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Meridian Technology Center Instructors Receive Honors; OSU Professor Receives ACTE Lifetime Achievement Award

Aug 14, 2019

STILLWATER, Okla. (August 12, 2019) - Two Meridian Technology Center instructors, Pamela Deeds Updike and Joe Steele, have been recognized for their teaching excellence.

Each year the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education recognizes awards of excellence during Summit, the association’s annual summer conference. 

Pamela Deeds Updike, Practical Nursing Instructor, was recognized during the conference as a nominee in the New Teacher of the Year category for the Health Science Education division. This award recognizes career and technical education teachers who have demonstrated innovation in the classroom and have implemented high quality career and technical programs that ensure student success.

In Deeds Updike’s relatively short career as a CTE educator, she has been a model for how professional development provides for a prepared and effective program staff, focusing on student assessment to help graduates pass their licensing exam, analyzing program data to improve student outcomes, and expanding current innovative programs to further student career development for Meridian’s Health Careers students.

In 2017, Deeds Updike developed a mentorship program for students in the Practical Nursing program. The six-month program includes mentor guidelines and responsibilities, required meeting dates, a mentorship agreement, program evaluation journal entries and a mentor/mentee rubric that provides instructors confidential feedback. Now entering its fourth cycle, mentees report looking forward to having their own mentee as new students enter the program. Updike’s mentoring initiative has recently expanded to include high school students in Meridian’s Health Careers program. Seeing the benefits of implementing a mentorship program firsthand, she has presented her experiences with other CTE professionals at both the OkACTE annual conference and the national ACTE CareerTech VISION conference.

At the campus level, Welding instructor Joe Steele was nominated for Teacher of the Year in the Trade and Industrial Education division. As seen by the success of his students, teaching methods and strong relationships with his business and industry partners, Steele has made his program one of the most respected in the state. Meridian receives multiple requests from other schools and companies interested in touring Steele’s program each year.

Steele believes that student engagement increases with quality feedback. To promote this, Steele holds daily stand-up meetings with each of his students. During these brief conversations, Steele gives each student feedback on the work they completed each day and provides direction for the next day’s work. Through this daily exchange, students learn to ask good questions and how to take constructive criticism and/or praise for their work. The stand-up meeting also sets the expectation for the next class session, so students never wonder what they will be doing next.

Steele also prepares students for the workforce by simulating the industry environment as much as possible. Students have leadership roles by serving as a mentor to younger students or as the shop foreman for a week to assist other students and to help manage the facilities, equipment and supplies within the program. To complement these experiences, he also developed lessons to help prepare students who want to open and operate their own welding business.

ACTE Lifetime Achievement Award

Mary Jo Self, Ed.D., associate professor and faculty fellow of workforce and adult education at Oklahoma State University, received the Association for Career and Technical Education Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes CTE professionals for their leadership on behalf of ACTE, their innovations in CTE and their contributions to the field over an extended period of time.

Dr. Self’s classes prepare and develop teachers in trade and technology programs. She uses her 40 years of experience in ACTE to inform her teaching and continues to grow her experience by visiting the 29 tech center districts located across the state. “In teacher education, we are required to spend at least 10 hours per year in schools. Dr. Self typically spends between 75 and 100 hours per year in schools,” said Dr. Sheri Vasinda, associate professor of literacy education at OSU.

Dr. Self has spent 18 years researching teachers’ induction into and journeys through the CareerTech system, trying to determine why they stay, why they leave and what structures are in place to work to mentor and retain them. She has received almost $2 million in grants for this research and has spoken about it worldwide. Through this research, she and her colleagues have created the New Teacher Induction process in Oklahoma. The retention rate of CTE teachers who complete this induction process is 87%, while teachers who did not participate have a retention rate of 50%.

“When I consider innovation and a lifetime of service to career and technology education, I can think of no other more deserving colleague for the ACTE Lifetime Achievement Award than my colleague, Dr. Mary Jo Self,” said Vasinda.

“We are very proud of each of those who were recognized for their accomplishments in the CTE community and the classroom” said Superintendent/CEO Dr. Douglas Major. “Oklahoma is recognized as a leader in career and technical education across the country. These individuals are examples of the best of the best in our system.”

Meridian Technology Center has been a driver of economic development since 1975. With a mission to educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures, Meridian offers full-time career training programs, short courses, Business and Industry services and entrepreneurial support to residents from the Agra, Carney, Glencoe, Guthrie, Morrison, Mulhall-Orlando, Pawnee, Perkins-Tryon, Perry and Stillwater school districts. Meridian is one of 29 schools within Oklahoma’s CareerTech system.

For more information or to enroll visit or contact a career counselor by phone at (405) 377-3333 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.

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