February was CTE Month, and we celebrated SkillsUSA during the second full week of February every year. We held a webinar on February 12th for members and state associations and we had triple presidents with Board President James King, Sergio Cavazos, national high school president and Ben Morris, national college/postsecondary present all delivering powerful messages. We hope to be learning soon of the activities chapters carried out across the nation.
I traveled to Lincoln for board training and strategic planning on February 8. Nebraska’s board comprises both business executives and educators. The meeting was hosted by Design Data Corp., which has a representative on the board. I sent the completed draft of the strategic plan to them the following week.
That evening, the association held a student leadership dinner followed by a SkillsUSA Nebraska Foundation fundraiser. More than 400 people attended the event held at a private car collection museum valued in the millions of dollars and owned by a local entrepreneur. Sales of tickets, a silent auction, and a donation of $10,000 from Nebraska Machinery – the local Caterpillar dealer group – netted the foundation approximately $24,000 for the evening. A real highlight was the endorsement of SkillsUSA by Kelly Beach, an executive from Nebraska Machinery. In her remarks, she spoke of the strong network of SkillsUSA, how students benefit and the fact that the dealership uses SkillsUSA to recruit employees.
Congratulations and thanks go to Greg Stahr, state association director and former SkillsUSA board member, Tony Glenn, for the great work they’re doing.
We discussed two promising advocacy projects during the February 15 meeting of the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in Washington, D.C. One was in a presentation by the Alliance for Student Activities on the value of student activities. The Alliance is working with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to tell schools and communities that participation in student activities makes a significant difference in student attainment. They say they have 100 pieces of research with longitudinal data showing that participation in student activities – including CTSOs – yield positive outcomes. The next phase of their research will be to demonstrate the value added to the community by keeping students in school and engaged. NASSP representatives joined the meeting, including its director of student programs. We hope to partner with the Alliance and use their data in making our own case.
We also reviewed a draft state profile publication connecting the dots for policymakers on the value of all nine student organizations. The publication includes the number of CTSO members and schools in their federal voting districts. Collectively, the CTSOs have more than a million members annually so it can get some attention. The booklets will also include facts and data about career and technical education and the student organizations in the state.
Also discussed was the criteria that must be met for organizations to be recognized as CTSOs and the creation of a unified website for all the CTSOs.