On Thursday, March 4, Kelly Horton and I traveled to Atlanta to join the Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Team and four-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson in an exciting event to honor our first school in the 2010 “Toolbox for Education” Kobalt Tool program. SkillsUSA students and their advisor from Jonesboro High School in Atlanta were taken on a “tool shopping spree” in the Lowe’s store by driver Jimmie Johnson, and they left the store with $1,100.00 worth of Kobalt Mechanic’s tools. Jimmie Johnson told me: “SkillsUSA is really a perfect fit for me to talk about. Your organization is doing fantastic things.”
The tool set was the first of 400 to be presented to SkillsUSA Automotive Service Technology chapters nationwide. The chapters receiving the tools are all 100% chapters that engage all students in the program as active members. All chapters have been notified of their awards, and each chapter will visit their local Lowe’s store to redeem the coupon for tools and a Lowe’s/Kobalt/SkillsUSA co-branded banner for their labs. The total value of the nationwide tool donation is $440,000.
The event, held at Lowe’s of Edgewood in Atlanta, included an overview of the tool program by Lowe’s executive Billy Sarvis, and I delivered a presentation on the SkillsUSA/Lowe’s partnership, expressed appreciation on behalf of our students nationwide and congratulated the local chapter.
Jimmie Johnson drove the Lowe’s #48 car into the doorway of the Lowe’s store and received an enthusiastic welcome from the store associates, SkillsUSA members and the general public who attended. There was lots of press on hand, and our students were featured in a spot by the Fox Network that aired Sunday at the beginning of the Kobalt Tools 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
SkillsUSA Georgia State Association Director Gayle Silvey joined us in Atlanta, and she did a great job in helping to organize the event.
On February 24, the National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations met at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education. There was a great deal to discuss. OVAE staff has requested key dates for conferences and events from all the CTSOs. They plan to get staff out to the major events like conference and WLTI. FFA national officers have met with Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan, and OVAE would like to see more students coming to the Department of Education to engage staff and offer their opinions and CTE success stories.
OVAE is also developing a CTE marketing strategy, and they want student input. They plan to invite SkillsUSA and the other CTSO student leaders to serve on a focus group for the initiative.
We had a good discussion on alumni initiatives by the various organizations. Going forward, we will be holding NCC-CTSO “themed meetings.” Alumni will be the focus of the first one. A second theme is communications strategies. It’s great to see the cooperation among the CTSO executives and the plans to share best practices.
We had a visit by Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier. She discussed the importance of CTSOs in CTE and the fact that our students are the face of career and technical education. She said she has plans to begin reauthorization of Perkins immediately, even though it’s authorized through 2012 already. And, she also believes that, for the first time, we have the opportunity to have CTE named specifically in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
On March 2, we were back at OVAE, this time for the last Technical Advisory Committee meeting for Champions for Change. Fifteen of the committee members asttended including board member Wayne Kutzer and state association director from Massachusetts, Karen Ward. Dr. Sharon Miller, director, Division of Academic and Technical Education, spoke to the group and encouraged SkillsUSA to “get the word out” about the Skill Connect Assessments. She said they’re needed, and there is a great deal of interest in assessments right now, particularly in common core academics and technical standard assessments.
Glenn Cummings, deputy assistant secretary at OVAE, had visited with the NCC-CTSO group and mentioned specifically the great experience he had with our students at WLTI. Glenn also visited individually with all of the technical advisory committee members during lunch. We plan to conduct a demonstration of the Skill Connect Assessments in his office in the near future, and we’re inviting him to speak during conference.
The afternoon featured a third-party evaluation report by Melinda Findley Lloyd on progress at the vulnerable community sites. The testimony of the young people – and the teachers – is a powerful endorsement of the difference SkillsUSA’s programs and approach can make in people’s lives. In many instances, young people’s involvement in SkillsUSA gave them something they hadn’t had before: hope.
Advance notice went to the state association directors on February 25 that the Web site for Engineering Alliance was live. To see the site, go to www.engineeringalliance.org. Project Lead The Way (PLTW) sent announcement e-mail from John Lock, CEO, on March 4 to PLTW school administrators and instructors.
SkillsUSA sent out the news release announcing the Engineering Alliance to 477 editors and reporters in the education press and a list of education and engineering trade publications created specifically for the Engineering Alliance. The release also was sent out on PR Web through our SkillsUSA service, and we know that in over 24 hours, there were nearly 64,500 headline impressions and 790 full-page reads on the World Wide Web. Here’s the link to the release: http://www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/pressreleases/engalliance.pdf.
