselors Only Conference.

More than 600 counselors from technology centers and prekindergarten-12th grade schools are expected to attend the free virtual conference, which is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

The conference will have 45 breakout sessions and an opening and closing speaker. It will include live sessions during the two days, along with prerecorded and on-demand sessions available for participants to view at any time.

Although the conference is called For Counselors Only, it will host a variety of educators, including teachers, counselors, administrators, disabilities specialists, college and career readiness coordinators, mental health providers, instructional coaches and more, said Shawna Nord, academic coordinator in the ODCTE Counseling and Career Development Division.

It will include sessions on OK Career Guide, individual career academic plans, academic updates, interventions, mental health care, crisis preparedness and response, e-transcripts, financial literacy and advanced placement.

“For 17 years our conference has provided counselors the opportunity to connect and network with the Oklahoma school counseling communities. They take this day to focus on effective programs, professional advocacy and the tools they need to provide results showing the impact of school counseling programs,” Nord said.

Rhett Laubach, owner of YourNextSpeaker, will deliver the keynote address. He will focus on tools to help attendees rediscover energy, motivation and the reason why they do what they do, he said.

For more information or to register, visit https://whova.com/web/couns_202102/.

February is Career and Technical Education Appreciation Month

During a year of pandemic changes, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education kept its focus on helping Oklahomans succeed while adding new programs in response to new needs.

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 continues to deliver high quality education despite the pandemic. We remain laser-focused on the multiple career paths for students and meeting the workforce needs of businesses and industries in the state,” said ODCTE State Director Marcie Mack. “The work of Oklahoma CareerTech across the state provides meaningful results for Oklahoma’s economy.”

Oklahoma CareerTech expanded its programs in response to the pandemic as it continued its focus on filling skills gaps for both employees and employers in the state.

ODCTE worked with partners to launch several new educational initiatives in 2020, including a new energy career cluster to promote the benefits of pursuing careers in energy; online meat processing courses to fill a workforce shortage in the meat processing industry; and a mobile meat processing laboratory.

ODCTE worked with the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing to revamp a nurse refresher course to get nurses back in the field faster. In addition, technology center nursing students across the state assisted with COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics.

The CareerTech Testing Center worked with the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association to offer certification exams for veterinary assistants and with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to use the Oklahoma Peace Officer Screening and Selection Exam developed by CTTC for OHP Academy applicants.

Oklahoma CareerTech also launched VirtualJobShadow.com to introduce more state students — more than 16,000 in 20 PK-12 and technology center districts — to nontraditional careers. The platform is ideal for schools and students doing virtual and distance learning because it is video-based.

When Oklahoma’s schools pivoted to distance learning in the spring of 2020, instructors in the 29 technology center districts and the 399 PK-12 school districts with CareerTech courses developed ways to help their students continue learning to finish the year. ODCTE offered additional instructional resources and guidance to tech centers and schools to help them with distance learning.

CareerTech students and teachers across the state also donated medical supplies, masks and more to help frontline pandemic workers.

Employees in CareerTech’s 13 skills centers, which operate in Oklahoma’s correctional and juvenile detention facilities, developed new processes that will better serve graduates; reduce barriers to reintegration; and improve communication, teamwork and probability of graduate success.

During a year of pivots caused by the pandemic, Oklahoma CareerTech was able to stay true to its mission of preparing Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education and in life and expand its offerings to meet new needs in new ways.

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 by the Numbers in Fiscal Year 2020

  • 399 PK-12 school districts with 1,399 teachers and 132,532 enrollments
  • 29 technology center districts with 58 campuses, 1,306 teachers and 310,285 enrollments
  • 37 percent of sixth through 12th grade and almost half of ninth through 12th grade students enrolled in CareerTech courses: 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.
  • More than 86,000 students in co-curricular CareerTech student organizations: FFA; Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America; SkillsUSA; Technology Student Association; Business Professionals of America; HOSA; and DECA
  • 18,685 industry-endorsed certificates earned
  • 13 skills centers with 35 teachers and 1,541 enrollments
  • 32 adult basic education providers at 111 sites serving 10,768 students
  • 297 students earning high school diplomas in dropout recovery program
  • 7,295 industries served by business and industry training
  • 1,767 new jobs with training from ODCTE Business and Industry Services Division
  • $390 million secured by state companies in government contracts with help from Oklahoma Procurement Technical Assistance Center

CareerTech Champions

Nathan Dial – Pontotoc Technology Center

Dragster races to the front of the classroom.

