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All Pathways Lead to Harvard

April 15th, 2013

On March 17-19, I participated in a national gathering in Cambridge, Mass: “Creating Pathways to Prosperity – a Direction Setting Conference at Harvard University.” More than 400 educators, researchers, business leaders, economists, and civil stakeholders convened at Harvard to consider the possibility of expanding career pathways in school systems across the country. The catalyst for the conference was the February 2013 report from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) titled, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century.

I was pleased to be invited to this conference by Harvard’s Bill Symonds (Bill also attended NLSC in 2012 and participated in our Champion of the Year dinner in Washington, D.C. last September). The kick-off speaker for the conference was SkillsUSA’s Champion of the Year and Snap-on Chairman and CEO Nick Pinchuk. A quote from Nick that I really loved: “The United States is in a global economic war and the best weapon we have is career and technical education.” SkillsUSA was also very well represented by board member, Kathy Mannes, who spoke on a panel that addressed what high quality postsecondary education should look like. Kathy spoke passionately about quality postsecondary programs including SkillsUSA as a method of delivering employability skills training. We also had great comments from several other business partners and colleagues from both education and government.

One of the highlights for me was the Young Leaders Forum, where five young adults spoke of their success. We had great student representation from Dineen Tetreault, former SkillsUSA state vice president from Massachusetts. Dineen has climbed the ladder of success, received a B.A. from Worcester University, managed a nursing facility, and she now heads her own marketing firm. She credited much of her success to SkillsUSA, her state director and her chapter mentors from Blackstone Valley Regional Technical High School. Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick, superintendent of Blackstone, also participated as a speaker on the topic of “Providing High Quality High School Programs.” He cited SkillsUSA as a key component of the Massachusetts education system and used several slides showing SkillsUSA activities (and lots of students in red blazers).

Many attendees made the case that the United States can no longer ignore the huge mismatch that exists between the skills students learn in school and the needs of the modern workforce. Several speakers noted that the college-for-all movement has led to widespread dropouts within high school and postsecondary education, college graduates lacking the skills required by employers, and a lack of workers with the high-tech skills essential to the economic development of the United States. Instead, evidence was presented that career pathways prepare all students to be career and college ready and can lead students to higher levels of success as adults. Relevant career pathways open up options for students that the traditional high school and college systems cannot or have not provided in the past.

During the conference, attendees shared their strategies, commitments and experiences for expanding the multiple pathways approach. Some see the need to prepare career-ready students as an economic issue, some see it as an issue of equity or social justice, and others view it as a national security issue. Regardless of the philosophical orientation, the participants in the many panels agreed that a more relevant, engaging and pragmatic approach is needed to prepare students for employment and careers.

Given that students are competing globally with graduates from other countries, it was emphasized that students must acquire the knowledge, skills and dispositions to help innovate and create new technologies and approaches. Without commitments from business and education to change local, state, and national policies and systems, there is doubt that the full economic potential of our country or wide-spread sustainable wages can be attained in the foreseeable future.

Many presentations supported career and technical education (CTE) as an essential foundational element of creating the pathways needed to truly transform education systems. To assist in moving the pathways movement forward, Harvard’s Dr. Ron Ferguson announced the creation of the Pathways to Prosperity Network. The network is a collaboration between the Pathways to Prosperity Project at HGSE, Jobs for the Future (JFF), and six states focused on ensuring that many more young people complete high school, attain a postsecondary credential with currency in the labor market and launch into a career while leaving open the prospect of further education.

My big take away from the gathering at Harvard was this statement by Dr. Ron Ferguson, “We’ve been discussing this issue for over 20 years. It’s now time to stop talking. It’s time to act – it’s time to start a national movement.” I fully agree that I’ve heard some of these same discussions for several years. The difference this time was that the Harvard Graduate School of Education was leading the conversation. This lends great credibility to the business we’re in, and I truly that this movement will help us build the value case for the work we do in SkillsUSA. Finally, Harvard will produce a report on what was learned at this gathering and, from that report, will launch a national Pathways campaign. They have also contracted with a Boston marketing firm to begin a national ad campaign around the pathways issue. To read more, go to:

Thanks to Dr. Patrick Ainsworth, retired CTE director from the California Department of Education, for his portion of this report.

