Meet Danna Goss, Technical Applications Program instructor at High Plains Technology Center in Woodward, Oklahoma. Goss’s interview appears as part of a spotlight series on ACTE’s educational institution members (EIM).
High Plains Technology Center High Plains Technology Center operates as part of a network of 29 career technology centers across the state of Oklahoma. High Plains trains individuals for success in the workplace. A wide variety of course offerings make career education possible for students from all walks of life: career training, professional and personal interest, online classes and business solutions.
Danna Goss, High Plains Technology Center, EIM
What is your job title and what do you do?
I am the Technical Applications Program’s (TAP) freshman instructor and also lead teacher of TAP. TAP focuses on creating a learning environment that promotes higher-level thinking about real world situations and increases student collaboration. Our goal is to use the technology in TAP to allow career exploration in trades and industry, emphasizing science, math and engineering components. TAP, offered in grades six through nine, introduces and exposes students to all career opportunities offered at High Plains Technology Center. By identifying students’ needs at an early age, setting goals, providing individualized career plans, and teaching skills, student success will increase.
Can you tell me a little about your upbringing?
I grew up on a family farm near Empire, Oklahoma, and then moved to El Paso, Illinois — and I was always involved in agriculture. Our family raised show pigs. We were actively involved in 4-H and the National FFA Organization, showing pigs and judging livestock. My parents always focused on teaching me to do my best; they encouraged me to be a hard worker and dedicated to a given job and/or assignment.
What was your education experience like?
I was fortunate to have some amazing teachers that allowed my free spirit to roam, and to think outside the box. I was able to be creative in my approach, within reason, in order to meet their end goals. I also had some very rigid teachers who taught in a very structured and organized manner. I respected the rules and their authority but would tend to get distracted and cause mischief.
I attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and Oklahoma State University, where I was as a member of the livestock judging teams. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and agricultural business. While working with young students at livestock judging camps, I became interested in teaching. I obtained a master’s degree in education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and later pursued a second master’s in educational leadership.
School was a place for me to learn but also to make connections with others. I enjoyed school. Involvement in extracurricular activities (4-H, FFA, and athletics) allowed me to find the “why” in learning. I found that nontraditional education — applying skills in a hands-on learning environment — taught me the most. I believe that is why teaching TAP for High Plains Technology Center is great fit for me.
What led you to your current role in CTE?
This is my 26th year to teach. I began my teaching career in 1995 in Elk City, Oklahoma. I taught fifth, sixth and eighth grade science, I then taught seventh and eighth grade in Canute, Oklahoma. In 2010, I began teaching in the Biomedical Science Academy at Western Technology Center in Burns Flat, Oklahoma.
In 2016, I went to work for High Plains Technology Center to start a new program for middle school students. Together with my teaching partner Lisa Steadman, we created and built the Technical Applications Program for students in grades six through nine.
How do you like working at High Plains Technology Center?
High Plains Technology Center is an amazing place to work with a family atmosphere. The administrative team is creative, unique and grounded in their approach to student learning.
Is there anything else about your life that you’d like to share?
I enjoy living on the farm and being actively involved in the agriculture industry. We raise show pigs, show cattle and Australian Shepherd dogs. My husband and I have five children and seven grandchildren to enjoy. I believe that my background and experiences bring life and application to my classroom each day.
Do you have any advice that you would offer to students who intend to pursue postsecondary education in CTE?
Chase your dreams! Set high standards and expectations for yourself. When you find your “why” in learning, your purpose will become clear and vivid. The opportunities in career and technical education are tremendous; the skill development and training one can obtain will lay a strong foundation for college and career success.