Category Archives: Oklahoma CareerTech

Oklahoma CareerTech Expanding Inmate Training Opportunities

Thanks in part to a nearly $900,000 federal grant, more Oklahoma inmates are being offered a chance to learn skills that will help them rebuild their lives outside prison walls after their release. According to Oklahoma CareerTech Deputy Director Justin Lockwood, those skills will greatly reduce the chance an inmate will return to prison.

“The likelihood of an inmate being reincarcerated after release is much greater if we don’t prepare them for life on the outside,” said Lockwood. “It’s a model that works.”

The model Justin referred to is CareerTech’s Skills Centers programs, which offer inmate training at 17 sites around the state. Several of those sites have been added since CareerTech received the Department of Justice grant in December 2021, including Northeast Oklahoma Correctional Center in Vinita. CareerTech recently added three instructors at that site to teach welding; transportation, distribution and logistics; and career readiness programs.

“We’re trying to change our model of instruction to include more community correction inmates,” Lockwood said.

Community correction inmates are allowed to leave the prison to go to work sites. They continue to receive instruction once a week, so they can build their skill set while they are employed. That employment is important because it allows them to pay off fines and other expenses incurred during incarceration.

CareerTech has also added a career readiness program at J.H. Lilley Correctional Center in Boley and two new programs at James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helena. Inmates in Helena may be eligible to apply for career readiness and automotive repair programs.

Since CareerTech began training inmates, more than 2,000 students have completed one or more Skills Centers program. Ninety-five percent of all program completers find jobs after release, with 85% of Skills Centers graduates finding jobs directly related to their training.

Although it’s not a new site, McAlester Skills Center in McAlester will soon offer a new career readiness program.

Lockwood said the Department of Corrections understands the value of training its inmates, and DOC continues to work with CareerTech to identify potential training sites.

Along with valuable job skills and life skills training, CareerTech also employs transition coordinators who help inmates find housing, clothing and other essential items they will need when they are released.

The DOJ grant not only allows CareerTech to add additional training programs and increase the number of inmates it serves, but it also addresses Oklahoma’s demand for skilled workers in areas such as welding, electricity and machining.

Oklahoma High School Student Creates Law Prior to Graduation

The vision of Oklahoma FFA is to provide the next generation of leaders who will change the world, and Arapaho-Butler High School FFA member Katie Edelen embodies that vision.

Photo: Jamie Allen (left) with her niece Katie Edelen

May 12, 2023, was a big day for Edelen. The high school senior walked across the stage to receive her diploma just hours after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed her Orange Alert bill into law.

While her friends were lounging by the pool or sleeping in last summer, Edelen was working on an original piece of legislation that would later become House Bill 1546.

The bill, drafted by Edelen as part of a Farm Bureau summer camp, would notify residents about escaped inmates in their area. It is a very personal issue for Edelen, whose aunt, Jamie Allen, was abducted by two escaped inmates in 2006.

Allen survived the abduction, but her niece recalls hearing the horror story many times growing up. If her aunt had known the inmates were at large that day, the traumatic event might have been avoided.

Edelen was excited when she heard the Orange Alert bill received the governor’s approval.

“Maybe this law can save a life,” she said.

The passage of the new law gave Edelen’s aunt even more reason to celebrate her niece’s high school accomplishments.

“Katie Sue has brought a ray of sunshine to a dark situation,” Allen said.

By the time HB1546 takes effect Nov. 1, Edelen will be a freshman at Northern Oklahoma College, where she plans to play basketball. 

CareerTech Conversations – John Day, T&I Program Manager

We sat down with John Day, state programs manager for Trade and Industrial Education, to discuss CareerTech’s impact in filling the skills gap in numerous licensed trades.

Oklahoma BPA Wins at National Leadership Conference

Oklahoma members of Business Professionals of America brought home more than 100 awards from the BPA National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California.

Oklahoma took 430 people to the conference, which drew the largest NLC in history, said Paxton Cavin, Oklahoma BPA adviser at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. She was elected to her second term as National BPA Board of Trustees chair.

