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Instructor Loves Inspiring His Students

Jon Duffee spent 30 years in the IT industry before beginning his journey at Tulsa Tech in 2020, culminating as the instructor for the Enterprise Network Technician program.

“I didn’t know how long I’d be able to crawl under desks and since my mom was a teacher for 35 years, my retirement plan was to get into teaching,” Duffee said.

Duffee was accepted to teach Network+ and A+ classes at the Owasso campus in the evenings in October 2020 and did so for nearly a year before a full-time position became available.

“Tulsa Tech is a great place to work first and foremost for its administration. Here at the Riverside campus, we have some of the best bosses I’ve ever worked for. They help create a great environment for our students to learn not only technical skills, but they encourage us to talk about soft skills as well,” said Duffee. 

Now Duffee’s Enterprise Network Technician class sets his adult students on the path to a better future in just five months. It is an all-adult one-semester program, running January to the end of May, and then August through December. The students are on campus from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm and in just the first three weeks, take their Certiport IT Specialist Networking certification test, which is a fundamentals networking concepts exam. The students then begin the CISCO Academy curriculum, with the goal of passing the Cisco CCNA certification test at the end of the semester.

“It is fast paced, but we’ve seen tremendous results,” Duffee said. “They are learning to collaborate in class and online together and it is making them a cohesive team. They also learn that if they work through it, eat the elephant in small bites, they will be able to find success.”

“This program is an amazing fit for adult students because it is get in, learn what you need to learn, get your certification, and go get a job. We’re different from a traditional college where you would have to have all the humanities, math, etc., to earn your degree, whereas here you can focus on one thing for five months and we will do our best to get you across that finish line to a job.”

To succeed and earn their Cicso CCNA certification, Duffee says students need self-discipline, good reading comprehension and note taking skills, self-motivation and being open to the learning process.

Recently, a few of Duffee’s students were selected for the Cisco Live Dream Team in Las Vegas, including Kash Allison, Ally Vang, Jacob Teenor and Matt McCoy, while Austin Buffington was selected to the U.S. Open Dream Team in 2023. His students have also gone on to work for Cisco, Ascension St. John, Phillips and SageNet, to name a few.

“I get to inspire them. Even if I just kept their eyes on the end goal; that’s all I did and everything else was up to them, I’m honored to be the person doing that,” said Duffee. 

Duffee has also kept his eye on the prize, earning his Doctorate in Education, educational administration from Liberty University. He started out at Tulsa Community College, earning an Associate of Arts in psychology, followed by his Bachelor of Science in psychology, sociology from Northeastern State just one short year later. In 2020, Duffee received his Master of Science in education administration from Oklahoma Wesleyan University, followed by his specialist (Ed. S) in education administration from Liberty University in 2021. But it's his most recent accomplishment that earned him “doctor” status, earning his doctorate from Liberty in October 2023.

Outside of work, Duffee is a professional Santa Claus in November and December and a member of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas. He volunteers his “Santa” time with a lot of charities, and some of his biggest honors were to serve as Santa at the Castle of Muskogee, be in a parade and be Santa at Utica Square on Christmas Eve. 

Duffee also likes to read, watch movies and volunteer with Civitan and various LGBTQ organizations.

People ask him what’s next, but being a part of the students’ lives, inspiring them, helping them earn certifications and get their first IT jobs that then helps them do better for their families means a lot more to him, so he has no plans of changing that any time soon.