Mention the history of Oklahoma distributive education and one person comes immediately to mind — M. J. DeBenning. DeBenning presided over the incorporation of distributive education into the Oklahoma CareerTech System, and he has been one of its staunchest defenders.
DeBenning began his career in education 65 years ago as an elementary teacher in Jessie, Oklahoma. He spent the next 10 years as teacher and administrator in the Seminole school system, before leaving education in 1937 to manage an auto supply store.
After returning to teaching in 1939 at Konawa, DeBenning began his long career in distributive education. He served as dean of men and teacher coordinator of vocational distributive education at Northwestern Oklahoma Junior College. In 1941, he became an itinerant instructor and teacher trainer in the College of Business at Oklahoma State University, then Oklahoma A&M. He became assistant state coordinator of distributive education at the State Board of Vocational Education in 1942 and was soon promoted to coordinator. He also served as assistant professor in OSU’s College of Business.
During his long tenure in distributive education, DeBenning served as a visiting professor and consultant to 14 of the nation’s largest and most prestigious universities. He also devoted years of service to the Distributive Education Clubs of America. From the organization’s beginning in 1947 until his retirement in 1973, DeBenning never missed a national DECA career development conference. After retiring, he was fund-raiser for the Oklahoma CareerTech Foundation until 1986.
Mr. DeBenning was inducted to the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 1997.