Kent Burris was hired as the fifth superintendent for Central Technology Center. He begins his new position on July 1, 2022.
Joe Naifeh, board president of Central Tech said, “Kent meets all educational and internal operation qualifications to lead our school. He is well liked by the Central Tech staff, respected by his peers throughout the Oklahoma CareerTech system, and at the state capital. The board is excited for the continuing success of Central Tech under Kent’s leadership and guidance.”
Burris brings extensive leadership and administrative experience to his position. He began his career at Central Tech in January 1990. He channels his passion for rural economic development through Central Tech and many civic organizations. As a Cushing City Commissioner, Burris helped bring a 960-bed private correctional facility and a new municipal swimming pool to Cushing.
“I consider it a privilege to have been appointed as the new superintendent. Central Tech has earned a reputation for positively changing lives and ensuring all students have an opportunity to achieve success. I am committed to building upon current practices, empowering staff, and assisting our communities in the development of a quality workforce that boosts the economy,” said Central Tech Superintendent, Kent Burris.
As an example, Burris conveys, to make students more employable, Central Tech added commercial driver’s license (CDL) to the Diesel and Lineman curriculum through their Truck Driver Training program. The administration feels there are other applications for similar relationships and will be looking for more ways to increase student skill sets.
“I wholeheartedly value the programs and services in place, and I’m committed to ensuring that current and future students have opportunities to explore their interest and find their passion,” Burris said.
Burris shares some of his ideas that will continue to move the tech center forward.
Central Tech feels they do a great job reaching students once they enter the ninth grade, yet they’ve realized young children aren’t exposed to different career paths. They may know what their parents do for a living but don’t realize all the opportunities in front of them. Burris believes reaching children at an earlier age will allow Central Tech to provide exploration and career guidance.
Tech partners with 18 high schools in the district and is seen as an extension of their curriculum. Some students choose classes that lead to careers, while others see it as an elective or academic credit for graduation. It is also a great opportunity for students in smaller schools who may not have the opportunity to take such classes.
“Even with the district’s many strengths, this transition of leadership presents an opportunity for positive change and for the district to become even better in the coming years,” said Burris.
He goes on to say this is a good opportunity to review our organizational chart and make sure it accurately reflects today’s communication style for our district. As organizations grow, it’s easy to become siloed and focus on serving the needs of your own department. Making sure each department has a connection with the others will close the loop on any isolation.
Central Tech believes education and services are circular, as everyone should be lifelong learners. Simply put,
- Central Tech educates students who will graduate and join the workforce.
- Central Tech becomes a resource for growing companies to hire Central Tech graduates.
- Businesses partner with Central Tech to train their workforce through an addition and/or advancement of skills.
- Businesses partner with Tech by serving as an advisor to the class and helping determine employability skills and curriculum needs for the industry.
- Central Tech builds higher market penetration and hopes to one day be a partner to all industries and every business in the district.
Burris states “We have even more potential in economic development and opportunities to create economic engines in each of our communities through business incubators.”
Business and Industry Services along with Employment Services departments are in place to plug into communities and schools with career exploration, workforce development, and economic growth.
They are looking at current workforce needs, will be enhancing opportunities for future graduates, and are already researching what programs will be needed by industry that match student interest.
This fall Central Tech will open a lineman and a plumbing program. These high demand jobs provide industry certifications that give graduates a quicker route to journeyman. Once research, including advisory input, is complete, more programs will be added over the next several years.
“I believe under Mr. Burris’ leadership we will see continued growth in the programs and services that reflect the needs of our communities’ businesses and industries,” said Mark Cotner, assistant superintendent of Central Tech.
It’s a continuous cycle that requires constant feedback from the community and business leaders. When done effectively, Central Tech reaches businesses sometimes before the business knows they need a service.
Burris is looking forward to the coming years. He says, “It’s great to be part of such commitment to excellence which comes from the strong sense of pride in our staff.”
He sees Central Tech as the destination of choice when it comes to a place to work. He wants to take it to the next level by investing in all staff, encouraging participation in professional organizations, and increasing staff/family relationships.
It’s an exciting time for Central Tech and for the communities as they push forward to become the best workforce provider.
“We know the school will continue to achieve Gold Star status, remain a Top Workplace in Oklahoma, and a top technology center in the country,” said Naifeh.