Skip to main content

Nearly 4,000 educators gather for professional development and motivation

Thursday, August 04, 2022

During uncertain times, educators need to accept and embrace change, according to Mark Mayfield, a speaker at the 55th annual CareerTech conference in Tulsa. Mayfield’s presentation offered teachers tools to boost their innovation skills and help them thrive during times of change.

Oklahoma CareerTech’s interim director, Lee Denney, said nearly 4,000 educators gathered at the Cox Business Convention Center for Oklahoma Summit, a partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education. It provides professional development opportunities for CareerTech educators, administrators, school board members, support staff members and business partners.

Denney said the two-day event is always held the first week of August.

“Our CareerTech educators report back to their respective programs Aug. 1,” Denney said. “The conference is a great way to get teachers motivated to return to the classrooms.”

This was presenter Mary Jo Self’s 43rd CareerTech conference. The Oklahoma State University associate professor is a former CareerTech instructor.

“The conference sets the tone for the upcoming school year,” Self said. “It offers attendees the chance to network and be informed of the latest techniques and trends and prepare for the upcoming year.”

Financial adviser Richard Collins with Horizon Financial Services celebrated his 10th year as an OkACTE sponsor for the annual event. Collins talked to the educators about planning for retirement. He said making the decision to retire starts with being informed about all your options.

“Making the decision to retire can be intimidating,” Collins said. “Education is key.”

Oklahoma Summit also celebrates the outstanding work of Oklahoma CareerTech professionals, according to Skye McNiel, executive director of OkACTE.

Once again, Express Employment Professionals donated more than $27,000 in cash prizes to the top winners of OkACTE’s annual awards. Bob Funk Jr., senior vice president of strategic planning and corporate development, was on stage to present those awards.

“Oklahoma CareerTech not only makes a difference in the lives of its students by helping them land quality jobs,” Funk said, “but it also moves the state’s economic needle by fulfilling critical workforce needs for Oklahoma businesses.”

Biomedical sciences instructor Karen Upton from Metro Technology Centers was surprised and pleased to be named OkACTE Teacher of the Year, an honor that came with a check for $10,000 from Express Employment Professionals.

“Teachers work very hard,” Upton said. “Long hours, lots of stress, and it’s nice to see someone thinks what you do is important.”

David Martin, assistant superintendent of instruction at Metro Technology Centers, received one of CareerTech’s two most prestigious awards at the conference. Martin received the Arch Alexander Award. The Francis Tuttle Award of Excellence was presented to Lorri Carlile, director of outreach and partnerships for OkACTE.


OkACTE award winners also included the following:

Teacher of the Year - Karen Upton, Metro Technology Centers - $10,000 from Express Employment Professionals

Postsecondary Professional of the Year – Kim Goode, Southern Technology Center - $7,500 from Express Employment Professionals

New Teacher of the Year - Shelly Stephens, Tri County Technology Center - $5,000 from Express Employment Professionals

Support Staff Member of the Year – Kendra Allen, Canadian Valley Technology Center - $5,000 from Express Employment Professionals

Arch Alexander Award – David Martin, Metro Technology Centers

Francis Tuttle Award of Excellence – Lorri Carlile, OkACTE


A complete list of all of the award winners can be found on our website at:


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, 391 PK-12 school districts, 15 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.

Photo: Karen Upton, OkACTE Teacher of the Year

Last Modified on Aug 05, 2022
Back to Top