Monday, March 25, 2013

Robert Sommers: New State Director for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education

Robert Sommers

This week starts a new direction for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education as Robert Sommers of Middletown, Ohio begins his tenure as the new state director.

I have to admit that I like a recent Tweet of his, "CareerTech in Oklahoma is impressive. Great economic development tool and a relevance provider for students!" I also have to admit that I'm excited about the future of CTE in Oklahoma as a new state director typically creates change and, although uncomfortable at times for many of us, change affords us the opportunity to learn and to grow as individuals. That is really what this blog is about anyway... lifelong learning and creating new opportunities for each of you, for your students, your business and industry clients, and your stakeholders.

Please read below for more information on Robert Sommers:
Sommers recently served as chief executive officer/managing partner of Carpe Diem Learning Systems, the organization created to grow the high-performing, cost-effective Carpe Diem model nationally. This model uses digital content and teaching faculty to create a personalized blended learning education experience. Sommers was responsible for opening a Carpe Diem school in Indianapolis.

"We are extremely fortunate to have in Oklahoma's CareerTech System someone of Bob Sommers' vision and proven track record of improving student performance," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Career and Technology Education Board Chair Janet Barresi. "He has 15 years experience in supervision and leadership in Ohio's career-technical education and has collaborated with Ohio Gov. John Kasich on the creation and passage of major educational reforms for improved student performance and cost effectiveness. His vision for the future of the Career and Technology System in our state is forward thinking and exciting. I look forward to working with him."

For nine years Sommers was CEO/superintendent of an Ohio career-technical district, Butler Technology and Career Development Schools, in Hamilton, Ohio. Under his leadership, the district doubled in size, became the highest performing career-technical district in Ohio and became known for creative educational programs including blended learning schools. The district served more than 26,000 high school through adult students and provided customized training to companies.

From 1986 to 2001, Sommers served in several capacities with the Ohio Department of Education. He served as an agricultural supervisor, state adviser for the FFA, assistant director of program evaluation services and associate director overseeing federal career-technical funding programs and the creation of a new Ohio career-technical funding system.

Sommers’ teaching experience included agricultural education in London, Ohio.

Sommers' work as director of Ohio’s Office of 21st Century Education included passage of reforms for increased school performance transparency, teacher evaluation, school choice and failing school transformation. His experience also includes serving as CEO of Cornerstone Charter Schools, where he led two K-8th-grade schools under management and two more schools under development. He designed the Cornerstone Health High School, a blended learning school that opened in fall 2012.

He earned a doctorate in educational administration and leadership from The Ohio State University, Columbus, where he also completed his master’s degree in agricultural education. Sommers received a bachelor of science degree in education at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and has received several education and business awards in Ohio. His service in leadership positions in numerous state and national organizations, including the chairman of the Performance Taskforce for the National Association of Career and Technical Education, is additional evidence of his commitment to his profession.

“I am excited about the opportunities before Oklahoma’s CareerTech System ,” Sommers said. “Oklahoma’s career and technology educators have led the country in creating innovative programs. I’m confident we will continue this tradition of innovation. I look forward to working with the board, the staff and the state’s career and technology educators in assuring every Oklahoman a quality career, every business a quality workforce and Oklahoma a great educational system."

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