CareerTech Champions

Each year, thousands of Oklahomans reap the benefits provided by Career and Technology Education. CareerTech Champions tell the story of how individuals apply learning to become successful employees, entrepreneurs and leaders in business organizations.

Anthony Rifenberry – Adult Basic Education

Graduation and certification are terms this BPA winner didn’t expect to hear.

AnthonyRifenberry

THEN: He had been an orphan all of his life. Anthony Rifenberry moved from a series of foster homes to the Oklahoma Lions Boys Ranch, now Lions Meadows of Hope. When he turned 18, he needed to find a job.

It was a vicious cycle. To get a job, he needed training, and to get training, he needed money. But the roadblocks didn’t stop there. Anthony wanted to enroll in Meridian Technology Center’s information technology program, but to qualify for the financial assistance he would need, he would have to have a high school diploma.

Anthony enrolled in the Meridian Tech’s adult basic education program, and in only three months, he earned his high school equivalency diploma. The ABE program gave Anthony:

  • The confidence to believe he could graduate high school.
  • Personal assistance with complex math and other subjects required to pass the HSE exam.
  • The knowledge and skills he needed to pass the HSE exam.

The smaller, more intimate classroom environment was one of the keys to Anthony’s academic success.

“I definitely learned more math at Meridian Tech than I did in high school,” he said.

NOW: Anthony is a member of Business Professionals of America, and his network design team won the state contest. The team will compete at BPA’s national conference in Anaheim, California, in May. After he graduates with his network and PC support specialist certification, Anthony would like to continue his education, possibly enrolling in network engineering or cybersecurity.

“I had convinced myself that graduating high school and getting into a technology center was not possible.”

Anthony Rifenberry

Oklahoma CareerTech’s OBAN Program Offering Free Workshops on U.S. HUBZone Program

The Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network will offer four free workshops in April and May to give information about an economic development opportunity existing in the federal Historically Underutilized Business Zone Program.OBAN

The workshops will be April 18 in Owasso, April 25 in Durant, April 30 in Lawton and May 8 in McAlester. To register or get more information call 405-227-0382 or go to the registration website for each workshop: https://hubzoneowasso.eventbrite.com (Owasso), https://hubzonedurant.eventbrite.com (Durant), https://hubzonelawton.eventbrite.com (Lawton) or https://hubzonemcalester.eventbrite.com (McAlester).

“A large portion of Oklahoma is designated as HUBZone by the U.S. Small Business Administration,” OBAN program manager Carter Merkle explained. “This gives Oklahoma a competitive advantage in selling to federal agencies, a fact that should be understood by business owners, local chambers of commerce and economic development offices across the state. We at OBAN hope to raise awareness of the program and, as always, we stand ready to assist a business in applying for HUBZone certification.”

The HUBZone program seeks to encourage federal agencies to move at least 3 percent of their spending to companies operating in areas that have a history of low economic success. The areas, designated by the SBA, are chosen on economic activity, but also include Indian reservations and Oklahoma’s former reservations, which cover most of Oklahoma.

“The HUBZone program can help drive job growth and economic development in Oklahoma because certified HUBZone businesses must have their principal office located in a HUBZone and at least 35 percent of their employees must reside in the HUBZone,” said John D. Veal Jr., SBA Oklahoma deputy director.

The upcoming workshops feature presentations by Veal, OBAN procurement counselors and partners of Koprince Law LLC, specialists in federal contracting law. The events will also include current HUBZone certified businesses giving real life experiences using the program.

OBAN is a procurement technical assistance center operating within the Oklahoma CareerTech System. The program serves Oklahoma businesses, assisting them in selling to federal, state, local and tribal governments. OBAN has helped Oklahoma businesses capture billions of dollars over its 33-year history. It operates out of 12 Oklahoma CareerTech technology centers scattered across the state.

CareerTech launches preK-5 career awareness program

Oklahoma CareerTech launched a new online career awareness program for elementary students on March 12. The Galaxy program, a component of OK Career Guide, is for students in grades preK-5. Galaxy will be unveiled at the For Counselors Only Conference at Tulsa Technology Center’s Owasso campus.Basic RGB

The program combines games, activities and experiences for today’s tech-savvy learners, and is accessible from laptops, desktops and tablets. It uses an outer space theme, including astronauts and spaceships. Students launch into planets, which represent different work environments.

“It’s a fast-paced, interactive program that makes career awareness fun and engaging,” said Cori Gray, CareerTech deputy state director.

Lawton Public Schools Counselor Amy Wilcox said Galaxy encourages students to explore both traditional and nontraditional careers. Wilcox was part of a group that beta-tested the program before its official launch.

“Our students love the program,” Wilcox said. “Galaxy helps their self-esteem and encourages them to become more goal-oriented.”

