Shop class at Minco High School in the 1980s provided a connection for Jimmie Vickrey. School mattered more than ever, and a teacher made the difference.
“Francis Gililland was not your typical teacher,” Vickrey said. “He taught hands-on, practical stuff. I still use the things he taught every day.”
Vickrey sowed his future in agriculture and in cattle. He purchased a wheat farm while still in school. Thirty-some years later, he still smiles each time somebody asks about the next harvest. Lifelong learning occurred by the bushel and by the bull.
He is one of five locally elected Canadian Valley Technology Center board of education members, each tasked with ensuring that the educational opportunities provided result in student success.
January is School Board Recognition month as declared by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. It is a salute to more than 2,700 school board members statewide.
Boards of education play critical roles by providing the public a voice in public education, said fellow CV Tech board member Dean Riddell, a mortgage lender who lives in Yukon.
“I think we’re all called to serve in some capacity,” Riddell said. “Obviously, seeing classroom achievement is also something I enjoy.”
CV Tech’s board meets every second Tuesday of the month to govern the school, which encompasses a 1,500 square-mile district area in mostly Canadian and Grady counties of central Oklahoma. The school was founded in 1970 and includes campuses in Chickasha, El Reno and Yukon.
Penny Jones, a Mustang homemaker, said she joined the board of education, because she wanted to help students make their career dreams a reality.
“Serving on a school board helps open doors for people seeking to find their niche in life,” Jones said.
Fellow member Christy Stanley, a Yukon Real Estate professional, said boards of education are intended to hold schools accountable to the community by advocating improvement in student learning. Stanley began serving on CV Tech’s school board in 2016.
“I decided to join the board because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people,” she said. “I loved hearing what was going on at CV Tech and wanted to be a part of it.”
There is no pay provided to CV Tech’s board members. Serving results in periodic professional development, routine meetings and attending school functions. There is considerable reading and studying involved in order to be an informed participant, said board member Travis Posey, of Chickasha.
“That’s all to be expected, but I really believe in what the school does,” he said. “Being in manufacturing, I have learned that knowing a technical trade is very important. I also think making sure the school is functioning at a high level is critical.
“The school and our company have worked together for as long as I can remember. I know for sure it’s been 30-plus years. It’s a classic example of how Canadian Valley becomes a great partner with area businesses. Now I am giving back in a board capacity, and it is an honor.”
Superintendent Dr. Gayla Lutts said mission buy-in is the critical need for all school boards.
“I am fortunate and blessed to work with a board in which all members’ vision and purpose of the school aligns with the stated mission, which is to prepare people to succeed through quality career and technical education programs and services,” she said.
“As a new superintendent, I am confident of each member’s support as we focus on building a culture of continuous improvement. I am so thankful for our board of education this month and throughout the year.”