Former Superintendents Reflect on 50 Years of CV Tech’s Existence
September 9, 2020 - CV Tech Admin
This relay race has spanned a half-century. The baton has passed from one superintendent to the next just four times in Canadian Valley Technology Center’s 50-year history.
Yet the mission of preparing people to succeed is unchanged. CV Tech stretches beyond the three R’s to focus more specifically on job preparation.
Veteran educator Dr. J.R. Gililland was Canadian Valley’s first employee, hired by a new school board in June 1968. Among his tasks was choosing full-time career programs which best supported the job needs of area businesses. Gililland retired in 1979 and died in 2005. The El Reno Campus seminar center is named in his honor.
Dr. Roy Peters succeeded Gililland and ushered in significant technological advancement. CV Tech students transitioned from using yellow note pads to computers, he said. Peters, 78, resides in Tulsa.
“It really is pretty amazing in 50 years that only five people have been at the helm of this institution,” Peters said. “I have many fond memories of my five years there and am thrilled at how things have only gotten better and better over the years.”
Peters left CV Tech to serve as associate state director at the Oklahoma Department of Career Tech. He then served as state director from 1986-1999, following Dr. Francis Tuttle. He later served as board chair of the Tulsa Development Authority, among others. Peters was inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 2001 and into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame in 2012. Today, he enjoys playing golf. He looks forward to traveling once Covid-19 is under control.
He said he is proud of program and facility expansion while he was at CV Tech and the school’s workforce development efforts in collaboration with area businesses.
Cowan Replaces Peters
One-time CV Tech welding instructor Dr. Earl Cowan replaced Peters in 1984. Cowan, 81, of Bethany, worked 38 of his 46 years in education at Canadian Valley. The Yukon campus is named in his honor.
His hobbies in retirement include hunting and keeping the 1940 Mercury coupe he restored in top condition for car shows. Cowan was inducted into the CareerTech Hall of Fame in 2011.
“The school is and continues to be a terrific asset to the communities it serves, and I am proud to have been a part of it,” he said.
Cowan focused on expansion. He also pushed for the Yukon campus to better serve the rapid population growth in east Canadian County, which Census Bureau data shows was among the top 30 fastest growing counties in the U.S. since 2010.
“I am so proud of the fact we had substantial enough resources to build a third campus at 15th and Czech Hall,” he said. “We added quite a few program additions as a result. We were able to better serve our constituents.”
Torch Passes to Winters
When Cowan retired in 2008, CV Tech’s Board of Education turned to longtime Career Tech administrator Dr. Greg Winters, who was hired as a CV Tech industrial coordinator a year earlier.
Winters, 67, of Piedmont, served until his retirement in 2018.
Among his achievements was establishing a wind energy technician training program in 2010.
“At the time, there was not one wind tower in our district,” Winters said. “The next thing you know they started throwing up wind towers all over, including Minco, Calumet, Okarche, Piedmont and Rush Springs.”
The school was named in 2013 as the No. 1 workplace in Oklahoma for mid-size businesses as recognized by Workplace Dynamics and The Oklahoman newspaper. This was on the heels of a large tornado, which destroyed all of the buildings on the school’s El Reno Campus in May 2013. An alternate site was found quickly in order for school to begin the next Fall.
“When you move 130 employees in 72 days into an abandoned car dealership and open school on time as promised, get your head around that,” Winters said. “Everybody always gives me credit, but it was our staff that did the impossible, and I’m really proud of that.
“I was unrelenting following the tornado, and I know that. At the end of the day if I hadn’t done that – if I’d given one sliver of an idea we weren’t doing that – we wouldn’t have pulled it off. The most resilient group of people I had ever worked with was at Canadian Valley.”
Winters now retired in 2018 and now particularly enjoys time with family, completing woodworking projects and traveling.
He was succeeded by Dr. Gayla Lutts, of Yukon, who has worked 21 years at CV Tech in various roles. Lutts said she is honored to follow in the footsteps of these three men.
“The importance of our past superintendents having a passion for and spending their entire careers in Career Tech education,” she said. “They established a firm foundation that we are able to build upon. Our goal is still the same today, ensuring quality programs that meet community, business and industry and workforce demands.”
Former CV Tech superintendents, Drs. Roy Peters, Earl Cowan and Greg Winters, sport a commemorative 50th Anniversary T-shirt. The school opened in 1970.