Training for the future

Skyleen Willingham and Courtney Norton go over the checklist for their project during the orientation workshop. Ten Okmulgee teachers worked at local manufacturing facilities and will share their knowledge and experience with their students when class resumes.

Okmulgee teachers get hands-on experience


Times Editor


Finding good quality employees is important. Finding those people right here in Okmulgee is equally important.

A program, now in it’s third year, is helping Okmulgee teachers understand advanced manufacturing in Okmulgee and then share that knowledge with their students.

 The Teachers' Manufacturing In-plant Experience  is a collaboration between The Okmulgee Area Plant Managers' Association, Okmulgee Area Development Corporation, and the Okmulgee Public Schools.  

The local manufacturers participating this year were CPKelco, PolyVision, Covington Aircraft, and PACCAR Winch and Thompson Pump. 

Former OADC director Dr. Bob Klabenes is working in conjunction with the local manufacturers and school district in the project.

The Okmulgee Public School teachers in the program are Skyleen Willingham, David Dunlap, Aaron Wilson, Denise Bowen, Candy Padfield, Danny Hodge, Mariah Price, Courtney Norton, Angela Johnson and Tim Taylor.

Last week, teachers attended an orientation workshop where they discussed the manufacturing and what each facility produces. 

“Teachers were asked to assume the roles of different positions in a manufacturing process,” teacher Mariah Price said.  “In their various roles, they complete a mock process of manufacturing a laptop stand. This helps them experience a broad overview of the manufacturing process before they actually enter the plants and experience that plant’s specifics.”

Each of the teachers will work with mentor(s) at one of the manufacturing plants for a 24-hour internship. 

After the program is complete, teachers will create lesson plans to help students learn both the technical side of manufacturing and 'soft' skills required for a successful employee. The teachers also share their information with the plant managers to help in their training programs.

“It’s a great way to get our teacher brains churning so that we can absorb all the possibilities of local, real-world applications and skill sets to bring into our classrooms,” Price said.

The objective is to help students understand that good jobs are available in advanced manufacturing in Okmulgee and want to pursue a job at one of the plants here and stay local.  

This knowledge will also open up many doors to careers and job opportunities possibly all over the world. 

Manufacturing jobs are no longer the dirty, dangerous jobs that have been associated with them in years past. Today modern manufacturing plants demand a highly-educated workforce that can use new and emerging technologies to produce a mixture of products that are put to use worldwide.


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