Since 1966, SkillsUSA has facilitated “the long line of red blazers” headed to Capitol Hill in September. The 2010 Washington Leadership Training Institute continued this tradition and was one of the best institutes ever held. I could not be more pleased with what I saw from the students and advisors during every phase of this year’s event. I heard comments from a West Virginia teacher who said: “This is the best experience I’ve had in my 20-plus years of teaching.” From an administrator from New York: “I’ve never been to a conference as organized as this one. Every event is on time and the quality of the activities and presenters has been first class. I’m taking the message back to other administrators in my state that this is an event of extremely high value and others should participate.” And, from a student from Alabama who told me: “This week has changed my life.” And, there were many, many more positive comments just like these.
I was very pleased that SkillsUSA Board of Directors President Russ Hoffbauer attended and served in the role of State Farm sponsor and also as a participant in the congressional visits.
Students received great training from former national officers Niki Clausen, Byekwaso Francis and Carl Wetzler. Speakers were excellent and our Monday keynote was delivered by Sharon Miller and Margaret Romer from the Division of Academic and Technical Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Staff did a great job assisting with all facets of the conference.
The advisor sessions were well attended and the speakers were well prepared and informative. Steve DeWitt from ACTE and Erin Uy from NASDCTEc gave a joint presentation on present policy and future vision for CTE; Bill Lawhorn, an economist from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, gave a presentation on the outlook for careers served by SkillsUSA and CTE; the Army gave a presentation about strategies for successful advocacy; the advisors held a best practice expert panel; Staff gave a presentation on the Work Force Ready System; and finally, I held a discussion session with advisors. The comments I’ve heard from the advisors and students alike were very positive.
We’re still reviewing delegation reports from the students’ visits to Capitol Hill. We’ve received more detailed reports than in the past, and we know that 21 states held meetings with at least 78 different Senate and House offices on September 21. That’s eight more visits than last year. Eileen Cassidy from GAERF accompanied the Rhode Island delegation on their visits. We’re proud of the students and advisors who participated in WLTI for carrying forward the message of career and technical education and SkillsUSA.
On Tuesday, September 21, while the students and advisors were visiting with Congress, Deb Tripp, Russ Hoffbauer, three national officers and I visited Senator Michael Enzi’s office (R-WY). We discussed the impact CTE has on students, schools and communities, the possibilities for SkillsUSA WorldTeam funding and the need for clarification of the use of Perkins funds for CTSO activities.
Thanks to our Associate Director of Training, Deb Tripp, for leading WLTI and to every department at SkillsUSA and our state association directors for the contributions they all made. It was a true demonstration of staff teamwork. We were all a part of something that made a wonderfully positive impact on our students, teachers and administrators. The long line of red blazers on Capitol Hill continues.