Greater Tulsa Reporter
STUDENT RECOVERY: Tulsa Tech Career Academy instructor Kori Orr works with Tulsa Tech Career Academy high school senior Paola Nunez. The Career Academy is a comprehensive alternative education program that seeks to recover Tulsa-area high school dropouts and those at risk of dropping out.
Courtesy Tulsa Tech
At Tulsa Tech, we encourage each student to “make your own path” and discover the unique journey that will lead to success. For some students, that path leads to Tulsa Tech’s Career Academy, a unique program that helps students reconnect with their educational goals.
The Career Academy is a comprehensive alternative education program that seeks to recover Tulsa-area high school dropouts and those at risk of dropping out. This collaborative effort alongside Tulsa Public Schools intertwines high school credentials or GED preparation and occupational training experiences to disconnected youth. The ultimate goal of this program is to increase the employment opportunities of at-risk youth through educational support and training while creating self-sufficient young adults who contribute to growth and economic development in the Tulsa region.
Dr. Richard Palazzo, Tulsa Tech’s director for alternative education, feels the program represents an opportunity for students seeking a different educational path.
“This program attracts disenfranchised youth that feel disconnected, often alienated from the social and academic life that other students seem to thrive in,” Palazzo says. “The small size of the program and engaging nature of the staff allow students to enjoy a positive connection and a supportive relationship.”
Kori Orr, Career Academy instructor, feels the most common misperception is these are the “bad kids,” when in fact, it is often the complete opposite.
“So many of these students are gifted and talented,” Orr says. “They are kinesthetic learners so they need to be hands-on, in an environment where they can benefit from a little extra one-to-one instruction.”
Career Academy students often benefit from this kinesthetic learning style, where instruction takes place when students carry out physical activities, rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations. This tactile approach combined with the academy’s supportive family environment are critical components to the program’s success.
“The reason the Career Academy works for so many students who have struggled in other classrooms is our foundation of family and respect,” says Orr. “We address the whole child, not only the academics but also the emotional and social needs, and we provide resources that emphasize our strong culture of family.”
To be fair, some of these students have faced challenges or endured an environment that is less than ideal for learning, or personal growth. However, once each student realizes that they are part of the academy family, a member of the team, and most importantly, an individual whose success matters to others, then everything begins to change.
Mark Farrar, Career Academy math instructor, finds his role very rewarding and enjoys being a part of this realization for the students he serves each day.
“These kids really appreciate the help,” Farrar says. “Maybe they need a little extra time to answer a math question, solve a problem, or perhaps discuss something totally unrelated to math. It doesn’t matter, because they soon realize my goal is to help them achieve their goals, and by working together, we will make it, and we will win.”
Students spend half of each day earning high school credits in math, science, English, and social studies through a combination of teacher-led instruction and online, computerized learning. Students are offered credit recovery or “first time” credit courses or assistance for GED exam preparation. The remaining half of each day is spent in a career tech training course available on campuses at Tulsa Tech.
Adrienne Elder, Career Academy science instructor, believes in each of her students regardless of the past as they work together to move forward.
“The most rewarding thing as an instructor is helping each student succeed,” says Elder. “Children who have often been told, at least in part, that they will not succeed, watching these individuals develop self-confidence, achieving both academic and personal goals, as an instructor, it’s just a great feeling. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Career Academy students, like all Tulsa Tech students, work hard to succeed and ultimately are responsible for achieving both their academic and personal goals. They are required to do the work, complete the assignments, and pass the exams in order to succeed. They truly make their own path to success.
If you’re currently looking for exciting classes for high school and adult students, quality customized corporate training, or wish to Make Your Own Path, Tulsa Tech invites you to visit today. For more information, please call 918-828-5000 or visit us online at tulsatech.edu.