The Oklahoman has recognized Meridian Technology Center as a Top Mid-Size Workplace in Oklahoma. This is the ninth year that the school has received this designation.
“We’re mission-focused,” explained Superintendent/CEO Dr. Douglas R. Major. “We’re committed to hiring the best people to help us educate, enrich lives and secure economic futures for residents of our district. The result of that is staff members who bring their best each and every day. Our staff members are what make us a Top Workplace.”
The Top Workplaces designation is based solely on employee feedback. Meridian employees completed a survey created by Energage, LLP, a leading research firm on organizational health and employee engagement. Employees were asked to evaluate the company’s direction, execution of ideas, connectedness to the organization, role satisfaction, supervision and employee benefits.
“This process has never been about earning an award,” Major added. “We view it as a framework that allows our employees to tell us what we’re doing well and areas in which we have room to grow.”
This year’s survey results reflect high support levels for feeling genuinely appreciated, being able to work at full potential and managers who help employees learn and grow.
In 2020 and 2021, the school earned the Top Mid-Size Workplace special recognition. Last year, the school also earned the My Manager Award, recognizing the support that employees report receiving from their supervisors. In 2019, the school was celebrated for Direction – meaning employees shared that they believe Meridian is going in the right direction. In 2016, the school earned honors for its commitment to professional development and training for staff members.
For Information Technology instructor Daniel Devers, what separates Meridian is the emphasis on creating genuine relationships with students and coworkers.
“We have a very relationship-driven culture,” Devers said. “We are committed to the people we serve in the district and each other. When you apply to work here, you can expect that relationships are going to be built from day one.”
Devers added that another area in which the school excels is asking for feedback and implementing changes based on what is learned.
“Not only do leaders value your opinion, but they also value your thought process.”
Devers, now in his twelfth year of teaching, can attest to the school’s commitment to continuous improvement from his role as an instructor and his time here as a student. This effort, he said, is part of why he wanted to return to Tech as an instructor.
“Teaching here is how I can return the favor to everyone who invested in me when I was here as a student,” he explained. “Working here, I know I’m making a difference.”
Cathy Hampton echoed these remarks. “I really like the atmosphere here,” she said. “It’s friendly, and it’s kind of like family.”
Hampton has been with the school for two decades. As one of the more tenured members of the school’s Custodial team, Hampton’s impact extends beyond her job duties. She’s frequently seen on campus talking to students, and students are always happy to see her smile.
“We interact a lot with students in the HiSET program,” she said. “For some reason, there’s just a connection there. They keep us updated with how they are doing on their test prep, and they always let us know when they’ve passed their exam.”
The relationship between students and the school’s staff doesn’t happen by accident. Instructors and support staff have professional development sessions on connecting with students from various backgrounds and the unique challenges they may face. The school’s administrative framework is built around small learning communities that ensure each student has several staff members who work closely with them. These efforts pay off for students and staff.
The Impact of Values-Based Leadership
Meridian’s values are relationships, excellence, innovation, integrity, empowerment and impact. Icons representing these values are located in several campus areas to remind staff and students of the school’s commitment to its mission to “Educate. Enrich lives. Secure economic futures.” In addition to these visual reminders, school leaders and staff routinely connect values to ongoing projects, new initiatives and collaboration. Throughout campus, students and guests have access to values cards available for input on how they have experienced staff members living out the school’s values. Comments are shared with the employee’s supervisor. During staff meetings, Dr. Major recognizes the staff member for their effort.
Recent examples of how students and staff live out the school’s values include recognizing students who have earned their high school equivalency certification during the May graduation ceremony, staff members serving on business and education councils to give input on program direction, members of CareerTech Student organizations volunteering at the Oklahoma Special Olympics, and Evening Cosmetology students providing salon services to clients of Wings of Hope Family Crisis Center.
In addition to having nearly 900 students enrolled in full-time career training programs at its Main Campus in Stillwater, in January, the South Campus in Guthrie opened, and the school began providing personal and professional development courses through its Workforce and Economic Development division. The South Campus is also home to The Peak, a second business incubator that focuses on providing support for entrepreneurs.
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