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Summertime is Connection Time

August 1st, 2012

As we wrap up our NLSC each year and then enjoy the July 4 holiday, our next big opportunity comes as summer professional development conferences kick off for our teachers and administrators across the nation. I’ll be participating in three this summer and they offer an opportunity to connect with teachers, state directors, state agency staff, administrators and supporting business partners.

My first summer conference for 2012 was the Georgia Education and Economic Development Summit held in Atlanta, July 15-18. It was interesting to see that our good friend Bill Symonds from the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard was the keynote speaker for the opening plenary.

It was invited to present a workshop on business and industry driven assessments and our Work Force Ready System and Skill Connect assessments fit the bill nicely. My presentation was well received and I got excellent feedback from the schools currently using our assessments as end of pathway exams. I received some excellent comments from teachers, administrators and university faculty and the workshop received consistent rankings of 4 to 5 on a 5-point evaluation scale.

In addition to the assessment presentation, I was kept busy with several other assignments and opportunities. The first was my participation in the commencement ceremonies of the Georgia SkillsUSA University. State Association Director Gayle Silvey and her team did an outstanding job of chapter management training for a packed house of advisors on July 15. I was honored to speak to the group and to present their completion diplomas at the end of the training.

My next step was the TIEGA Awards Luncheon where I brought greetings to nearly 300 of our instructors and administrators. I spent some quality time with our corporate member Carol Burke and learned more about her passion and support for SkillsUSA. At this activity, Gayle Silvey was honored with farewell accolades and gifts from her peers as they wished her well in her new role with the national organization. Incoming state association director and former national officer Ashley Hopkins was introduced and did a great job of orientation for the coming school year. Ashley has completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia and is nearing completion of her Masters in Workforce Development. Although Gayle will be a tough act to follow, I am confident that Ashley will do a tremendous job as our new director in Georgia.

I also spent some quality time with the regional conference and Championships coordinators and discussed the challenges of regional operations. It was a great time of sharing our national perspective on the importance of regional events and discussing new ideas. Georgia high school competitions are held inside technical colleges and this offers not only a neutral competition arena, but a great opportunity for college recruitment and for our high school members to experience a day on campus.

I also attended and spoke at a Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) dinner event to honor construction technology instructors. CEFGA is a major partner of SkillsUSA Georgia. I was also able to spend some time with CTE Director Richard Turner at this activity. He attended NLSC last month as part of the VIP program and he was thoroughly impressed.

The final activity of the conference was the Award and Recognition Brunch on July 18 where I heard State Superintendent Dr. John Barge speak to the full conference of nearly 3,000. John is a staunch supporter of CTE and SkillsUSA. He had just returned from three national meetings, including the meeting of Chief State School Officers in Idaho. His remarks included information about the big nationwide buzz and discussion regarding CTE as a key component of education reform in America. He and Georgia are doing great things in CTE and in SkillsUSA. I believe we can count on continued support from John and the Georgia Department of Education and also have confidence that Georgia’s CTE and SkillsUSA model will be a part of the larger national dialogue on education reform.

I’ll also be attending summer conferences in Minnesota and Washington State.