On February 26, staff met to prepare for the upcoming National Leadership and Skills Conference. Among the numbers reported: the Championships will have 96 contests adding 170 additional contestants and putting the projected total of contestants at 5,500 (twice the number of contestants at the recent Winter Olympics); will be in 33 hotels this year, up five from last year; and, TECHSPO is up $20,000 in booth sales over last year at this time.
And, staff did a great job of running a webinar on inclusion and diversity for the national officers before they start heading out to spring conferences. The national officers not only liked it, they appreciated it.
The first ever WorldSkills Americas competition is being conducted in Rio de Janeiro, March 10-13 in conjunction with the Brazil national competitions. The National Service for Industrial Training (SENAI) in Brazil is hosting.
The Participants from 12 countries have entered competitions in 20+ trade areas. Twenty-eight countries have sent trade experts and Technical and Official delegates to observe and assist with the management of the competitions.
The SkillsUSA WorldTeam consists of five technical experts supporting the two students competing in Automotive Service Technology and Cabinetmaking. Daniel Lehmkuhl, Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, Calif. is competing in Automotive Technology. Chase Trayal, Meridian Community College, Meridian, Miss. is competing in Cabinetmaking. Both are medalists from the 2009 SkillsUSA Championships. SkillsUSA’s Official Delegate and Technical Delegate to WorldSkills International are also attending, as is the WorldTeam’s Team Leader.
The technical experts are as follows:
Kelly Caudle, Stanly Community College; – IT/PC Networking
Ray Connolly, DRS Technologies – Welding
Pat Klarecki, Ferris State University – Graphic Design and Printing
Scott Norman, Pittsburg State University – Automotive Technology
Rob Tobias, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology – Cabinetmaking
We believe we can improve our performance at the next WorldSkills competition in London in October 2011 due to our students and technical experts participating in WorldSkills Americas. The competition mirrors the WorldSkills Competition and runs four days, the same schedule the students will face in London.
We have received notification that our two competitors both earned silver medals in their respective competitions. Congratulations Chase and Daniel!
Chase Trayal and Daniel Lehmkuhl show off their silver medals.
Toyota is pleased to announce that the application is now available for the 2010 Toyota International Teacher Program to the Galapagos Islands, a fully-funded professional development program for U.S. educators. Funded by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., and administered by the Institute of International Education, the program aims to advance environmental stewardship and global connectedness in U.S. schools and communities.
The program will take place November 20-December 4, 2010 and the deadline to apply is May 26, 2010. Full-time classroom teachers and librarians of all subjects for grades 6-12 are eligible to apply. Please go to www.toyota4education.com for application instructions, FAQs, and to apply online.
SkillsUSA students and teachers nationwide are asked to lend their technical expertise and leadership skills to help others during the SkillsUSA National Week of Service, scheduled for May 2-8, 2010. The annual event is conducted in honor of the May 8 anniversary of the founding of SkillsUSA. The SkillsUSA National Week of Service shines a spotlight on our dedication to serving others while showcasing the skills of career and technical education students who are learning to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Many SkillsUSA chapters are already participating in local community service projects. What we ask is that you hold an event during the week of May 2-8. By coordinating hundreds of events to be held during the same week, SkillsUSA has the potential to command nationwide attention.
We’re offering a SkillsUSA gift item to the first 50 chapter advisors who send in a brief report on their community service activities held during May 2-8. Just let us know in a paragraph or two about what your chapter did to help your community, and we’ll send you a gift to say thanks for keeping us informed. Reports are due by May 31. Digital photos are also encouraged with your report.
I’m attending the Georgia State Leadership and Skills Conference in Atlanta. Gayle and Sonny are running a great show down here. The opening ceremony was powerful and the state officers – and the two national officers from Georgia, Zia and Eve – were just plain excellent on stage. They have about 2,000 attending and over 5,000 participating in the Career Expo.
February 18 was a day for gathering people together on the Web. Both the state association director Web meeting in the morning and the Alumni Coordinating Committee Web meeting in the evening went well.
There were 31 state association directors online. Curtis Barnett and other members of the State Association Directors’ Executive Committee led the discussion. This was the committee’s report on their January meeting in Florida and the opportunity for discussion and comment from other directors.
The Alumni Coordinating Committee Web conference was also well attended. Niki Clausen reports that the committee covered: national conference activities; the move of the 5K race to Friday during conference and how that will affect registration; increasing the number of entries in the Alumni Pin Design Contest; and, job descriptions for volunteers. They have at least two nominees for each of the coordinating positions coming open this year. Nominations are due in April. Niki also says the committee is grateful for the $100 gift card offered by Air Products for the winning pin design. Alumni membership now stands at 8,473 and 167 more applicants still have to be entered in the database. The alumni membership goal for the year is 15,000.