Our mission is "Training To Succeed!" This mission is more than simple words. Our students work hard to develop skills that will launch them into promising careers or give them a leg-up in continuing their education. We celebrate their accomplishments and want to tell their stories.
Photo Credit: Tomie Tollett
(PTC IT Student)
Photo Credit: Brianna Kirk
(PTC IT Student)
Anna Whiting is training with the 2022-2023 Fire Academy class at Pontotoc Technology Center. When asked why she chose firefighter training, she says, “I started college in nursing and really liked the medical aspects of it, but it [college] seemed confining. I really am more of a hands-on learner.” Realizing this about herself, Whiting started investigating the Paramedic option as maybe a better match to what she wanted to accomplish. As she dug into her options, she found the Fire Academy at PTC. After talking with the instructor and others, she knew this was where she needed to be.
Describing what initially caught her interest in this training, she says, “I’ve always loved the first responder emergency aspects of medicine. I rock-climb and rappel, so the rescue side of this program also really fascinates me…and obviously fire is pretty awesome.”
Whiting and her family live on their working farm in Chile. With her dad and brother working away from home a lot, she’s no stranger to the hard work required to keep the farm running smoothly.
Asked about her favorite part of the Fire Academy, she replies “It’s hard to say but I would say actually doing the things we’ll be doing in the field. Like, what we’re doing today I’m really enjoying because we’re practicing the actual steps of responding to a fire. We all get on the hose, we’ll radio our commands in, then we run into the burning building and spray it down and keep repeating it until we get it just right.”
There are a few elements of the training she finds more challenging than others. “The toughest part is definitely the heat. You get out here and it’s 104 degrees and you have your bunker gear on and you’re running the stairs, and…that’s definitely the hardest part,” she says with a bit of a laugh. “You feel like you can’t make it, but then you do…and you feel really accomplished!”
What’s next for Anna? She’s excited about exploring her options! “I can’t really give you a solid answer on what’s next. I’m still trying to figure that out because I really like what I’m learning and so I would love to work with it.” She’s not without direction though, as she explains, “I have a ton of options and I love it! I’m thinking of joining the Bomberros (volunteer firefighters) back home in Chile, or actually working as a firefighter for a while to gain experience. I’m also considering working in wildland firefighting. A lot of them work seasonally and they work in the states in the Summer, but then they’re free to return home in the off season. I’m thinking of going into Paramedic training also. The Fire Academy leads to EMT, which is a prerequisite for becoming a Paramedic, but there are a few extra steps to get to the Paramedic level.”
After 10-months in the HVAC program at Pontotoc Technology Center (PTC) during the 2021-2022 school year, student Justin Martin immediately landed a great job with Shaver Plumbing, Heating and Air, LLC. Martin has since moved to Cool Daddy’s Heat & Air. He recently returned to PTC to speak with students about his experience inside and outside the classroom and provide a little motivation for those just now starting their journey.
Martin’s membership in SkillsUSA has been one of the highlights of his experience at PTC. Competing at District (and winning Gold) he was also a State level qualifier. His membership introduced him to other opportunities as well, which led to him receiving a 2022 Clifford “Ted” Rees Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by SkillsUSA and the Air-Condition, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). This one time scholarship allowed Justin to apply $2,500 towards his tuition. However, since his tuition was already paid (through other scholarships), he was approved to use the money to purchase tools to help him grow his business.
HVAC Instructor, Michael Beach, says, “Justin definitely sets the bar high by being so involved in SkillsUSA and achieving the success he has through scholarships, but his success in the workplace, getting a good paying job with the knowledge and skills he received from PTC is the expectation for my students, not the exception. I’m very proud of Justin and all my students and their successes.”
Martin says about his chosen field, “I love working with my hands, troubleshooting issues, and helping people. When asked if he could share something unexpected about his experience, he says, “Be ready for hot days!”
(Fall 2021) Imagine running a business responsible for welding massive steel structures that will do amazing tasks in roadwork, farming, and other applications. Now, you need to find a welder. What kind of person would you expect to walk through your door? Well, they’d have to be skilled, hard working, and responsible. They’d also have to be ready to work hard and do whatever it takes to get the job done each and every day…right? Would you be thinking of an 18-year-old girl two days after her high school graduation?
If not, you’d have missed out on an amazing employee!
Sadie Khoury walked through that door at Cammond Industries and because of the skills she developed during her time at PTC, has been able to produce quality products, meet quotas, and even pick up extra work from time to time when the company has increased demand.
