Category Archives: Technology Centers

CareerTech Champions

Joseph Gordon – Moore Norman Technology Center

A love of computers runs in Joseph Gordon’s family. His father works in information technology, and Gordon took his first programming class in middle school. He was intrigued by how computers worked, but he wasn’t really enthralled with programming. A few years later, he toured Moore Norman Technology Center and was intrigued by the network and cloud administration course.

The 16-year-old high school junior enrolled at Moore Norman Tech and was already A+ certified early in his first semester. When school let out for the summer, he accepted an unpaid internship with Norman Public Schools to repair MacBooks. He continued the internship after school started, working for NPS early in the morning, driving to Moore Norman Technology Center for class, working his after-school job at Schlotzsky’s and then going home to study.

But that’s not all. While interning at NPS, he completed his CompTia Net+ certification. He learned a lot as an unpaid intern, but he told his instructor, Todd Hendrickson, “I’d like to make some money.”

Hendrickson agreed it was time for Gordon to start getting compensated for his talents. He helped Gordon get a job with the Addison Group, running cable and providing an Ethernet network for T-Mobile during his senior year of high school. Gordon started at $15 an hour, but after he updated his resume to include his latest certification, his salary was bumped to $17 an hour.

In March 2022, two months before Gordon’s high school graduation, Dell approached him about a VxRail network support team they were putting together. VxRail is an appliance that provides networking, computing and management capabilities. Hendrickson helped Gordon prepare for an interview, and the high school senior was offered one of the 14 open positions. Gordon will work from home and earn a starting salary of $69,000 a year, plus benefits.

“The young man is ecstatic, and his future is set,” Hendrickson said, “and he hasn’t even graduated high school yet!”

As a technical support engineer, Gordon will troubleshoot customer issues with Dell’s VxRail, but he will also use his skills for personal projects, including cabling his house.

“I’m setting up a personal website to document my journey,” he said, “so that anyone who goes through the same journey has a potential guide.”

Legislature Approves $8.8 Million for Oklahoma CareerTech to Meet Health Care Workforce Demands

The Oklahoma Legislature appropriated $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds today to expand Oklahoma CareerTech programs and address the state’s nursing workforce shortage.

Upon signature by Gov. Kevin Stitt, the bill will enable Oklahoma CareerTech to produce an additional 1,100 trained health care workers over the first five years of full implementation.

During the June special session, lawmakers allocated the following for the Health Care Workforce Development Revolving Fund:

  • $1,640,630 to establish a grant program with Indian Capital Technology Center to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
  • $2,032,767 to establish a grant program with Metro Technology Centers to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
  • $1,625,858 to establish a grant program with Tri County Technology Center to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
  • $3,504,368 to establish a grant program with the State Board of Career and Technology Education to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.

Funding CareerTech is the most economical way to reduce the skills gap in health care and other important industries in Oklahoma, said Oklahoma CareerTech Interim State Director Dr. Lee Denney.

“Oklahoma CareerTech is well-positioned to respond quickly and efficiently to our state’s critical nursing shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Denney said. “Our health care training programs prepare workers at all levels to meet the needs of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living centers and other facilities facing significant staffing gaps. We applaud the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding and the Oklahoma legislature for their thorough and transparent process to fund these important programs to improve health outcomes in our state.”

ARPA projects approved during the regular session included $634,000 for CareerTech nursing programs.

“The $9.4 million the legislature is putting towards CareerTech nursing programs is literally going to save lives,” said State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow. “Due to sky-high inflation, many are in search of higher paying work. Meanwhile, health care facilities across the state are in dire need of trained workforce. We are able to address both issues by deploying these taxpayer dollars quickly and efficiently. By partnering with CareerTech, we are making a transformative impact across Oklahoma for future students as well as future patients who will be in their care.”

Kiamichi Paramedic Students Hailed as Heroes

Oklahoma CareerTech is all about hands-on learning, and last week two paramedic instructors and their students took that learning approach to a whole new level at HOSA’s International Leadership Conference in Nashville. HOSA is the career and technical student organization aligned with health careers education.

CareerTech paramedic students from left to right, Dalton Mahoney, Katherine (Dee) McQuate, Ashley Newman, Katey Lawson and Ethan Flynt.

