Editor’s note: This story covers the second portion of the State of Education luncheon held Monday. The first portion of this series appeared in the Tuesday edition of the Ardmoreite.

Superintendents, campus presidents and headmasters all presented what the future has in store for their schools, and curious citizens got the chance to ask questions face-to-face.
The Ardmore Chamber of Commerce held a State of Education forum Monday, where Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Federal Programs Matt Holder presented the State Department of Education’s 2020 budget request. Then, local schools gave presentations about their plans and goals for the future. Public schools touched on students’ mental health, STEM programs and building expansions, while higher education largely focused on their new programs and what programs may come next.  
Ardmore City Schools Superintendent Kim Holland began by talking about the district’s new extracurricular clubs, pre-kindergarten programs, ACT testing prep and STEAM activities.
“We have a robotics program at all three (elementary) schools,” Holland said. “They’re writing code, working with robots and competing against other schools. It is a popular program.”
In addition, Jefferson Elementary
School has a new archery program, drill team and honors program while Ardmore Middle School gained an after-school news broadcast club and an Adventure Club. This also marks Lincoln Elementary School’s 11th year as a Great Expectations school.
Dickson Superintendent Jeff Colclasure used the time to detail his district’s current and future building projects.
“We still have a lot of needs in the district, and we are looking into those with our facilities committee,” Colclasure said.  
Colclasure said the administration has turned its attention to improving classroom instruction through professional development for teachers.
“We’re sending them all over the state, and into surrounding states to try to improve,” Colclausure said.
Lone Grove Superintendent Meri Jayne Miller focused on her district’s extracurricular offerings, and how they play into the well-being of students.
“When you start looking at school finances, like Matt (Holder) talked about earlier and we talked about Flex Benefit, and how far we have to stretch our dollars... It gives you an idea of how we have to finagle our funds to do the best that we can to offer the opportunities to our students.”
She said sports, FFA, band and vocal music are all opportunities to keep kids focused and academically motivated. Miller said public school also serves a social purpose for students.
“With social media the way it is, it’s great for a lot of things, but we do have to be careful that our kids don’t lose that one-to-one contact,” Miller said. “We make sure they’re in school as much as possible.”
Miller said the state budget proposal’s emphasis on trauma-informed care and funding for additional counselors was a step in the right direction, as her district has taken a new approach to helping at-risk students this year.
“There are a lot of factors when you are teaching those kids,” Miller said. “We are very fortunate at Lone Grove that we have some specialized people who are willing to go out of their way and change their schedules in order to accommodate these kids and keep them in school.”
Next up, Plainview Superintendent Karl Stricker spoke about his district’s technological additions, STEAM classes and an elementary reading program for struggling readers.
“We’ve been working on different initiatives, some different things in that area,” Stricker said.
Stricker also discussed what he called emotional poverty, and a district initiative designed to address it.
“That started this year, and just last Monday we had a trainer come in,” Stricker said. “It is something I feel will benefit our students and aid them in being successful.”
Oak Hall Episcopal School Headmaster Ken Willy spoke about his school’s unique position as a pre-K through eighth grade private Episcopal school.
“Our school is a springboard for our students, not the end, only the beginning,” Willy said.
He said the school’s daily chapel program, extracurricular programs, field trips and free play directly impact students, along with the friendships they form at school and their overall sense of belonging and identity.
 “Certainly, what is happening in the classroom is a vital component, but so too is what occurs outside the classroom,” Willy said.
The school also has a needs-based financial aid program, which serves about a quarter of the school’s 124 students.
“‘Small’ has its own challenges,” Willy said. “But we are very good at small.”
Southern Tech Superintendent David Powell took the opportunity to remind guests that his institution isn’t known as Sotech, SOTC, VoTech, or any other variation on “Southern Tech,” before speaking about their high enrollment and new programs.
“Short-term programs just keep coming up,” Powell said. “The number of nationally recognized, industry-specific certifications has reached an all-time high as well.”
Southern Tech students earned a total of 950 certifications last year. This year, the technical school started holding heavy equipment operating training on land the school purchased for future expansion. Powell said the class will work on an ongoing project to build a pond near the campus, which will be completed over several semesters, and the new pre-engineering course is also proving popular among students.
 “The class is packed,” Powell said. “You may have seen the excavator stuck in a mud puddle, it was kind of embarrassing, but you know, that’s how they learn. Also, if you live in Dickson or Mansville, I’m sorry we cut the AT&T line.”
Peggy Maher, the newly-hired president and CEO of the University Center of Southern Oklahoma, spoke about the center’s partnership with Langston University, their new nursing program in Ardmore, and plans to bring more programs to the center in the future.
“I run into people every day who say they’ve taken some classes there,” Maher said. “Some say they got their degree there. You’ve shown us so much love, and we want to show some of it back by bringing new programs in.”
Between concurrent enrollment for high school juniors and seniors, students who take a few credit hours while they’re home for the summer and students who start at MCS, then transfer to another college, most UCSO students will make some sort of transfer in their time there.
“Oklahoma has a really good transfer matrix that shows what classes will transfer from one institution to another,” Maher said.
She said Murray State College provides the bulk of first- and second-year courses at the center.
“One thing we have to see is what students Murray has enrolled who are ready to move on to other degree programs,” Maher said.
She said in the future she plans to expand the campus to house more students. At present, some classes are still being taught at the Ardmore City Schools administration building, where the center was formerly based.