The system begins with the basic concept of “What is work?” Each year the program builds on that concept, including what people do at work, why they work, what tools and skills they will use for work and how students can prepare for work. By fifth grade, students can investigate specific occupations.

“We’re just letting kids explore what’s out there,” said Lawton Assistant Principal Starla Reed.

In addition to career awareness, Galaxy’s activities integrate academic skills. It emphasizes the importance of reading and writing, and the games show how math, science and social studies fit into the world of work.

Reed said the program is designed to connect to the Individual Career Academic Plan required by Oklahoma state law. Beginning with the freshmen of 2018-19 (graduates of 2023), all Oklahoma students must have an ICAP to graduate. The ICAP guides them as they explore career, academic and post-secondary opportunities, and must be updated annually. A personal portfolio allows students to create meaningful career pathways and prepares them to be career- and college-ready.

Galaxy, a product of Kuder, makes OK Career Guide appropriate for Oklahomans of all ages in all stages of life. OK Career Guide is a statewide career development education system that offers research-based assessments that help users identify interests, skills and values. The system identifies training and education needs for each occupation and a database of schools that offer the necessary education for that career.

Parents and families can learn about Galaxy at https://galaxy.kuder.com/parents.

CareerTech Champions

Each year, thousands of Oklahomans reap the benefits provided by Career and Technology Education. CareerTech Champions tell the story of how individuals apply learning to become successful employees, entrepreneurs and leaders in business organizations.

Buddy Pearce – Pontotoc Technology Center

Buddy Pearce1

Firefighter followed his dream to the highest, driest, windiest, coldest continent on the planet.

THEN: After a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, two years of college and an unsatisfying job in the oil and gas industry, Buddy Pearce needed a new challenge. He said the most exciting thing he could imagine was to be a firefighter, so he sold his Harley-Davidson motorcycle for tuition money and enrolled in the 20-week fire academy at Pontotoc Technology Center. Buddy said his instructors at Pontotoc:

  • Taught him the importance of honor, loyalty and hard work.
  • Helped him prepare for a number of certifications, including firefighter I and II, HAZMAT operations, EMT basics, CPR and first aid.
  • Made it possible for him to land a full-time firefighter/EMT job in Seminole.

Buddy said his instructors inspired him so much he began working part-time as an instructor for the academy.

“The instructors prepared us not only for the fire service, but also to lead successful lives,” he said.

NOW: Buddy served four years with the Seminole Fire Department. He left Oklahoma to accept a position with the Antarctic Fire Department, the only full-time professional fire department in Antarctica. He is deployed six to seven months a year at McMurdo Station, a U.S.-managed scientific research station. He returns to Oklahoma between contracts.

“I am now skilled enough in my craft that I have been able to follow my dreams,” he said.Buddy Pearce 2

“I absolutely use the skills I acquired at Pontotoc Technology Center every day of my life.”

Buddy Pearce
Antarctic firefighter

 

“Oklahoma CareerTech is Workforce and Economic Development”

February is CTE Month, but shouldn’t every month be about career and technology education?

For more than 100 years, Oklahoma’s system of career and technology education has focused on improving Oklahoma’s economy by offering individuals the training and skills necessary to be successful in the workplace and providing companies with the required workforce necessary to compete globally.

Watch Dr. Marcie Mack, State Director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, discuss the exciting opportunities that CareerTech offers…

 

 

Gordon Cooper Tech Breaks Ground for Public Safety Training Facility

05e610d7-aac8-44f4-9bb2-1f0d14e70d7eA large gathering of community leaders, school officials, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel broke ground on the Marty Lewis Public Safety Training Facility recently at Gordon Cooper Technology Center.

GCTC Board of Education President Gary Crain said the board decided to name the new building in honor of GCTC Superintendent Marty Lewis because he fostered a culture of united purpose and commitment to serve people of this area.

A retired Oklahoma Highway Patrol supervisor, Crain said providing the latest and best training for emergency responders can make the difference between life and death in a critical situation.

“Leaders in this area worked with the technology center without division on the common goal of making our communities safer,” he said.

Lewis, who plans to retire at the end of June, acknowledged the support his family received from emergency responders when his son was involved in a fatal accident on Turner Turnpike in 2010.

“The police, firefighters and paramedics of this area deserve our respect and the best education and training we can provide for the future and existing emergency workforce,” he said.

The $5 million facility adjacent to 45th Street and the GCTC south entrance will house training for area high school students and working law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics.

The more than 20,000-square-feet facility contains four classrooms, a paramedic training lab, a firearm simulation room, a driving simulation room, a workout space, a large meeting room, a fire training tower and additional water features for fire equipment.

Construction is scheduled for completion in December.

