Path Home News CareerTech Champions Issue 54 Charles Perry – Kiamichi Technology Center, Atoka campus and FCCLA
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Charles Perry – Kiamichi Technology Center, Atoka campus and FCCLA

From the oilfield to the day care classroom – single dad makes giant career leap.

THEN: A 1994 graduate of Kiamichi Technology Center’s auto body technician program, working as a floor hand in the oilfield. Charles Perry’s life changed dramatically when he suffered a severe back injury on the job. Fourteen titanium screws, four titanium brackets and two synthetic discs later, the 44-year-old oilfield worker knew his oilfield career was over. He needed to make a living, but nothing he was trained to do would be possible with his new physical limitations. 

Perry was a single parent and enjoyed working with children. He considered working for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and they suggested he get training in early childhood education. He enrolled in classes at Kiamichi Technology Centers, where he said he

  • Developed employability skills such as communication, conflict resolution and teamwork, productivity, time management and more.
  • Completed the Microburst Learning Employability Soft Skills training.
  • Received CPR and first aid certifications.
  • Is working on his Master Teacher certification.

“I learned to care about individuals without biased opinions and to teach kindness and caring to all,” he said. “The atmosphere has always been welcoming and helpful in all we do.”

NOW: Because of his injury, Perry is not able to work. Worker’s Compensation is helping with his school expenses, but Perry said money got tight when COVID-19 shut down the Atoka campus and his travel reimbursement was cut off. Classes switched to virtual learning, but Perry didn’t have access to a phone, computer or internet. Kiamichi Tech loaned him a laptop, and he drove the 30-plus miles each day from his home in Antlers where he sat in his truck in the school parking lot, using its Wi-Fi and messaging the instructor when he had problems.

Perry’s goal is to graduate this semester and work with families and children as a teacher assistant or master teacher with the Choctaw Nation.

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