Highlights

August 1st, 2012
  • Speaking of training, Deb Tripp, our associate director of training, left the national staff on Friday, July 13 to take over the SkillsUSA state association director position in Virginia. We wish her well as the new Virginia state director.
  • Prior to Deb’s departure, we posted the associate director of training position and I am pleased to announce that Niki Clausen has interviewed and been promoted to the position. Niki has come full circle through the SkillsUSA program as a former member, national officer, instructor, advisor, state director and as a member of the national staff for the past two and a half years. In her time with us, Niki has taken our alumni to new heights and we are very proud of her accomplishments. And, as one of our current trainers for students and educators, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. I am confident she will excel in her new role.
  • We are wrapping up final details and inquiries regarding our largest NLSC in history. Paid registration for conference was at all time high of 10, 037. And, there were a record 5,901 contestants, 11 percent of them over the age of 25.
  • We were also thrilled with the large number of business and government VIPs attending this year. Over 300 attended, and we were pleased that one of them, Assistant Secretary of Education Dr. Brenda Dan-Messier, was published in a recent USDOE newsletter: Commenting on the NLSC experience, Dann-Messier said, “I was truly humbled and inspired by the … students who competed in 94 skills competitions …. Equally amazing was the enormous outpouring of support—through voluntarism, cash contributions, state-of-the-art equipment, etc.—from hundreds of teachers, national advisers, and business and industry leaders across this nation. I walked away filled with hope for our nation’s future workforce and prosperity.” Dann-Messier also spoke at the Youth Development Foundation Awards and Recognition Luncheon, before the SkillsUSA corporate meeting, and before the SkillsUSA joint delegate special session.
  • I attended the Construction Industries Institute in Baltimore starting last Sunday through Wednesday with Karmen Ayers, past national officer from Washington State. Karmen was our student representative and speaker at the opening plenary of construction executives. Karmen and I operated a SkillsUSA exhibit booth at this event in cooperation with NCCER. There were great connections with several hundred commercial construction executives at this event.

SkillsUSA Theme

August 1st, 2012

The SkillsUSA competition theme for the 2012-13 year is:

SkillsUSA: Champions at Work
Prepared with the Skills America Needs

The topic to be addressed by contestants in the Chapter Display, Prepared Speech and Promotional Bulletin Board contests is how our slogan, SkillsUSA: Champions at Work, relates to our national program of work in the area of professional development.

Within this topic, contestants might illustrate or discuss any of the following:

  • Based on research from employers, what skills do Americans need?
  • How does SkillsUSA provide the skills needed?
  • How does participation in SkillsUSA provide members an edge in the workforce?
  • How does involvement in SkillsUSA provide a competitive edge to America in the global economy?
  • By participating in SkillsUSA events, how will you be more marketable in the workforce?
  • What do SkillsUSA members need to do to be prepared?
  • What skills have you gained through SkillsUSA that will make you prepared to enter your chosen field?
  • How does SkillsUSA continue to adapt to prepare students with these needed skills?
  • What principles was America founded on and how are those still relevant today?
  • Why do American citizens need to have a variety of skills?
  • How do we establish an attitude of life-long learning through the SkillsUSA programs?

Washington Leadership Training Institute Congressional Appointments

August 1st, 2012

On Tuesday, September 18, 2012, the students and advisors attending WLTI will have time to go to Capitol Hill and visit with their Senators and Representatives between 10:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (The bus leaves at 3 p.m.) Appointments need to be set up ahead of time.  You can find a sample appointment request letter here.

We suggest delegations first fax the appointment request letter and follow it up with a phone call. Letters sent by mail may take a month to reach Congressional offices because of security systems. But, if you do send a letter, please hand-write or type the address – don’t use a label. The label will be blackened because all Congressional mail goes through an irradiation process. And, don’t rely on an email invitation. Congress is receiving a massive amount of email right now, so there is a good chance it could be overlooked, depending upon the office.

If you have questions or need information about how to contact your members of

Congress, contact Jane Short at 703-737-0612 or by email at jshort@skillsusa.org.

Sample Press Release for NLSC Participants Reminder

August 1st, 2012

A sample letter/press release is on the SkillsUSA’s advocacy site. It’s a template to be used by state association directors, instructors, parents and others to help get the word out to the media and to Congress about the students who competed or participated in some other way (i.e., as a delegate, Courtesy Corps member, etc.) during the National Leadership and Skills Conference. The press release can be sent to five media outlets at a time through the advocacy site and to the students’ Representative and Senators. The site can be reached by going to: http://www.skillsusa.org/about/policy.shtml and clicking on “advocacy site.” Please encourage your teachers to use and spread the word about this valuable tool.

SkillsUSA Championships Medalist Photos

August 1st, 2012

The winners’ photos from the 2012 SkillsUSA Championships are categorized and the captions have been completed. We’ll be happy to send a winners’ photo or photos to anyone who requests it. If you’d like to receive a photo, please email Jane Short at jshort@skillsusa.org.


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