Lisa Dyer, Emergency Medical Services director at Kiamichi Technology Center in Poteau, teaches paramedics along with her colleague, Kelly Higdon. The two recently chaperoned a group of five adult, postsecondary students to the HOSA conference. The students – three from KTC, one from Northwest Technology Center and another from Central Technology Center – are certified emergency medical technicians studying to be paramedics, the highest level of emergency caregiver pre-hospital.

The conference was one of their last major events before graduation. For 16 months, Dyer and Higdon had taught the students about autonomous decision making, empathy, leadership, and of course academic theory and technical skills. KTC’s website says the EMS field offers “the thrill of saving lives in real-world emergency situations.” Little did the Oklahoma contingency know they would actually have that experience on their way to dinner on their first day in Nashville.

As the Oklahoma group prepared to leave their hotel, Dyer and the students heard a woman scream.

With coincidentally precise timing, a police officer showed up, responding to what he initially believed was an unrelated call. The students and officer were approached by two severely injured victims emerging from a nearby wooded area. The paramedic students, dressed in their blue HOSA uniform suits and white shirts, immediately ran toward the victims to provide lifesaving first aid.

The police officer on the scene offered the students a jump bag full of medical supplies and then worked to secure the scene. With the help of their instructors, the students immediately began rendering first aid.

While it was a gruesome scene as the victims had been brutally attacked, the students were not fazed by the patients’ conditions. Putting their training and learned skills to work, they bandaged, applied a tourniquet, and even tended to a severe neck wound.

“Because of the severity of the injury, one of the victims would have likely bled to death if we had not applied a tourniquet,” Dyer said. 

Although critically wounded, both victims were expected to survive, thanks to the quick, professional work of the students.

“They went right to work,” Dyer said. “They worked together like a well-oiled machine. I was so proud of them. We had practiced scenarios just like that,” she added.

Needless to say, the police officer was grateful for the help, as Nashville EMS was responding to a four-alarm fire at the time of the incident. The victims were transported to the hospital and are expected to survive, and the suspect has been arrested.

It wasn’t the students’ first opportunity to respond to an emergency, as they all work on ambulances as EMTs while attending paramedic classes. The Nashville situation, however, was more severe than most of them had experienced.

Dyer said she had never been prouder of students in her life.

“They did their job efficiently and effectively; they worked together as a team,” Dyer said.

Another lesson learned in the classroom, Dyer said: Teamwork makes the team work.

Legislature Approves $8.8 Million for Oklahoma CareerTech to Meet Health Care Workforce Demands

The Oklahoma Legislature appropriated $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds today to expand Oklahoma CareerTech programs and address the state’s nursing workforce shortage.

Upon signature by Gov. Kevin Stitt, the bill will enable Oklahoma CareerTech to produce an additional 1,100 trained health care workers over the first five years of full implementation.

During the June special session, lawmakers allocated the following for the Health Care Workforce Development Revolving Fund:

  • $1,640,630 to establish a grant program with Indian Capital Technology Center to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
  • $2,032,767 to establish a grant program with Metro Technology Centers to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
  • $1,625,858 to establish a grant program with Tri County Technology Center to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
  • $3,504,368 to establish a grant program with the State Board of Career and Technology Education to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.

Funding CareerTech is the most economical way to reduce the skills gap in health care and other important industries in Oklahoma, said Oklahoma CareerTech Interim State Director Dr. Lee Denney.

“Oklahoma CareerTech is well-positioned to respond quickly and efficiently to our state’s critical nursing shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Denney said. “Our health care training programs prepare workers at all levels to meet the needs of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living centers and other facilities facing significant staffing gaps. We applaud the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding and the Oklahoma legislature for their thorough and transparent process to fund these important programs to improve health outcomes in our state.”

ARPA projects approved during the regular session included $634,000 for CareerTech nursing programs.

“The $9.4 million the legislature is putting towards CareerTech nursing programs is literally going to save lives,” said State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow. “Due to sky-high inflation, many are in search of higher paying work. Meanwhile, health care facilities across the state are in dire need of trained workforce. We are able to address both issues by deploying these taxpayer dollars quickly and efficiently. By partnering with CareerTech, we are making a transformative impact across Oklahoma for future students as well as future patients who will be in their care.”

Oklahoma CareerTech Students Win NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awards

Three Oklahoma CareerTech students received the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing.

