Why Choose a CareerTech for Your High School Student? - MetroFamily Magazine
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Why Choose a CareerTech for Your High School Student?

By Francis Tuttle Technology Center

by Rebecca Fast. Photos provided.

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

Early exploration of varied careers and career paths can encourage a student’s passion, refine their interests and help better prepare them for college or a career after high school. According to the U.S. Department of Education, eight years after their expected graduation date, students who focused on CareerTech, career and technical education (CTE), courses while in high school had higher median annual earnings than students who did not focus on CTE.

careertech, francis tuttleAmong Oklahoma’s CareerTech network offering these valuable early learning experiences is Francis Tuttle Technology Center, which encompasses four campuses: the Portland, Reno and Rockwell campuses in Oklahoma City and the Danforth campus in Edmond.

Established in 1979, Francis Tuttle Technology Center offers more than 30 programs tailored to provide hands-on training and individualized instruction to equip every student — from high school students to adults — with the skills and industry-related certifications needed for real-world careers. High school students can enroll at Francis Tuttle tuition-free. Even transportation is provided between participating high schools and Francis Tuttle campuses.

Trying on future careers for size

Carson McCachern, a 2023 graduate of Deer Creek High School, began his journey at Francis Tuttle his sophomore year. He first enrolled in the Computer Science Academy and then moved to the Engineering Academy due to his interest in robotics.

Carson was drawn to the CareerTech programs at Francis Tuttle because of the small class sizes, hands-on lab work and the block scheduling, which allows for longer class periods and classes that typically meet every other day. He says the learning opportunities at Francis Tuttle made him very excited for his future, which includes attending Wichita State University in the fall to major in computer engineering. Carson especially enjoyed his capstone project and time with the robotics team, which earned a spot at the World Competition in Houston, Texas.

Carson’s older brother, Carey McCachern, also attended Francis Tuttle Engineering Academy and currently works as an electrical engineer. Their mom, Cindy McCachern, who’s been a guidance counselor at Deer Creek High School for 23 years, says the early preparation her sons received at Francis Tuttle helped them confirm their career choices and gave them the jump on college coursework.

“They both participated in First Robotics, an amazing STEM program that provides hands-on technology learning through robotics,” said Carey. “Running a robotics program is very expensive and is not always possible at each individual high school. However, students from numerous schools can join the Francis Tuttle team [Roboducks #1561] and benefit from the phenomenal STEM learning programs. Francis Tuttle also offers other academy programs in Computer Science and Biosciences and Medicine. Students who are interested in careers in these fields should definitely consider the many opportunities available to them through Francis Tuttle. In addition to the Academies, there are many career programs for fields as diverse as culinary, woodworking, cosmetology and many more.”

Tracy Skinner, associate superintendent of Francis Tuttle, says there are unique learning experiences available for almost anyone.

“Whether a student is college-bound or wanting to begin a career following high school, we have programs designed to meet those needs,” says Skinner. “We also have courses, like our Pre-Nursing program, available for [high school] juniors and seniors, that serves as a stair step for students to begin working after graduating high school and continue working as they pursue additional training or a college degree.”

Gauge students’ interests early

careertech, francis tuttleSkinner says it’s the “best of both worlds” for high school students to be given the chance to incorporate Francis Tuttle’s career-focused curriculum with their high school studies — and why it’s important for younger students to be given opportunities to explore their interests before beginning high school.

Every summer, Francis Tuttle offers Summer Quest, four weeks of engaging, hands-on activities designed for students ages 11 to 14. Class options during Summer Quest include a variety of subject areas from engineering and aeronautics to writing, painting and photography.

The Francis Tuttle Engineering Academy, at both the Portland and Danforth locations, presents the Engineering Challenge each October for 6th through 9th grade students who are interested in math, science and/or engineering. Participants compete in various design competitions, complete academic exams in math and science and tour the Engineering Academy and Portland campus.

career tech, francis tuttleFrancis Tuttle works closely with area high schools and middle schools, regularly sharing information about available programs and events, but Skinner also encourages and welcomes parents to contact one of the many career advisors on any of the Francis Tuttle campuses to learn more about course offerings and how they might benefit their child’s individual interests.

Carson McCachern understands why some students might be hesitant about attending Francis Tuttle—perhaps being nervous about beginning something new—but he says, “just go for it.”

“I remember being a freshman, not having a lot of self-confidence and hearing rumors about how difficult it might be, but the reality is that the teachers are so well-trained and qualified that they’re able to give a really in-depth explanation of how a concept works—which helps everyone understand things better,” said Carson. “What I’ve learned at Francis Tuttle has been really valuable and I believe I’m better prepared to tackle future challenges because of this experience.”

Learn more about the programs available to high school students, as well as early learning opportunities for middle school students, at francistuttle.edu.

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