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Director's Memo 2021-12-20

Monday, December 20, 2021

ODCTE honors employees with Pinnacle Awards

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Center honored several of its employees last week with Pinnacle Awards, which recognizes exceptional work that goes beyond an employee’s job duties.

Individual recipients were Krissy Miller, Margi Cooper and Tracy Boyington, Innovations; Craig Maile and Tami Redus, Above and Beyond; Brandy Burns and Clark Long, Leadership in Achieving Excellence; and Nacoe Thomas, Sandy Patocka and Andrea Bradley, Excellence in Customer Service.

Receiving Team awards were Tami Redus, Nacoe Thomas, Angela Teeman and Kristye O’Mealey, STEM; Debbie Hamble, Steve Robison, Jordan Duck, Stephanie Hodges and Jill Reavis, Federal Programs; and Kyla Trammell, Melanie Goodner, Melissa Sturgeon, Connie Lewis, Connie Romans, Andrea Hancock, Laura Wilson, Kylie Moulton, Karen Hart, Margi Cooper, Marissa Villones, Gunner Fullbright, Blane Singletary and Russell Ray, United Way committee.

For more information about the recipients’ achievements, visit the Oklahoma CareerTech website.


CareerTech awarded grant for new skills center at correctional facility in Vinita

Oklahoma CareerTech will open a new skills center in Vinita in 2022.

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, in partnership with the Department of Corrections, received a Second Chance Grant for $874,000 to open the skills center at the Northeast Oklahoma Community Corrections Center.

“The CareerTech Skills Centers School System offers individuals in Oklahoma correctional centers the opportunity to learn the skills they’ll need to make a successful transition to the workplace upon their release,” said CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack. “We are excited to extend the system to another location, giving even more people the opportunity to transition to a successful life.”

Read more on Oklahoma CareerTech’s website.


Meridian Tech named top mid-size employer in state

Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater has been named the top mid-size employer in Oklahoma for the second year in a row in The Oklahoman’s annual Top Workplaces contest.

It is the technology center’s third time overall in the top spot.

Also earning spots are Central Technology Center in Drumright at No. 7 on the mid-size employers list and Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center in Choctaw at No. 10 on the small employers list.

Read more about Meridian’s honor on The Oklahoman’s website, and see the complete lists at Top Workplaces.


OK Career Guide training sessions planned

Oklahoma CareerTech’s Counseling and Career Development Division has planned a number of OK Career Guide training sessions starting in January.

Webinar and in-person sessions are planned for Galaxy, an online career awareness platform for elementary students; OK Career Guide beginner educator training; and training for those who are more experienced in using OK Career Guide. They can receive training in using My Ed Plans, assessments, individual career and academic plans and more.

For more information about the sessions, visit the CCD training page on Oklahoma CareerTech’s website.


CareerTech Champion: Jay Villemarette - Moore Norman Technology Center and SkillsUSA

THEN: A self-conscious 17-year-old with an unusual hobby and no plans for his future. It was back in the ’80s when Jay Villemarette decided to enroll in Moore Norman Technology Center’s auto body course because he liked working with his hands. He didn’t know at the time that this decision would shape his future.

The auto body program taught the high school junior how to repair vehicles, but the personal and professional life lessons Villemarette learned from his MNTC instructor were even more valuable.

“Moore Norman is one of the first places I felt valued as a person,” he said. “And I owe much of my self-confidence to my instructor, Jim Opdyke. What he saw in me – at 17 – was something I didn’t see yet.”

One of the first lessons he learned was the importance of following through with the projects he started. Villemarette represented his class at the state SkillsUSA contest and placed third in the auto body competition. He went on to win fifth place at the national convention. Self-confidence was winning over self-consciousness.

It was the process of self-discovery that gave him the confidence to follow his true passion, which had absolutely nothing to do with cars. That passion started as a hobby when he was just a child.

When Villemarette was 7 years old, he found a canine skull in the woods. He was fascinated by it, and with his father’s help he began collecting other skulls. By high school, he was selling them while he worked as an auto body technician.

Several decades later, what started as an unusual hobby is now a successful family business. Villemarette and his wife started Skulls Unlimited International, a mail-order company that services customers from around the world. Again, this is where his newfound self-confidence came into play.

“I created a market where a market hadn’t existed,” he said. “I brought skulls and skull collecting into the mainstream market and made skulls and skeletons available to the educational and science communities.”

Villemarette has supplied skeletons and skulls to many well-known museums, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.; the American Museum of Natural History in New York; and the Field Museum in Chicago. His company processes about 30,000 skulls or skeletons a year, making it the largest supplier of osteological specimens in the world. It was even featured on “Dirty Jobs" and "Modern Marvels".

In 2010, Villemarette opened the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City. There, visitors can see a Komodo dragon skeleton that was a presidential gift to George H.W. Bush; a complete 40-foot humpback whale skeleton; and much more.

NOW: All three of his sons work for Skulls Unlimited with him and his wife, and two of the young men took courses at MNTC.

“These classes have done for my sons what it did for me,” Villemarette said. “I attribute much of my work ethic and self-confidence to my time at CareerTech.”

“CareerTech made an impact on my life that changed me forever.” -- Jay Villemarette, Skulls Unlimited

See Skulls Unlimited featured on Dirty Jobs

See Skulls Unlimited featured on Modern Marvels

Skulls Unlimited website


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Last Modified on Dec 20, 2021
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