American Technical Education Association (ATEA) National Conference in Chattanooga

April 15th, 2013

On March 20-21, I was thrilled to be a part of the 50th ATEA National Conference in Chattanooga, Tenn. The conference attendance was approximately 1,000. It was a great showcase for Board of Directors’ President James King and the Tennessee Technology Centers (TCC) technical education system. James spoke to the opening and awards sessions and highlighted the many successes of TTC. The system is a national model for postsecondary retention and completion. I was the keynote speaker for the ATEA awards luncheon on the 21st and also presented a report on the Harvard Pathways to Prosperity Conference in a concurrent session. James King and the TTC System also presented several awards to outstanding educators and supporters. The highlight of the awards presentation was the Outstanding Student Award. I was very proud to see this prestigious award presented to Mary Kamuiru, an esthetics student at The Tennessee Technology Center in Chattanooga and SkillsUSA’s national college/postsecondary secretary. Along with the new award and a chance to speak to the ATEA audience about her path to success, Mary was also thrilled to win a brand new car – a 2013 Chevy Spark. TCC has made the new car presentation an annual tradition for the outstanding student.

Video highlights from the conference are here:

State Leadership and Skills Conference in Full Swing

April 15th, 2013

I had a great time participating at the Mississippi SLSC about a month ago. I then went to the California SLSC on April 3 and then on to Wisconsin the following week. It is such an exciting time of year for SkillsUSA and hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and partners across the nation. And it’s a wonderful time for me and every staff member who participates in our state events. There’s no better place to see the excitement of our program manifest. And, speaking of state conferences, the SkillsUSA Georgia SLSC saw incredible attendance, and it was captured on streaming video and archived for viewing by U.S. Education TV. We have contracted with the same production company to stream highlights of our NLSC this year, including the entire opening and awards ceremonies, the Championships and other major conference events and activities. We’re excited about this new process.

To view highlights of the Georgia SLSC, go to the following link. I know you’ll be impressed:


April 15th, 2013
  • We have worked with Youth Development Foundation Committee member Cameron Ferguson and Caterpillar Inc. to confirm that Mike Rowe will indeed be our keynote speaker at the 2013 NLSC Opening Ceremony. CAT will also sponsor the Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting and Dave Bozeman, CAT Vice President of Manufacturing will address the audience at the ceremony. Dave was also a presenter at the Harvard conference. A press release on the event was sent out on April 3. Here is the link:
  • Staff reports that the State Certified Trainer training in Denver, Colo. on March 15-16 went very well. Eight advisors and one state director attended and the participants came from six states. Wyoming participated for the first time. The participants were all excited about receiving the new materials and looked forward to sharing what they had learned with their states.
  • Staff traveled to Atlanta to work with Gayle Silvey on membership strategies for next school year.
  • Staff traveled to the Texas High School State Conference in Corpus Christi, April 4-6 to work with alumni initiatives.

National Week of Service

April 15th, 2013

Week of ServiceWe invite all our chapters to participate in the SkillsUSA National Week of Service on May 6-12. Chapters may participate in two ways: 1) conduct a community service project during that week; or 2) promote a service project the chapter did earlier in the school year during that week. This will help commemorate the founding of SkillsUSA on May 8, 1965. The SkillsUSA National Week of Service not only shines a spotlight on SkillsUSA’s dedication to serving others, but it also showcases the skills and expertise of career and technical education students who are learning to become tomorrow’s leaders.

We encourage chapter advisors to send a brief report on their community service activities to Kelly Horton at the national headquarters: Please let us know in a paragraph or two what the chapter does to help the community and we’ll post these reports and photos online.  The first 50 chapters that report Week of Service plans to the national headquarters will receive a free item.

For planning materials, go to:

Searching for States for State Farm-funded Training Seminars

April 15th, 2013

State Farm logoState Farm Insurance is, once again, generously sponsoring regional Professional Development Program (PDP), Chapter Management Institute (CMI) seminars, Career Skills Education Program (CSEP) and Enhance Your Chapter (EYC) seminars.  All materials and training will be free to participants. The only cost is $30 for lunch and breaks. PDP participants will receive a complete set of PDP materials and free licenses for each level. CMI participants will receive an ASK CD, a SkillsUSA Leadership Handbook and the SkillsUSA Championships Technical Standards CD package. CSEP participants will receive one free CSEP license.  EYC participants will receive the Leveraging your Leadership Series and other new materials.

If you would like to sign-up for or host a regional PDP, CMI, CSEP or EYC training seminar, please contact Stephanie Bland at 703-737-0622 or A minimum of 25 participants is needed to conduct the training.

For the latest seminar information go to:

May 4, 2013
Region V State Farm Funded-Professional Development Program (PDP), Glendale, Ariz.
Registration Deadline: April 19, 2013

May 9, 2013
Region I State Farm Funded – Enhance Your Chapter (EYC), Leesburg, Va.
Registration Deadline: April 25, 2013

May 18, 2013
Region I State Farm Funded – Chapter Management (CMI), Augusta, Maine
Registration Deadline: May 3, 2013

Engage Training for Chapter Advisors, Activate Training for Chapter Leaders and Engage Training for State Officers

April 15th, 2013

Activate TrainingEngage for Teachers

Engage is the two-and-a-half-day teacher training program from SkillsUSA that empowers teachers to grow their SkillsUSA chapters by using the latest information and tools in employability, leadership development and teaching strategies. The program is taught by experts within youth leadership development such as Dr. Tim Elmore. Dr. Elmore will lead participants to discover their vision for Career and Technical Education as it relates to their classroom.