“Oklahoma BPA seized every opportunity while in Anaheim for the 2023 National Leadership Conference. Not only did our Oklahoma BPA members perform well in their competitive events, but we also had a notable presence in the leadership opportunities and community service efforts that were offered,” Cavin said. “Our association was one of the few to be involved in every student division including middle level, secondary and postsecondary, which is a direct reflection of the Oklahoma CareerTech System.”

In competitions, Oklahoma had five first place secondary winners and 17 first place postsecondary winners. The state chapter also had four top 10 middle level finalists, 19 top 10 secondary finalists and 77 top 10 postsecondary finalists.

Oklahoma BPA came home with the traveling postsecondary cup.

The chapter also had 16 Ambassador Torch Award winners, eight BPA Cares qualifying chapters, 14 National Quality chapters and one bronze level Presidential Volunteer Service Award winner.

In addition, 37 advisers were recognizes for five or more years of service.

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

CareerTech Conversations – Mark Burch, BMITE Program Manager

We sat down with Mark Burch, state program manager for Business, Marketing and Information Technology Education (BMITE), which provides leadership and support to more than 430 programs across the state. His division manages Business Professionals of America (BPA) and DECA, which are co-curricular CareerTech student organizations aimed to enhance employability skills and maximize long-term success for students.

Oklahoma Collegiate DECA Represents at International Conference

Oklahoma Collegiate DECA members returned from the International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Florida, with several finalist honors and a new international officer.

Maryam Amin, a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, was elected to the 2023-24 Collegiate DECA Executive Council as vice president. She is Oklahoma’s first Collegiate DECA international officer.

Amin was a top 10 test taker, top 10 case study performance and finalist in the fashion merchandising and marketing individual case study competition. Other competition finalists were Devesh Lahoti, OU, sales challenge, and Arman Riaz, OU, emerging technology marketing strategies.

In addition, the OU DECA chapter received the Top New Chapter Award.

A member of DECA for three years, Amin co-founded the collegiate chapter at OU and just completed her term as its president. She is majoring in computer science with a minor in marketing.

“I hope to bring in my own diverse perspective to the team,” Amin said. “The business world is often stereotyped to include only a small subset of our population. DECA serves as a gateway to business that encourages diversity and inclusivity.

She added that she hopes to encourage not only diversity of identities, but also diversity of thought, ideas and creativity.

Both Amin and Riaz are Oklahoma DECA high school products; they both attended Edmond Santa Fe High School.

This was the second year an Oklahoma contingent attended the Collegiate DECA International Career Development Conference.

Oklahoma Collegiate DECA is in its second year; 20 students competed at the state level, and four attended and competed at ICDC. All four were from the OU chapter, Oklahoma Collegiate DECA’s newest chapter.

“It is beyond exciting that Oklahoma has made history at each ICDC we have attended since forming our collegiate association, bringing home our inaugural first place award in our first year, and electing Oklahoma’s first Collegiate DECA executive officer in our second year,” said Paxton Cavin, Oklahoma DECA adviser at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. “My hope is that Oklahoma Collegiate DECA continues to grow and that these successes show postsecondary students all around the state, in technology centers, colleges and universities that Oklahoma DECA has opportunities outside of high school that are aimed at preparing Oklahoma students for future success in the workforce.”

DECA is one of seven CareerTech student organizations affiliated with CareerTech programs. It is affiliated with marketing education. The other six are FCCLA (family and consumer sciences education), FFA (agricultural 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).

Justin Lockwood Named Chief of Staff of Oklahoma CareerTech

The Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education on Thursday approved the appointment of Justin Lockwood as chief of staff of Oklahoma CareerTech.

Lockwood, deputy state director of economic development and support services at Oklahoma CareerTech, will move into the chief of staff position June 1. He will replace Lee Denney, who has been serving as interim chief of staff since January when Brent Haken was named state director.

“Lockwood is an integral part of our team and has worked diligently to find opportunities to grow and serve,” Haken said. “I am excited for him to be named chief of staff by the board. His background, leadership experiences, grounded decision-making skills and passion for quality education will continue to serve the Oklahoma Career and Technology Education System well.”