CareerTech’s Business and Industry Services

Oklahoma CareerTech’s Business and Industry Services division has the resources to guide you through the maze of government contracting to help your company grow. Assistance for small business is available to train and retool workers or train a new workforce to guarantee production from day one. The CareerTech system also provides training and resources for volunteer firefighters and short term professional development for adults.

See what Business and Industry Services can do for YOU!

CareerTech Skills Centers – Changing Lives

At the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech, our Skills Centers division offers job training to juveniles under the supervision of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs. Programs like Cedar Canyon teach both job skills and life skills.

 

We See You

We’re more than Vo-Tech, we’re CareerTech, and we see YOU. Whether you’re getting a head start for college, or completing a career program, nothing teaches better than experience…and we have that in abundance. Keep striving, keep learning, and maximize your full potential!

CareerTech 2020 Agenda to Add High-Demand Programming

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A $21 million increase in funding would allow the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education to expand programming to fill Oklahoma’s skills gap.

ODCTE’s state appropriations request for fiscal year 2020 for the first regular session of the 57th Oklahoma Legislature targets narrowing Oklahoma’s skills gap through the proposed increase of $21 million that would allow CareerTech to achieve the following:

  • Fund more than 130 unfunded programs and provide for 90 new programs to be added to K-12 CareerTech offerings.
  • Add 12 new programs in state correctional facilities that would serve 500 to 600 more inmates.
  • Increase Training for Industry Programs by 10 percent to more than 3,200 enrollments.
  • Increase customized training by 10 percent to almost 300,000 enrollments.
  • Increase certifications/credentials annually by 5 percent, adding almost 2,400 more during three years.

“Oklahoma has a skills gap, and CareerTech has a solution,” said Marcie Mack, ODCTE state director. “Investing in CareerTech will produce more skilled workers for existing, unfilled Oklahoma jobs. It will invigorate program offerings in our K-12 schools and technology centers. It powers training programs for Oklahoma businesses, and it gives our incarcerated students a second chance at life.”

As a part of the appropriations request, $11.8 million would go toward paying the state’s obligation to fund the required health benefit allowance. If the state funds the current requirement, Mack said, it will immediately free up that amount to be redirected to CareerTech classrooms.

The appropriations request seeks a 14.8 percent increase over the FY19 budget of $120.4 million. While funds did increase in FY19 from FY18 levels, in the last 10 years Oklahoma CareerTech education has seen an overall reduction in general appropriations by 28 percent.

Industry leaders from across sectors that provide significant impact to Oklahoma’s economy emphasized the need to increase investments in career-ready education as a primary component of moving Oklahoma forward.

“The strongest pipeline to meet the demand in the agriculture industry is through CareerTech agricultural education and the FFA,” said Brent Kisling, Enid Regional Development Alliance executive director. “This investment in agricultural education, as well as other K-12 CareerTech programs would provide direct funding to classroom resources.

“I truly have never seen a more valuable program than Oklahoma FFA when it comes to instilling leadership and work ethic in our youth. CareerTech student organizations across the board add the workplace elements that help to make students successful. These programs are vital to training future generations.”

CareerTech’s skills gap solutions also help attract new businesses to the state and help existing businesses expand. In 2018 the CareerTech System served more than 6,900 companies, helping their employees gain new skills and adding new jobs to the Oklahoma economy.

“Solving the skills gap is at the forefront of an economic transformation pushing our state forward. CareerTech and their capabilities in upskilling workers, customizing training for industry and growing a pipeline of skilled workers is essential to keeping Oklahoma on the map for expanding and attracting companies to the state,” said David Stewart, chief administrative officer for MidAmerica Industrial Park and member of the State Board of Career and Technology Education.

Michael Culwell, campus director in Poteau at Kiamichi Technology Centers and president of the Oklahoma Association for Career and Technology Education, said, “Programs like welding technology, which give our students a high-quality wage for construction and manufacturing jobs that are in high demand in our area, should be expanded. The value of these programs and other CareerTech industry training programs are a priority to keeping Oklahoma’s future bright.”

Other items in the 2020 agenda include enriching work-based learning experiences, expanding professional development for CareerTech professionals and deploying new technology for career awareness. For an itemized list of all FY20 funding requests view the business plan and annual report for FY18 details.

ABOUT OKLAHOMA’S CAREERTECH SYSTEM

Oklahoma’s Career and Technology Education System is focused on developing a world-class workforce. This comprehensive system delivers educational experiences through 393 K-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 16 Skills Centers sites and 31 adult basic education providers and to more than 6,900 businesses. CareerTech’s mission is clear: to improve Oklahoma’s economy by providing individuals with the training and skills necessary to be successful in the workplace and by providing companies with the required workforce to compete globally. We are faced with a skills gap, and CareerTech has a solution.

For more about CareerTech visit OkCareerTech.org.
Learn more about the difference CareerTech makes for students.

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