Happy 85th Birthday OTC! In 1933 a new OCPS facility opened under the name of Orlando Vocational School.
Over the decades, and through different expansions, the school and its campuses would undergo several name changes, such as Orange County Vocational School, Mid Florida Technical Institute, Westside Vocational Technical Center, Winter Park Tech, OTEC Orlando Tech, and OCPS Tech Centers until finally landing on its current, and hopefully forever name, Orange Technical College-one college with multiple campuses. While the institution name and those working to serve others have changed time and again, one thing has remained constant since 1933-our commitment to Changing Lives Through Education! I hope you will join us this year as we celebrate 85 years of making a difference in this community.
With that being said, we received a great “birthday” present this past month when I met with my counterpart at Valencia College, Nasser Hedayat, for our monthly breakfast. We have been meeting for five years now and have worked collaboratively to make articulation from OTC to VC as seamless as possible and to engage more students in the process of moving from our certificate programs to an AS Degree. For historical perspective, Technical Colleges and State Colleges were at battle for decades for funding, programming, institution names and just about everything else. However, here in Orange County through strong leaders like Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, and Dr. Sandy Shugart, President of Valencia College, that has not been the case. Instead we have not only worked together to create a strong educational ecosystem here in Central Florida, we have taken it to a new level-a level not seen in too many places. Three years ago we moved to create an enhanced partnership entitled TECH EXPRESS which would make it easier for students to move from one institution to the other, taking articulated credits with them.
This process had existed for many years in various forms, but with little success. In the previous five years, we had 6 students actually articulate and enroll in a VC Associate of Science Degree from OTC. Thanks to a commitment on both sides, that number this past year alone has moved to 246 students! Yes, you read that right-246 students moved seamlessly from OTC to VC, taking up to 28 credits with them on their way to earning an AS Degree to add to the Industry Credentials already earned through completion of a program at one of our campuses-now that really is a great OTC birthday present! We opened our doors and Valencia invested by putting TECH EXPRESS Advisors on each of our campuses, working with students as they complete their programs with us to get them to continue on, in their educational journey. What a great way to start our 85th birthday celebration! Collaboration beats competition every time, when it comes to providing a skilled workforce here in Central Florida!
Pictured left to right are Samantha Donlan, Robin Oliver, Anita Gentz and Lisa Bliss
85 years of making a difference is something we are proud of and so we will be sharing stories throughout the upcoming year to highlight alumni whose lives were changed for the better through what we do at OTC thanks to the great educators who work every day to make sure that there are high quality options for all. From a personal perspective, as I start my sixth year in this role, I took a little time to think back to the leaders who have served in this capacity during my 31-year tenure in OCPS-names like Joe Stephens, Jim Subbs, Tom Runnels, Janet Adair, Susan Moxley, Bonnie Marmor, Jan Pratt and others I may be missing. Each one did their part to move CTE forward and to help get us to this point in time. This is an amazing institutional journey and despite name changes, personnel changes and other changes-85 years is a legacy reached by very few up to this point here in Central Florida and something that we are all blessed to be a part of in some small way or another. Thank you for your support of CTE and for helping us to celebrate this 85th year!
Have a great CTE month! Mike.