Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SkillsUSA Forensics and Security Chapter, Mentoring et al.

Why Tulsa Tech-Peoria's Skills USA?

At the Mayor’s Mentoring Breakfast at the end of February, Richard Stewart, an instructor in criminal justice as well as a SkillsUSA advisor at Tulsa Tech, talked about his students’ community service and mentorship. Excitement prompted a visit a week later. Stewart’s students exhibited poise, confidence and pleasance. Called upon randomly, they spoke articulately and passionately. What they are learning and doing inspires.

Hands-On Approach
This peer and group mentoring model works effectively through research and hands-on activities to prepare criminal justice students for the workplace and citizenship. By building relationships, the Career Tech students show how to break crime in northeast Tulsa. They are mentors but also mentees.

Mentoring Background
For three years through Tulsa Regional Chamber’s Partners in Education program, members of Stewart’s Skills USA Forensics and Security Chapter have partnered with Tulsa’s Hawthorne Elementary School. In March 2014, his group adopted McClain Eighth Grade Center.

Community Service Wish
According to Stewart, the Tulsa Chief of Police, Chuck Jordan, said that the academy would teach recruits how to handcuff, process a crime scene, and such, but he “would like to see young people come out with a heart to serve and some integrity.” Stewart has incorporated Jordan’s wish as curriculum.

Richard Stewart & the "SkillsUSA Awards Wall"
Community Service Action

The chapter delivers community service in a number of ways. For instance, box top collecting, developing an Angel Tree event, and creating an Easter egg hunt directly benefit Hawthorne. The chapter collected 350 pounds of nonperishable food for Tulsa's John 3:16 Mission last year. For Tulsa’s 2013 BOOHAHA Parade, the criminal justice team built a float, from which members threw 400 pounds of candy they provided. Another service component is education.

Learn First, Teach Others                                        
Students demonstrate to their mentees and others handcuffing, finger printing, lifting latent fingerprints, writing a report, collecting evidence, and photographing and sketching a crime scene.  To promote Drug Awareness Month, chapter members learn PowerPoint to create their own Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) presentations.  A Prezi, a cloud-based presentation, illustrates for older students the dangers of methamphetamine. 
Sticker created for D.A.R.E. 

Health fairs and demonstrations can also involve cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. Monkey brains add realism and drama. Chapter members have even researched and taught diversity to dispatchers. Opportunities to learn and teach are endless and imaginative.

Encouraging Future Careers
For northeast Tulsa, this SkillsUSA unit hosts a Career Tech fair. This event showcases different careers available in area tech centers during high school and after graduation.

Twelve-Month Calendar
Since the beginning, the criminal justice group has a twelve-month calendar. After formation, for example, the students began feeding the homeless in July.

Networking with Professionals
Creative hands-on learning and benefiting the public often allow students to “hang out” with or assist active personnel from law enforcement, emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA), fire, and other civil agencies. These professionals also mentor the Career Tech mentors. The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and the Bixby Police Department are principal partners.

"Real" Projects
Detailed research and often certification precede some projects such as vehicle inspections, occupational health and safety inspections, presentations about alcohol compliance, and providing event security.  Workplace inspections include a local salon, the Tulsa County Courthouse, and the Dick Conner Correctional Center in Hominy.

A Shop with a Cop partner, the Forensics and Security Chapter members meet the officers and wrap the packages behind the scenes. Working with the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABEL) officers, these students have been the sting actors. Chapter members hosted the Bixby Citizens Police Academy at Tulsa Tech-Peoria. The experience of the chapter’s spending time with law enforcement and then bonding in the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics can simply not be measured.

These highly motivated and overachieving ambassadors of excellence represent Tulsa, Career Tech, and their instructor admirably. With intention, Richard Stewart uses his knowledge, heart, imagination and network to shape the community beyond his class and chapter. SkillsUSA Forensics and Security Chapter, Tulsa Tech-Peoria, is a model of dual mentoring, community service, and education.

On April 13, 2014, Richard Stewart resigned his commission as a Bixby Police Officer because he won election for the Bixby City Council position. He has applied to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, for which he has worked previously.  

Photo credit from the, South County Leader

Ret. 2-28-14

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