Then: His dad taught him self-reliance and independence at an early age. Nathan Dial said the two of them worked on go-karts and lawnmowers before his dad started teaching him about cars. When Dial was 14 years old, he built his own dragster. After that, he was hooked.

Dial received his formal automotive training at Pontotoc Technology Center, taking classes while working at a car dealership. He said he had barely started his coursework at the tech center when he decided he wanted to teach there. He carried out that dream nearly two decades later.

A 2000 graduate of PTC, Dial continued his education at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology’s GM automotive program in Okmulgee. He was the youngest person in Oklahoma to receive the prestigious GM World Class certification.

After college, he began building his automotive shop while he taught small engine repair at Latta Schools. After 11 years in the public school classroom, Dial saw the opening he’d been waiting for – his perfect job.

He signed on as an automotive instructor at PTC about 18 years after he enrolled as a student there. He said the job is all about the opportunity to make a difference.

“I get to invest in the lives of our students in such a way that it probably changes the paths of their families for generations,” he said.

NOW: Dial’s students aren’t the only auto workers he oversees. He and his wife own Double D Automotive near Ada, Oklahoma, and manage a staff of six.

Dial said he enjoys building cars, but he enjoys building futures even more.

“I’ve had students who never even thought about going to college receive a $50,000 scholarship through our Hot Rodders program,” he said.

“I get to see their lives changed forever when they pursue fulfilling careers that happen to pay very well.”

Nathan Dial, auto instructor and shop owner

Oklahoma CareerTech uses virtual format to introduce students to career possibilities

More than 16,000 students in 20 PK-12 and technology center districts across Oklahoma are learning more about nontraditional careers in a new Oklahoma CareerTech initiative.

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education launched the VirtualJobShadow.com initiative as a way to encourage more students to investigate nontraditional careers. A nontraditional career is one in which less than 25 percent of the labor force is of one gender.

VirtualJobShadow.com is an online, video-based exploration and career planning platform designed to help students and job seekers learn more about themselves, career pathways and skills needed for independent living. It features videos showing a day in the life of men and women at employer worksites.

“This new platform empowers students to learn more about careers that suit their interests,” said Marcie Mack, Oklahoma CareerTech state director. “Through hundreds of professionally produced videos, our goal is to boost student awareness, interest and eventual employment in nontraditional careers.”

The platform turned out to be ideal for schools during the COVID-19 pandemic because it is video-based, said Steven Aragon, equity/diversity professional development specialist at ODCTE. In addition to workplaces, the videos show students in classrooms learning the skills they will need for various careers.

“There’s one with a female auto mechanics instructor teaching female students how to balance tires,” Aragon said. “We know in education — and other areas, for that matter — we need to see people who look like us. It’s one of the biggest ways to get students excited and thinking about possibilities they’ve never thought about — seeing people who look like them doing things.”

ODCTE sent recruitment letters to technology center and PK-12 school districts last summer with the hope of reaching 15,000 students in Oklahoma. Districts submitted proposals, and those approved began using VirtualJobShadow.com in September, Aragon said. To date, about 20 districts use the pilot program, with more than 16,400 student users. Tulsa Public Schools has more than 14,000 student users alone, Aragon said.

High Plains Technology Center in Woodward uses VirtualJobShadow.com in its Technical Applications Program to introduce elementary and middle school students to career and technology education.

“The students are exploring careers and being exposed to things they didn’t know. It is opening their eyes to the endless career options available,” said Danna Goss, HPTC middle school TAP instructor.

VirtualJobShadow.com also includes curriculum and tools to help instructors create lessons for their students, along with reporting tools that can help instructors, administrators and parents track students’ progress and career interests.

Assessment of the initiative, which uses money from the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, will begin in the spring, Aragon said, with data collection starting in March. ODCTE will make a decision about continuing the program based on the data, he explained.

“If it is doing what we want it to do and making a difference, we’ll keep doing it,” he said.

For more information about VirtualJobShadow.com, go to https://www.virtualjobshadow.com/ or contact Steven Aragon at steven.aragon@careertech.ok.gov or 405-743-5180. To see a video about the initiative, go to https://www.virtualjobshadow.com/partners/non-traditional-careers-overview/.

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.

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