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CareerTech Association Presents Cash Awards to Top Educators at Summer Conference

Shelley Free honored as OkACTE Bob Funk Advocate of Excellence

OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 2, 2021) – At the annual Oklahoma CareerTech Summit on Monday, the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education (OkACTE) presented cash awards to outstanding Oklahoma CareerTech educators. The awards ceremony took place at the Oklahoma City Convention Center and was made possible by Robert A. Funk, Sr., president of Express Employment Professionals, who donated the funds for each award category. This year’s prizes totaled $27,500 for the following categories:

· OkACTE Teacher of the Year – $10,000 awarded to Leslie Powell, Kiamichi Technology Center

· OkACTE Postsecondary Teacher of the Year – $7,500 awarded to Nancy Howell, Great Plains Technology Center

· OkACTE New Teacher of the Year - $5,000 awarded to Lorain McKay, Moore Norman Technology Center

· OkACTE Support Staff Member of the Year - $5,000 awarded to Lisa Symsack, Tulsa Technology Center

“CareerTech plays an increasingly critical role in economic and workforce development in our state,” Funk said. “CareerTech teachers and support staff have the difficult task of shaping the next generation of our workforce, which is especially important in today’s economy where businesses across the nation are having difficulty finding skilled applicants to fill open positions. The four educators we recognized today are to be commended for their extraordinary efforts to help their students be successful in the workplace.” Additionally, the OkACTE Bob Funk Advocate of Excellence award was presented by Bob Funk, Jr., senior vice president of sales and corporate development for Express Employment Professionals, and was awarded to Kiamichi Technology Center Superintendent Shelley Free. “Shelley has been instrumental in our advocacy efforts this year,” said OkACTE Executive Director Skye McNiel. “She is always willing to engage and participate in the tough conversations and has worked extremely hard to build solid relationships with her area legislators. She is a team player and always wants to do what’s best for the entire CareerTech system. She has certainly earned this award and recognition.” This is the seventh year that Funk, Sr. has donated cash awards to distinguished teachers and staff within Oklahoma CareerTech. About OkACTE OkACTE is the professional association for the state's CareerTech administrators, teachers and staff members. ODCTE provides leadership and resources to the CareerTech System of nearly 400 public school districts, 29 technology centers with 58 campus sites, 13 skills centers in correctional facilities and 28 adult learning centers with 52 sites.

For more information about OkACTE, visit

For more information about Oklahoma CareerTech, visit


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