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Mike Lopez

Mike Lopez

From left, Joe Robinson, ODCTE; Jim Struby, OKDHS; Mike Lopez; Sen. Ann Griffin; Janie Clay, OkCTEEC; and Kathy Quinn-Teague, OSRHE.

April 25, 2014

Chisholm Trail Technology Center instructor Mike Lopez recently received the Outstanding Instructor of Non-Traditional Students Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Educators Equity Council.

Lopez was one of 25 people honored at the 20th annual Making It Work Day April 24 at the state Capitol. Making It Work Day recognizes individuals who are committed to removing barriers to success for single-parent families by providing educational experiences for students beyond the classroom. The ceremony also recognized nontraditional students and members who received national honors for their efforts.

Lopez, who teaches in the automotive service technician program, creates an atmosphere in his classroom and the shop area that challenges students to learn and stretch beyond what they think they can do, said Helen Naifeh, Chisholm Trail Program LIFE coordinator, who nominated him for the award. He works to create a level playing field so all of his students, both male and female, can succeed, she said.

“Mr. Lopez not only helps students have the academic knowledge and hand-on skills necessary to be successful, he also works to instill solid employability skills as well,” Naifeh said. “He helps his students learn the importance of giving back to the communities where they live. This past holiday season, his class adopted a local family and helped that family enjoy a Christmas that would not have been possible without gifts provided through fundraisers by his class.”

OkCTEEC is affiliated with the administrative division of the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education. The council advocates for students pursuing nontraditional careers and for resources for educating single parents.

“The mission of OkCTEEC is to serve as a unifying council for all personnel serving displaced homemakers, single parents, teen parents, single pregnant teens and women, nontraditional students and at-risk females,” said Lou Ann Hargrave, Work Prep and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. She serves as an adviser for OkCTEEC, along with Sandy Elledge of the Department of Human Services and Kathy Quinn-Teague of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

“State and federal programs often cannot remove all the obstacles facing those living in poverty,” said Janie Clay, OkCTEEC president and coordinator of the Allied Jobs Program at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. “Therefore, a strong community partnership is imperative among agencies, businesses and industries as the participants transition from education and training to employment and self-sufficiency. We rely heavily on our partners to provide learning opportunities outside the classroom.”

For more information about OkCTEEC, visit For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, visit

Laura Wilson, Writer/Editor

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