They were honored at an April 23 awards ceremony at the Tom Love OU Innovation Hub on the University of Oklahoma-Norman campus.

Madelyn McDonald, a cyber defense student at Moore Norman Technology Center, received the Aspirations in Computing Award.

Favour Aloziem, a Computer Science Academy student at Francis Tuttle Technology Center, and Sara Kennedy, a pre-engineering/robotics student at Southern Technology Center, received honorable mention recognition.

Award recipients were selected from more than 3,500 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 postsecondary education.

“Encouraging all students’ 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.

Oklahoma CareerTech Students Win NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awards 

Three Oklahoma CareerTech students received the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing.

They were honored at an April 23 awards ceremony at the Tom Love OU Innovation Hub on the University of Oklahoma-Norman campus.

Madelyn McDonald, a cyber defense student at Moore Norman Technology Center, received the Aspirations in Computing Award.

Favour Aloziem, a Computer Science Academy student at Francis Tuttle Technology Center, and Sara Kennedy, a pre-engineering/robotics student at Southern Technology Center, received honorable mention recognition.

Award recipients were selected from more than 3,500 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 postsecondary education.

“Encouraging all students’ 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 59 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.

CareerTech Champions

Kacey Hawkins – Metro Technology Centers

Metro Tech student has her future buttoned up.

Kacey Hawkins knew she loved social media, and she didn’t want a “regular 9-to-5 job.” That’s where the Trinity School student started in her career planning process. Trinity is an Oklahoma City school that serves children with learning differences.

While in high school, Hawkins enrolled at Metro Technology Centers, first completing the cinematography program and then tackling web design. In the cinematography program, Hawkins learned video editing, lighting and special effects. But she picked up several soft skills at Metro Tech as well, including time management, problem-solving, and of course the importance of spell check.

She said she has also learned a lot about photo editing and is working on her Photoshop certification.

“Mrs. Roberts, my instructor, is like my school mom. She gives us a real perspective of what it’s like to work in the industry, and she encouraged me to get certified,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins graduated high school and plans to build her own business. Still hungry for knowledge, she recently enrolled in Metro Tech’s graphic design program and has started making custom buttons for special events.

As a child, Hawkins remembers helping her mom make custom buttons. But the button-making tradition goes back even further.

“My grandma told me she used to make buttons for rodeo cowboys,” she said. “She gave me her button supplies, so I have an inventory for my business!”

Hawkins recently used those supplies and her new skills to make buttons for a project commissioned by her school counselor in recognition of National Button Day. 

Six Inducted Into Oklahoma CareerTech Hall of Fame

The Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation inducted six people into the Oklahoma Career and Technology Education Hall of Fame on Thursday evening.

The Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation inducted six people into the Oklahoma Career and Technology Education Hall of Fame on Thursday evening. Pictured are, from left, front row, Carolyn Cotton, Bob Funk and Nancy L. Davis, daughter of Nancy Randolph Davis, who was inducted posthumously; and, back row, Phil Waul, Greg Winters and Kent Boggs.

This year’s inductees are Kent Boggs, Carolyn Cotton, Nancy Randolph Davis, Bob Funk, Phil Waul and Greg Winters.

“Oklahoma is well known for having the best CareerTech System in the nation, and the six people we are honoring tonight played starring roles in the state’s journey to becoming the best in career and technical education,” said Lee Denney, Oklahoma CareerTech interim state director.

Boggs retired from the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education in 2018 as the state FFA secretary. Before joining ODCTE in 1985, he taught agricultural education in Elgin and Marlow.

Cotton retired from ODCTE as a family and consumer sciences education program specialist. She taught FCS for more than 30 years before joining the state department.

Nancy Randolph Davis, who will be inducted posthumously, was the first Black student to enroll at Oklahoma A&M, which is now Oklahoma State University. She taught family and consumer sciences at Dunjee High School and Star Spencer High School.

Funk is the co-founder, president and vice chairman of the board of Express Employment Professionals and a longtime advocate of career and technology education. In 2018, he received the inaugural Oklahoma CareerTech Advocate of Excellence Award.

Waul worked for 42 years at Central Technology Center. He joined the tech center as a drafting instructor in 1973 and retired as superintendent in 2015.