Advisors will dive deep into the world of chapter operations and discover how to use chapter activities as classroom teaching tools. Answers on how to successfully engage students in chapter meetings, committees, recruitment, fundraising, public relations and the entire program of work will be revealed. Teachers will gain the latest techniques involved in giving clear directions, questions, processing and accessing student achievement.

Engage will focus on new educational resources being launched by SkillsUSA at the National Leadership and Skills Conference. Teachers participating in Engage will receive a set of all the new resources as a part of the training.

Activate for Students

SkillsUSA is all about encouraging students to assume leadership roles and to take action, whether at school, at home, or in their communities. SkillsUSA students serve as role models and on teams that get things done.

This three-day leadership conference will help SkillsUSA members find their “start button” through action-oriented, high-energy and motivational programming. Activate is open to all SkillsUSA members.

Participants will be led through a series of self-discovery, hands-on training which will include the following topics: values and character; maximizing strengths and talents; goal-setting; time management; responsibility and self-discipline; image projection; leadership characteristics; leading without a title; teamwork; building trust; conflict resolution; respecting others; communication; serving others and planning a service project. Students will complete the course feeling empowered with the necessary tools for success.

Leverage for State Officers

Leverage will provide officers with high-energy and motivational training that focuses on servant leadership. State officers will be learning in a way that is fun and unique to the SkillsUSA experience. Participation in the training will not only develop and hone the state officers’ own leadership knowledge and skills, but they also will learn how to teach those leadership strategies to the state members that they serve.

State officer teams are important to the success of the organization. What the officers do and how they do it can have a significant impact – not only on the image and essence of SkillsUSA, but also on career and technical education (CTE) in general. While being elected to a leadership position is a worthy accomplishment, it comes with a set of responsibilities. And for the state officer’s own growth and development, it also presents many opportunities that will last a lifetime.

All three trainings will be held June 22-24 in Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Missouri and the cost is $135.00 per participant. Visit: and/or for full details.

CPR Certification Offered during NLSC

April 15th, 2013

The Alumni & Friends Association is proud to offer CPR certification during the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference on Tuesday, June 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Kansas City Downtown Marriott, Truman Room B. Online preregistration is required of all participants at:

Two State Farm Grant Opportunities

April 15th, 2013

State Farm is offering two grant opportunities and has invited SkillsUSA members to participate.

State Farm Service Learning Grants

State Farm logo

State Farm Youth Advisory Board (YAB) service-learning grant applications are available now until May 3. The grants range from $25,000 – $100,000 and are designed to create sustainable change in local communities across the United States and Canada. Public K-12, charter, higher education institutions, and non-profit organizations are eligible if they are able to demonstrate how they plan to impact student achievement within the public K-12 curriculum. All applicants must have a youth contact and adult administrator, as the programs must be youth-driven and youth-led.

Each grant request must fall under one of these issue areas, chosen by the board itself: Community Safety; Environmental Responsibility; Financial Literacy; Access to Higher Education; or, Health and Wellness

As of August 2012, six years after the initial launch of the YAB, the board has awarded more than $24.7 million in grants to organizations in the U.S. and Canada and impacted approximately 14.1 million lives.

Find out more at: You can also check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube! If you have questions, please contact Brad Corriher at

State Farm Celebrate My Drive Program

State Farm is offering a grant opportunity for schools to possibly win either one of 10 $100,000 grants; one of 90 $25,000 grants; or a grand prize concert for a school by a chart-topping music artist.

The program Celebrate My Drive is a safe driving program where one’s community will also be encouraged to make safe driving commitments on behalf of a school during the commitment period. The more commitments made, the better the chances of winning a grant for a school and maybe even a concern by a chart-topping music artist. For more information on the program, please go to:

The University of Phoenix and the Manufacturing Institute Scholarship Opportunity

April 15th, 2013

The University of Phoenix and The Manufacturing Institute are offering ten full-tuition scholarships toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a manufacturing-related degree program at University of Phoenix. Aimed at developing a new generation of skilled and competitive manufacturing workers, the scholarships will allow recipients to choose online or ground classes so they can continue their career while earning their degrees. Eligible candidates must be currently employed by a manufacturer or interested in pursuing a manufacturing career; not be currently enrolled at University of Phoenix; and apply between March 5, 2013 and April 30, 2013.

Visit: for details, including complete eligibility and application information.

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