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Monday Memo 2014-01-13

Leadership class begins; ag ed task force says “no” to tech center agricultural education/FFA programs; 2014 National Technology Centers That Work Leaders’ Forum; Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center’s automotive program crowned; FIRST® Robotics 2014 Oklahoma Kickoff; The governor, Bob Funk and others weigh in on workforce preparation; and my schedule for the week.
Monday Memo 2014-01-13

Team mascots at the Oklahoma Regional 2013 FIRST Robotics

"I make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes." – Sara Teasdale

Leadership class begins

I had the pleasure to present to the new 2014 CareerTech Leadership class. This group is coordinated by LaMecia Stidham and includes individuals from all aspects of the CareerTech System.

The following were key points I shared with the group.

  • We are building a system based on aspirations, not minimum standards. We are moving from a regulatory agency to an aspirational leadership organization. This means we will have fewer checklists leading to penalties and more opportunities to see how much success we can create for our customers – students and companies.
  • Leadership in this approach is responsible for

    • Replacing everything over time with better approaches. Can you imagine if the leaders of the auto industry had focused on the Model T Ford as the ultimate car and hadn’t constantly searched for better car designs? This concept is embodied in the first paragraph of the FFA Creed presented below. True leadership isn’t about fighting to preserve what is; it is about seeking and seizing opportunities to create greater accomplishments. Maintaining the status quo is basic management. Leadership is ultimately judged on innovation and advancement.

      • FFA Creed – I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds – achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.
    • Empowering everyone in the system through defined autonomy. Defined autonomy is establishing clear results goals, being clear about process limitations and giving incredible latitude to front-line staff to create new ways to get to the results. This concept is embodied in Carver Policy Governance©, Baldrige and many other breakthrough systems design approaches.
    • Ensuring we honor the past, but spend more time creating better results than our ancestors. We must avoid believing our own greatness!
  • Leadership must hold dear to core values. The values we hold dear are embodied in the decision framework questions we ask as we make every decision. They are 1) Is it ethical?, 2) Will it improve customer success?, 3) Can we afford it?, 4) Will it improve customer satisfaction?, 5) Will it improve employee satisfaction? and 6) Will it improve stakeholder satisfaction?
  • Leadership has to look outside of the system and assure relevance to a changing world. Examples include the increasing workplace demands for academic AND technical skills. How do we move to true careertech programs that combine both? Two others are the incredible impact of educational technology options on the education process and the global nature of economic competitiveness. In Oklahoma, there are unique changes occurring that redefine how rural and urban interactions occur, how the energy industry moves forward, and many more.
  • We must maintain a humble sense of humor! If we stay true to our values and if we stay focused on future progress, we will definitely have failure along the way. Recognizing our personal force is only a small part of the ultimate change we create and finding humor in our own inadequacies is really important.

Ag ed task force says “no” to tech center agricultural education/FFA programs

We initiated an administrative rule last week to honor the overwhelming desire of the agricultural education task force not to allow agricultural education programs to operate in tech centers. I met with the agricultural education teacher leadership on Friday and confirmed their agreement with the rule. The rule explicitly prohibits tech center operation of programs identified as agricultural education. It also explicitly prohibits any tech center from operating an FFA chapter. The rule will be working through the usual administrative rule process.

2014 National Technology Centers That Work Leaders’ Forum

The forum will be Jan. 28-30, 2014, at the Sheraton Oklahoma City Hotel. The purpose of the Leaders’ Forum is to provide an opportunity for administrators and other instructional leaders to focus exclusively on shared-time centers — whether they are career centers, career-technical centers, technology centers or academies. The forum creates opportunities for CT leaders to rethink current instructional practices and implement new rigorous standards that equip students with the 21st-century skills needed for success in college and careers. Leaders will learn from and network with experts and practitioners who have increased student achievement. The forum will be focused on the following strands:

  • Strand 1: Addressing the Nation’s Workforce Needs
  • Strand 2: Graduating Students Who Are College and Career Ready
  • Strand 3: Developing Rigorous CT Programs that Address Industry Sector Needs
  • Strand 4: Strengthening the Use of Technology to Improve Student Learning

Register today for this great professional development opportunity close to home! More information and registration is available at or by contacting Gina Hubbard at 405-743-5167 or Twila Green at 405-643-3234.

Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center’s automotive program crowned

Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center’s Automotive Program was crowned the 2013 National Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge Champions on Dec. 14 in Indianapolis. In this nationwide high school engine building competition, a five-student team, led by instructor Jim LaFevers, properly disassembled the engine using hand tools only with proper detorque and disassembly procedures, removing everything except the cam and crank shaft. The team then reassembled the engine using the correct procedure and torque specifications, all while being viewed by judges. Teams received time penalties added to the overall scores outlined in the rule books for quality concerns (dropped components, improper order), improper use of tools, poor sportsmanship, etc.

The EOC team had a corporate sponsorship from Moroso products. The team went into the finals with a three engine build average of 19 minutes and 15 seconds, beating out the old national average by 2 minutes 30 seconds. In the final elimination rounds the team set a new national record time of 18 minutes and 43 seconds. These students learn the importance of communication, teamwork, accuracy, troubleshooting, adapting and trust, along with how to perform in the shop and maintain academic excellence in the classroom. Team Moroso members won more than $250,000 in scholarships to further their education.

FIRST® Robotics 2014 Oklahoma Kickoff

More than 800 high school students were at the Wes Watkins Center at Oklahoma State University on Jan. 4 to hear inventor and FIRST Robotics founder Dean Kamen launch the 2014 FIRST® Robotics Competition. Nearly 70,000 students in more than 92 cities around the world heard the 2014 FRC kickoff via live NASA-TV broadcast and webcast. The kickoff revealed the 2014 game, Aerial Assist. FRC teams were shown the Aerial Assist playing field and received a kit of parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC and a mix of automation components. The Oklahoma Regional FIRST Robotics Competition is March 27-29 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. FRC Oklahoma Regional 2014 has commitments from 60 teams – 47 in-state and 13 out-of-state teams.

The governor, Bob Funk and others weigh in on workforce preparation

Here is a link to an Oklahoma Horizon show that aired this past Sunday on PBS/OETA that featured interviews conducted at the 30th anniversary Express Employment Professionals Business Community Appreciation Luncheon. It is well worth the watch!

Reminder to follow on Twitter Just a reminder you can follow me on twitter at @rdsommers. I look forward to having you follow the daily information as well as the Monday Memo.

Schedule for the week

This schedule is subject to change without notice:


Community tour – Western Tech Center, Burns Flat


Morning chat with the agency staff
Senior leadership meeting
General office work
Meeting with OSU folks


OASA/CCOSA Legislative Conference
General office work
Interview for the upcoming Workforce Luncheon


CareerTech State Board meeting
Meeting with Matt Singleton
General office work


Tour of Frontier Electronics, Stillwater
Taping of leadership training for the agency
Process Quality Train the Trainer seminar

See you around!

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