High Plains Technology Center’s Business and Information Technology program offers complete and thorough education in the business field. Instructors Evelynn Morris and Penny Guthrie are strategizing and working together to provide the best program in the state.

The program, which is geared toward both career directed individuals as well as the college bound students, offers occupational certifications in the areas of web design, business administration, payroll, bookkeeping and customer service.

Morris, who has been teaching at HPTC for the past 16 years, said she did not intend on teaching when she started college at Oklahoma Christian College - she actually got her degree in secretarial science and business administration.

“I worked in the city as a legal secretary for about a year and a half and I decided that’s not what I really wanted to do in life - certainly not for the rest of my life,” Morris said. “So, I went back to school and I decided that I would try teaching.”

Morris teaches the accounting portion of the program - record keeping, accounting, Quick Books, Quicken and also things like business letter writing, telephone communications, transcriptions and all the simulations - accounting simulations and business simulations. She said that the simulations are basically packets that allow the students to pretend they are working for a specific company with specific duties to perform. She said there is an employee manual they must learn and as the weeks go on, they are expected to know more and more - just like a regular job.

She said a lot has changed in the past 16 years - especially the technology.

“When I first started out here, we still had electric typewriters and the floppy disks that really flopped,” she laughed. “The computers and the technology has definitely changed the most ... we are now doing more things with computers and online.”

The instructors also work with an advisory committee that is made up of parents of past and present students, instructors from participating high schools, business people and others that give them advice and tips on the type of people they are looking for when hiring employees.

“The major thing we ask of them is what do we need to do and what are you looking for in employees,” said Guthrie. “So, by having a variety of people in our committee, we then have a variety of different types of information that we can draw from to make our program better.”

Guthrie grew up in Sharon, going to school at Sharon-Mutual Schools. During her junior and senior years, she attended the same program at HPTC that she now teaches. She said it was there that she decided to become a teacher.

“The teacher at the time was the person who probably saw something in me that I didn’t see,” recalled Guthrie. “She really encouraged me to go to college and apply for scholarships - that was really the reason why I decided to become a teacher.”

She originally started college to become an accountant, beginning her college career at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. She soon changed her mind and wanted to become a teacher.

“I really like to be around people more and just being able to have a career that you have an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life is great,” she said. She got her bachelor’s degree from SWOSU and her master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. After graduating from the university, she worked at Wright Business School in Oklahoma City, then Enid High School and then Autry Tech in Enid. She has been teaching now for the past 14 years - the past four of which she has taught at HPTC.

“There’s advantages to both systems (high school and tech centers), but you don’t realize the work that goes into a technology center . . . we’re not just teaching . . . you have to know from page one to the end of that curriculum what you’re teaching because you have to be ready to answer any questions,” she said.

Between the two instructors, they teach over 60 different classes. Morris said the hardest part usually for high school students in the program is learning to manage their time because they have grown accustomed to the high school method of teaching instead of working at their own pace like they do at the CareerTech.

“They are basically on their own a lot to produce as much as they can as quickly as they can,” said Morris. “Sometimes that is difficult for them to learn to manage their time. Some of them will just go through here and give 200 percent and then some of them struggle at giving 50 percent because they are getting used to this certain way of learning.”

College credit can also acquired while attending the program - up to 46 hours that can be used at Northern Oklahoma College in Enid or OSU-Okmulgee.

“Out here, you learn what you want to because you want to,” said Woodward High School junior Jessica Hoffert. “It is self-paced. Coming out here is great for college - I already have 15 college credit hours.”

Guthrie’s main focus of teaching in the program is web design, career development, resumes and those types of things.

“I chose this program because I wanted to keep up with the technology,” said adult student Mario Perez. “I am doing web design - I love it and it is a great way to express yourself. Without a degree, it is hard to get other work. I plan to start my own business in the web and graphic design area.”

The two women do not consider themselves as individual teachers, but as a team that makes the program work so well.

“I feel very blessed to be able to work with her,” said Guthrie of Morris. Morris then said the exact same thing about her partner-instructor.

“It takes both of us together to make the program so incredible,” said Morris.

Guthrie also works hard every year taking their students to state competitions and national competitions. Over the past four years, they have had several state winners and the past three years she has taken students to the national competitions.

This year, she will be taking four students to Orlando, Fla. to attend the national competitions there. She said that most people are amazed at how many awards the HPTC students receive at the competitions because they go up against the larger CareerTechs in the state - such as Tulsa and Oklahoma City CareerTechs.

“I couldn’t have done this without the two teachers guiding me,” said adult student LaRee Cannon, who started out in the accounting portion of the program and is now in the customer service division. “I want to work for a company that I can grow within the customer service field. Customer service allows me to multi-task and I love that.”

The program has also won several community service awards as well - they participate in all types of community events with their BPA members. They are currently getting ready for one of their biggest fundraisers - their spaghetti luncheon - on April 27 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The members will deliver meals to local businesses who have five or more orders that day as well. All proceeds will go toward helping to fund their national competition trip. To place orders for that day, contact Guthrie at 571-6133.

Both instructors live in Woodward - Morris having two sons and a grandson and Guthrie has a three-year-old daughter, Jo Lee Grace.

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