Category Archives: K-12 Education

CareerTech Essential to Meet Workforce Needs

A qualified workforce is critical to the state’s economic well-being and will be vital to its recovery following the pandemic. Oklahoma CareerTech, which has long been a major component of Oklahoma’s economic engine, will play a starring role in this recovery.

Through a network of 399 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 13 skills center sites and 32 adult basic education providers, the strengths of Oklahoma’s CareerTech System include accessibility and flexibility.

Through partnerships with business and industry, Oklahoma CareerTech has responded quickly to the state’s immediate workforce needs by providing customized career training in a wide range of industries, including health care, agriculture, aerospace and energy.

Read more in CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack’s guest column in The Journal Record.

Oklahoma FCCLA wins awards at hybrid conference

Oklahoma FCCLA had an outstanding week during the Hybrid National Leadership Conference, said Brittani Phillips, FCCLA state adviser at Oklahoma CareerTech.

Oklahoma FCCLA had national champions in eight events; 29 students earned first place in team and individual competitions. Nine students (team and individual) placed second in six events, and six students (team and individual) placed third in five events.

Cherokee High School had teams that placed first, second and third in the Knowledge Matters Virtual Business Challenge. Caney High School received $1,000 for winning the Families First National Program and $500 for being the runner-up in the Student Body National Program.

Zeb Kelly, Morrison High School, was elected the 2021-22 national vice president of community service. Denise Morris, former FCCLA state adviser, was named a national honorary member.

The National Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, was limited to 1,000 participants, but 150 Oklahoma FCCLA members attended the Oklahoma event.

“We had a great time celebrating together and experiencing Oklahoma tourism opportunities by attending Riversport and the Oklahoma City Zoo as well as utilizing the Oklahoma City trolley system,” Phillips said.

CTSO officers attend CareerTech University

Oklahoma CareerTech student organization state officers recently attended CareerTech University at Camp Tulakogee in Wagoner, Oklahoma. Officers from all seven co-curricular CTSOs attended the conference, where they learned about goal-setting, time management, teamwork and presentation skills.

At CTU each year, officers participate in training sessions and group activities to help them lead their organizations. They also learn more about the Oklahoma CareerTech System during the event. CTU provides the student leaders an opportunity to come together and share ideas about how they can best represent the CareerTech System as a whole.

CareerTech Champions

Averee Murray – FFA

Owasso FFA president is “one to watch.”

Then: An Owasso eighth grader whose first love was soccer. Averee Murray’s horizon broadened when her sister let her tag along to the school barn to help take care of her show pigs. Murray said she knew right away she wanted to be part of the FFA experience, describing the atmosphere as “competitive, yet kind,” and the students as “well-rounded.”

She enrolled in agricultural education and became active in Owasso’s FFA chapter, where she is currently serving as chapter president. She participated in the 2020 Oklahoma FFA Officer Leadership Conference and credits FFA for helping her develop a strong work ethic, as well as teaching her

  • Time management skills.
  • The value of attention to detail.
  • How to be more proactive.

The high school senior said she integrates those skills into speechwriting, raising show pigs, interviewing for scholarships, interacting with friends and working on group projects in school, along with many other professional and personal activities.

After high school, Murray plans to major in agricultural communications at Oklahoma State University.

“I consider CareerTech as a stepping stone to my future career pathway,” she said. “It provides students a safe environment to learn about their interests, while providing an easy transition from student to professional.”

Now: Murray is one of 20 students selected to serve on the Oklahoma Agriculture Youth Council and one of only 97 Oklahoma high school students appointed to the 2021 Student Advisory Council, a group set up six years ago by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister to assist in policy matters. The Tulsa World recently named Murray as one of the 2021 Owassons to Watch.

After college, Murray would like to work in public relations for a large agricultural company or with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

“I learned that to get any further than you already are, you start saying yes to things you aren’t completely comfortable with in the moment.” Averee Murray, student

CareerTech student chosen as 2021 Presidential Scholar

An Oklahoma CareerTech student is one of two state students chosen as 2021 Presidential Scholars.

Sean Kuehn of Sand Springs is among 161 high school seniors in the 57th Presidential Scholar class who are being recognized for their accomplishments in academics, the arts and career and technical education fields.

Kuehn is a senior at Charles Page High School. He is the national president of Technology Student Association, a former state president of the Oklahoma Technology Student Association and a national champion in Prepared Speech. TSA is a CareerTech student organization affiliated with science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

Kuehn serves on Oklahoma CareerTech Director Marcie Mack’s Student Advisory Committee and Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s Student Advisory Council. Earlier this year, he was one of two Oklahoma students chosen represent the state during the 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program Washington Week.

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

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