Meet Khaaliq Salim, director of the Danforth Campus at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. Salim’s interview appears as part of a spotlight series on ACTE’s educational institution members (EIMs).
Francis Tuttle Technology Center provides professional and career advancement training opportunities at various levels. High school students who attend our partner schools and home school students who live within the district — and who meet the requirements — attend classes at no cost other than those that come with specific courses.
The school is named in honor of Dr. Francis Tuttle, a former public school superintendent whose visionary leadership led to the formation of the entire CareerTech system. Now, as one of Oklahoma’s 29 technology center districts providing CareerTech training for high school students and adult learners, as well as services for business and industry customers, Francis Tuttle remains a vital component of the economic development arm of Oklahoma’s education system.
Khaaliq Salim, Francis Tuttle Technology Center, EIM
Tell me a little about your job on campus. What’s your job title and what do you do?
I am the director of our Danforth Campus, opening in August 2021 with an entrepreneurial theme. Career-training programs on the campus will include cosmetology, automotive service, interactive media and pre-nursing. In addition, the campus will house four college prep academies for high school students: computer science, engineering, bio-sciences & medicine, and entrepreneurship.
Francis Tuttle’s business incubator, Launch Pad FT — as well as a pre-accelerator — will also be on campus, working work with early stage businesses owners to ensure they have the necessary resources, guidance and mentorship to thrive in the new economy.
Can you tell me a little about your upbringing?
I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with my parents and four siblings. My mom is retired from education; she worked as an elementary school teacher and a counselor. My dad retired from the county health department. Although my parents did not have much money, we were fortunate to go to private school and magnet schools through high school. My parents instilled in us the value of getting a good education, as they both have college degrees. Currently, four of the five Salim children work in the field of education.
What was your education experience like? What did you study?
I went to Langston University (Langston, Oklahoma) for my undergraduate studies. I majored in mathematics and industrial technology, and I thought I wanted to be an engineer. Then I received my master’s degree in teaching, learning & leadership from Oklahoma State University. Later, I went back to get my secondary principal and superintendent certifications.
After getting the opportunity to teach my senior year in college, I was bitten by the teaching bug immediately. I found my passion when I was able to witness students’ “a-ha!” moment.
What led you to your field?
I taught math and electronics at Langston University for eight years. After leaving Langston, I took 18 months off from teaching and ventured into the corporate world. To put it bluntly, I hated it. Cubicle work life was not for me. I made a decision and took an alternative certification route in order to teach at the secondary level. That is when the opportunity at Francis Tuttle Technology Center became available.
How do you like working at Francis Tuttle Technology Center?
This is my thirteenth year at Francis Tuttle. I have served in a variety of roles on several of our campuses including infusion instructor, career transitions instructor and assistant instructional director. In 2019, I was promoted to instructional director. I love working with instructors and students every day.
Francis Tuttle’s mission is “preparing our customers for success in the workplace.” It is extremely rewarding to see the satisfaction a student has when they pass a certification test or get a job offer. Knowing we played a small part in their success lets us know we are doing the right thing. Our leadership team, instructors and staff are the very best at helping students succeed.
Do you have any advice that you would offer to students who intend to pursue postsecondary education in CTE?
I have learned that not everyone should follow a traditional four-year college pathway. A technical education provides specific, hands-on training our graduates need to earn rewarding, well-paying careers. Career and technical education has been a well-kept secret for too long. It is time for us to get the word out regarding the many advantages it provides.