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CareerTech Using its Strengths to Aid Tornado Recovery Effort

Oklahoma CareerTech is putting its skills to work to help not only the state’s recent tornado victims, but also the volunteers who have rushed to help.

Immediately after the tornados of May 19-20 struck, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education launched Skills to Rebuild. Its mission, said Matt Litterell, is to help Oklahomans as they rebuild their lives through special skills training, safety education, business consulting and student counselor support.

“CareerTech is uniquely positioned in our communities to provide Oklahomans with resources needed to rebuild safely and economically,” said Litterell, ODCTE business and industry services agent and training for industry partners specialist. “A portion of our system is dedicated to teaching professional tradespeople the very skills that many Oklahomans will need in the days ahead.

“So mobilizing those resources to assist our neighbors in this time of need is an expedient and cost-effective effort that benefits our state.”

CareerTech System employees quickly identified the resources that could be used right away: safety training brochures, onsite volunteer safety clinics and a website providing training material on a variety of recovery topics. Information about counseling students, safety and construction training and hiring contractors has been gathered at

In phase two of Skills to Rebuild, Litterell said, CareerTech System employees will “put boots on the ground” in the areas hit by tornadoes. State agency workers will help clean up one day in Moore and one day in the Shawnee area, but system employees have already been on the ground in both areas.

They have offered safety clinics, which are being operated through the technology centers, in both Shawnee and Carney. CareerTech will continue to offer safety clinics as needed through the area technology centers.

CareerTech’s purpose in phase two, Litterell said, is not to act simply as relief workers, but to build a mission around training – what CareerTech does every day.

“Even though we are going as a team and helping clean up, the effort is designed to embed volunteers to act as safety ambassadors as they work with other volunteers and homeowners in the recovery process,” he explained. “This also includes a continuation of safety clinics and supplying those clinics with consumable personal protective equipment and literature to support the training effort.”

CareerTech plans to continue the training mission in phase three of Skills to Rebuild, although what exactly it will include remains to be determined. When it becomes clear what skills homeowners might need to rebuild and repair homes, Litterell said, technology centers will offer training on basic home repair tasks.

The state agency will continue to offer support and resources to help the technology centers in phase three, which may also include assistance for school counselors as children return to classrooms in the fall.

“It will be up to technology centers to assess needs,” Litterell said. “Phase three could be as long as a year.”

Anyone who needs help at any time, of course, should contact his or her local technology center, he added.

For more information about Skills to Rebuild or the CareerTech System, visit

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 57 campuses, 393 comprehensive school districts and 13 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities.

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. Laura Wilson, Writer/Editor Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education 1500 W. Seventh Ave., Stillwater, OK 74074 405-743-5522


By Laura Wilson, writer/editor

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