By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
For 42 years, Tom Stiles has overseen the education of future farmers, nurses, welders, even school superintendents.
Stiles stepped away from education Thursday with his retirement as the superintendent of Indian Capital Technology Center. He came to ICTC in 2005 after four years as Fort Gibson’s school superintendent.
“Tom was appointed to be my mentor when I first began as a superintendent 14 years ago,” said Derald Glover, who succeeded Stiles at Fort Gibson.
Glover said the most important thing Stiles demonstrated was that he “just liked to put kids first.”
Muskogee Public Schools Superintendent Mike Garde also noted Stiles’ focus on students, staff and people.
Garde said Stiles had his version of the three R’s: “Relationships, relationships, relationships.”
Garde added, “He understood the value of building a very strong team around him.”
A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Stiles was the OSU Extension agent for Creek and Tulsa counties until 1977.
He taught vocational agriculture in Sand Springs Public Schools in the 1977-78 school year.
After handling administrative duties at the Owasso and Broken Arrow school districts, Stiles became the superintendent at Chelsea Public Schools in 1988, at Mannford Public Schools in 1991 and at Fort Gibson Public Schools in 2001.
ICTC Board President Budo Perry said that through eight years at ICTC, Stiles “raised the bar in career-tech.”
Perry said ICTC had “never attained Gold Star status until Tom came.”
The Oklahoma Association of Technology Centers presents an annual Gold Star Award to districts that meet or exceed standards in categories such as student retention, recruitment, communication, quality instruction and business/industry training programs.
ICTC won the Gold Star Award three years in a row.
Perry said Stiles had a focus during his tenure: “Everything we did had to be centered around the kids.”
At ICTC, those “kids” included adults as well as high school juniors and seniors.
During Stiles’ tenure, ICTC has grown to be the third-largest career-tech center in the state system for total enrollments. It has the second largest Business and Industry Service enrollments, according to a media release.
ICTC is working with Connors State College on the construction of health-care education buildings. One will be on the ICTC campus, 2401 N. 41st St. E., and the other will be on the CSC Port Campus, adjacent to ICTC.
Connors President Tim Faltyn said he has appreciated his partnership with Stiles.
Faltyn said that when he came to Muskogee County, “Stiles put his arm around me and helped me understand the community.”
Perry said Assistant ICTC Superintendent Tony Pivec is the interim superintendent. The board will not start a search for a new superintendent until January, he said.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.