Winters retired as Canadian Valley Technology Center superintendent in 2018 after 44 years in the CareerTech System. He also served as superintendent at Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center and Kiamichi Technology Centers.

“This prestigious honor is the highest award given by the CareerTech System. These individuals are true heroes. Their contributions to career and technology education in Oklahoma are extraordinary,” said Dwight Hughes, superintendent/CEO at Autry Technology Center and president of the Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation.

The 2021-22 class of inductees will increase the Hall of Fame membership to 86. The Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Career and Technology Education, was founded in 1990.

Previous inductees include governors, college deans and professors, business and industry leaders, educators and CareerTech System faculty, staff and agency members.

For more information about the Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation, visit https://www.okcareertech.org/about/foundation.

Oklahoma CareerTech Launches Aerospace Campaign

Oklahoma CareerTech has launched a new video series highlighting career and training opportunities in Oklahoma’s aerospace industry.

Over the next few months, CareerTech will release about 40 videos featuring the stories of people working and training in nearly every sector of aviation and aerospace.

The series, titled “Clear for Takeoff: Get Trained in Oklahoma Aerospace,” was developed over several months in cooperation with the ACES program at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

“Aerospace companies and organizations are looking for qualified personnel in every sector of the industry, including aircraft maintenance, unmanned aerial systems and general aviation,” said Oklahoma CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack. “These videos highlight the value of aviation and aerospace training and the rewarding careers it can lead to.”

Oklahoma Department of Commerce Executive Director Brent Kisling said, “Aerospace is our second largest and fastest growing employer, and the jobs available in the industry provide great career opportunities to Oklahomans. I applaud CareerTech and this effort to showcase their training. We are excited to work alongside them to ensure that the talent pipeline for this, and all industries, remains strong.”

The videos can be found on CareerTech’s website at https://oklahoma.gov/careertech/business-and-industry/aerospace-and-aviation.html. The videos will also be posted on CareerTech’s social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram – as they are released each week.

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.

CareerTech, Express Partner on Work-Based Learning

Oklahoma CareerTech is partnering with Express Employment Professionals and the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development to create more work-based learning opportunities for students.

Long established within the CareerTech System, the program offers students chances to learn technical skills and life skills in classes and then it teaches students how to apply them in the workplace through mentoring, job shadowing, internships, and apprenticeship opportunities.

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with CareerTech,” said Bob Funk Sr., president and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals – Oklahoma. “Work-based learning is a great fit for Express and for Oklahoma because it prepares our next generation of employees for the workplace, where there are more jobs than there are workers right now. We could not be more excited about our involvement in this program.”

Work-based learning can introduce students to businesses and workplaces in Oklahoma, but it can also help businesses by creating a pipeline of future employees. Some companies, however, are reluctant to participate in work-based learning for liability reasons, said H.L. Baird, statewide work-based learning liaison at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

The innovative partnership among CareerTech, Express and Workforce Development reduces businesses’ liability risks while providing students paid internships, Baird said.

“The students will be employed by Express and serve as contract employees for the worksite employer,” he said. “This approach also connects the vast employment resources of Express to the students and schools at no cost to participate.”

The partnership will be statewide, but it will be customized through local Express agencies and their industry connections so individualized plans will fit each student, employer and school.

The Express network of employers will provide benefits to both students and businesses. Students will be able to experience internships with multiple employers and even multiple industries, Baird said; if an internship is a poor fit, the student can be reassigned with another Express employer. For businesses, Express will handle all the human resources processes, including recruitment.

“Finding the right employees is what Express does,” Baird said. “We understand the pandemic has created a myriad of workforce challenges for business across the state. Finding skilled employees is a key limiting factor in our state’s recovery. This partnership provides employers access to new and emerging Oklahoma workers who have enrolled in classes and programs that prepare them for the world of work.”

The partnership will be available to all students 16 and older who are enrolled in CareerTech programs in the Oklahoma CareerTech System’s 29 technology centers districts and 394 PK-12 school districts across the state. Through the partnership, CareerTech and Express will help students gain job experience while also helping employers develop future employees.

Businesses, students and school leaders who want more information about the innovative approach to work-based learning can contact H.L. Baird at h.l.baird@careertech.ok.gov, visit the CareerTech work-based learning webpage at okcareer.tech/wbl or contact their local Express Employment Professionals office.

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.

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