When asked how she found out about the opportunity, Khoury shared that she first recommended the owner come through the PTC shop and see the training in action. After he realized she was developing the kinds of skills needed for his business, she said, “He called me up one day and said, ‘I need a welder, get down here.’” She continued, “I started working two days after I graduated high school.” Now, more than a year later, she’s has some seniority in the shop and even enjoys helping new welders as they join the team.
When asked what advice she’d give for someone just starting out in the welding industry, Khoury says, “Be teachable, don’t act like you know everything. Even if you think you know it all, you probably don’t. There’s always something to learn. Keep a level head, slow down and think through the work if you have to. I also had a lot of people underestimate me because I’m a girl. For women, even if you’re not physically able to heavy lift, there are so many different welding jobs that don’t require heavy lifting.”
Khoury shouldn’t be underestimated going forward and has certainly proven herself in the industry. She is the embodiment of one of our values here at PTC. She is fearless, a proactive innovator, and a bold leader!
(Fall 2021) What if you owned a business and needed to find an employee who can work on vehicles, solve interesting mechanical challenges, weld, fabricate, and all that with a hunger to learn new things every day to make your business better? How difficult would it be to find such an employee?
Jordan Melville, PTC Automotive Program Alumni and current Welding program student, recently began working at Powerlift in Ada.
“I was working in my welding booth one day, and Jim Lawson (BIS Coordinator at PTC) stopped by and asked if I had a moment to talk. He said he knew of a job that might be a perfect fit for the skills I’ve built over the years at PTC.”
In this case, the right skills and talent combined with long-held relationships and cross-program cooperation allowed Jim Lawson, Business and Industry Services Coordinator, to match a local company staffing need with a highly qualified, driven, and talented employee. “This is what it’s all about. I love it when all the pieces fit together and quality training turns into a career opportunity for a deserving student. It’s always nice to bring such a high value service to our industry partners as well,” says Jim.
Melville has worked hard to be where he is today. A dedication to developing skills in areas he is passionate about will pay off for him in the long run. Having built a solid foundation, Jordan represents PTC’s core values quite well. Service with respect, Integrity in always doing what’s right, commitment with dedication, and he is fearlessly proactively pursuing his future.
(Fall 2021) - While PTC is an amazing place to find opportunity, build skills, and train for success, we’re also committed to anticipating needs and educating our customers to provide a trained workforce in Oklahoma. Certainly in this story, these two ideals compliment each other quite well.
Recently, Information Technology student, David Balliet began working for Ada Custom Memorials and Granite.
In this case, the right skills and talent combined with long-held relationships and cross-program cooperation allowed Jim Lawson, Business and Industry Services Coordinator, to match a local company staffing need with a highly qualified, driven, and talented employee. "It really is a win/win arrangement for everyone involved," says Jim.
When asked about his preparation, Balliet says, “I feel PTC has equipped me well to be able to do this job. They taught me the skills I needed in order to perform well and effectively.” Even better, he says, “I get to do what I have always loved doing and I get paid for it. I have always loved art but have always found graphics to be the best way for me to do it. I feel like this job will be a great start for my graphic design career.”
Like most opportunities, you’ll get as much out of it as what you put into it. David used his time at PTC wisely to develop talent, achieve certifications, and build in-demand skills employers want. Now, he’s well on his way to building the graphic design career he’s always wanted.
(Spring 2019) After a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, two years of college and an unsatisfying job in the oil and gas industry, Buddy Pearce needed a new challenge. He said the most exciting thing he could imagine was to be a firefighter, so he sold his Harley-Davidson motorcycle for tuition money and enrolled in the 20-week fire academy at Pontotoc Technology Center. Buddy said his instructors at Pontotoc:
Buddy said his instructors inspired him so much he began working part-time as an instructor for the academy.
“The instructors prepared us not only for the fire service, but also to lead successful lives,” he said.
Buddy served four years with the Seminole Fire Department. He left Oklahoma to accept a position with the Antarctic Fire Department, the only full-time professional fire department in Antarctica. He is deployed six to seven months a year at McMurdo Station, a U.S.-managed scientific research station. He returns to Oklahoma between contracts.
“I am now skilled enough in my craft that I have been able to follow my dreams,” he said.“I absolutely use the skills I acquired at Pontotoc Technology Center every day of my life."
Buddy Pearce, Antarctic firefighter