Lockwood has been a deputy state director at Oklahoma CareerTech since November 2017. He provides leadership for a number of divisions: accreditation, assessment, workforce and economic development, educational partnerships and customized services, facilities and logistics, human resources, Oklahoma APEX Accelerator, work-based learning and the Skills Centers School System. He previously has been responsible for the Curriculum and Instructional Materials Center; digital printing, distribution and client services; and professional development.

“Oklahoma Career Tech is recognized nationally as a premiere Career Tech System,” he said. “It is an honor to have been selected to serve in the role. I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the residents of Oklahoma.”

Lockwood earned an associate degree from Connors State College in Warner; bachelor’s degrees in mechanized agriculture and agricultural education from Oklahoma State University; a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Central Oklahoma; district level certification from Wichita (Kansas) State University; and a doctorate in education from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.

Before coming to Oklahoma CareerTech, Lockwood served as superintendent of Prague Public Schools. He began his career as an agricultural education teacher in Stringtown Public Schools and then Drumright Public Schools before moving into administration as an assistant principal at Arkansas City (Kansas) High School; principal at Caney Valley High School in Caney, Kansas; administrator in charge of transportation, maintenance, grounds and support services in the Caney Valley School District; and superintendent of Flinthills School District in Rosalia, Kansas.

Oklahoma CareerTech: Education that works for you

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 – Tonja Norwood, STEM Program Manager

STEM Program Manager Tonja Norwood sat down with Russell Ray to tell us how CareerTech student programs like TSA (Technology Student Association) foster an interest in STEM careers from an early age. Through these programs and related competitions, the CareerTech system is helping meet the job demand in the varied world of STEM careers.

CareerTech Conversations – Lara Morris, Health Careers Education

We sat down with Health Careers Education Program Manager Lara Morris to discuss the state of Oklahoma’s healthcare careers, especially as it pertains to the nursing job market and opportunities for training and advancement within the CareerTech System.

Oklahoma FFA Member Writes Bill That May Soon Become Law

Thousands of high school students visit the Oklahoma state Capitol each year to learn about state government, including the process of how a bill becomes a law. But very few of those students take their civics lesson as far as FFA member Katie Sue Edelen did.

The Arapaho-Butler High School senior is waiting to hear if a bill she drafted as part of last year’s Capitol Camp, sponsored by Oklahoma Farm Bureau, will become law. Edelen was among a select group of high school juniors and seniors from FFA and 4-H who had the opportunity to write and discuss a piece of legislation about an issue that was important to them.

She created legislation that would create a statewide system known as Orange Alert, which would notify residents if an inmate escapes from a correctional facility within 40 miles of their location. Those opting to receive the notifications would hear an alarm on their cell phones, similar to the Amber Alert and Silver Alert systems.

“An alert would be sent out to everyone in a certain mile radius of the prison,” Edelen said, “so they would be able to take necessary precautions.”

Edelen’s draft caught the attention of Rep. Anthony Moore, R-Clinton, who agreed to sponsor House Bill 1546, which passed unanimously last week. The bill is now being considered by the Senate, authored by Kingfisher Republican Sen. Darcy Jech.

Edelen has a personal interest in the passage of the bill. In 2006, Edelen’s aunt was abducted from her home by two escapees from the Anadarko jail. If the Orange Alert notification system had existed at the time of her abduction, it might have helped Edelen’s family avoid the nightmare that ensued.

Although Edelen was a child at the time, she grew up hearing stories of her aunt’s harrowing escape from her captors. Edelen’s grandmother, Penny Berry, said she is grateful her daughter survived the incident, but her family was forever changed by the dramatic event.

“Katie Sue was a baby,” Berry said. “But she always heard our warnings about how to stay safe and the importance of being aware of your surroundings.”

Rep. Moore said residents who have a prison nearby deserve to be notified immediately if their safety is in danger from an escaped prisoner.

If the bill is approved by the Senate, the bill will then go to the governor for his signature.

About Oklahoma CareerTech’s student organizations

Oklahoma CareerTech has seven co-curricular student organizations, including FFA, FCCLA, BPA, DECA, TSA, HOSA and SkillsUSA. Membership in these organizations hit an all-time high this year, with 97,385 members. 

« Older Entries