Belinda Cole started her love of education at U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City, then entered Southwestern Oklahoma State University. She began teaching in Moore Public Schools before earning a master’s degree in school counseling at the University of Central Oklahoma and becoming a school counselor. She earned a doctorate in occupational and adult education from Oklahoma State University in 1994.
She started her career with the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education, now the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, as a career specialist in 1984. She became the first state coordinator of guidance at ODVTE in 1986. She built the vocational guidance system from the ground up as she worked as a one-person division until 1989. She was then named the state school-to-work coordinator.
Cole was promoted to associate state director for career and support services at ODVTE and provided strong leadership for guidance, academic integration, STEM courses in the technology centers and educational equity.
Cole was a member of the Governor’s Workforce and Economic Development Council and was active on the Workforce Staff Solutions Staff Team. She engaged at the national level also. Notably, she was the first woman elected as ACTE Guidance Division vice president. Her numerous awards and recognitions for her contributions to career and technical education include Outstanding Educator by ACTE, the Oklahoma Association for Minorities in Career and Technology Education President’s Award and the Arch Alexander Award for outstanding career contributions to Oklahoma CTE.
Cole served as the first Francis Tuttle Endowed Chair for Occupational Education Studies at Oklahoma State University, where she supported the CareerTech System by teaching, advising university students in graduate degree programs and collaborating with the agency on multiple projects including guidance, academics and teacher induction.
In 2010, she was selected to be the coordinator for the ACTE National Leadership Fellowship Program, which focuses on next generation leadership for the national career and technical education system. She served two terms.
Cole continues her leadership in CTE education and guidance through her work with schools in Oklahoma and across the country as a consultant with the Southern Region Education Board.
In retirement, she has been traveling extensively, attending concerts and enjoying Trop-rock music with friends in the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association. Her family includes Bryan and Shelly McCharen and sons Malcom and Lukas. Her life is also blessed with partner, love and fellow Parrothead Juan Gonzales.
Dr. Belinda Cole was inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 2017.