Monticello OEC teaches work skills to Monticello and Drew Central students


Drew County has a unique educational facility that is at the disposal of students from both the Drew Central School District and students from the Monticello School District. The Monticello Occupational Education Center (OEC) specializes in courses that aren’t offered in the traditional classroom setting. 

The first of the courses offered is Automotive Service Technology. This course is a vocational course that is structured to allow students to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to diagnose, repair, and service automobiles. Students receive instruction in electrical systems, brakes, engine repair, and suspension and steering. The students are taught to use the appropriate tools, analyzers, testers, rebuild equipment, and other related tools or equipment. 

The OEC also offers a course in Construction Technology. Graduates of the course are prepared for beginning-level employment in trades such as Carpentry, Masonry, Painting, Cabinetry, and Electrical work. Elements of instruction include blueprint reading, estimating materials, computations related to working dimensions, building specifications and procedures, and basic electrical wiring with the understanding of codes and standards for electrical work.

Another course offered at the OEC is Criminal Justice. This program covers planning, managing, and providing judicial, legal, and protective services, including professional and technical support services in the fire protection and criminal justice systems. Courses offered in the program are Intro to Criminal Justice, Foundations of Law Enforcement, and Crime Scene Investigation (CSI).

Health Science Technology is also an offered course. This program is designed to assist students in gaining the skills and knowledge needed to become contributing members of the healthcare community. The program is designed to provide graduates with entry-level employment skills, initial mastery certification in their chosen health services career, and the opportunity to articulate with a post-secondary program leading to a higher level of mastery. Some of the areas of study are Foundations of Healthcare, Medical Terminology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Clinical Internship/CNA, and First Responder.

The OEC also offers a program that will prepare its graduates to begin working as Machinists. The Machine Tool program teaches the students to use all the necessary tools and equipment needed to operate a machine shop, read blueprints, and learn the characteristics of various types of metals. Shop experience includes the operation of machines such as lathes, drill presses, and milling machines. Supplementary training is offered in technical mathematics, safety, and shop management, as well as millwright training which requires installation, repair, dismantling, and reassembling machinery for industrial and construction settings.

The final course in the catalog is welding. This course is designed to develop skills in various methods of welding. The student is taught to use electric arc, oxy-acetylene, MIG, TIG, and plasma welding equipment, as well as aluminum welding equipment. Students will also learn blueprint reading, welding metallurgy, welding theory, and types of welding machines. Skillful students who complete the course will be prepared to take the American Welding Society Code Test which is required for all applicants for some welding positions. Advanced students receive instruction in plasma cutting and welding procedures. Supplementary training is offered in a newly acquired Augmented Welder which allows students to use SMAW, GMAW, and GTAW processes virtually and prepares them for live welding in a shop or industrial setting.

At the helm of the OEC is Randy Lay. Lay started working for the Monticello School District in 1990, as a school bus driver while attending college. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, and he received a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, both were earned at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. 

Lay is certified in Elementary Education for grades one through six, middle-level science, social studies, math and language arts, special education for K-12, building level administration for K-12, and secondary vocational administration.

Lay began teaching at Monticello Junior High in 1994 as a Special Education teacher and taught in that area for 12 years. Lay was also the MMS assistant principal for three and half years.

Lay is currently the Director at the OEC, a position he has held for the last 11 years. This is also Lay’s 33rd year as an employee of the Monticello School District.