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Highlights

August 29th, 2013
  • I’ve met twice with a local management consultant – and another meeting is scheduled for early in September – to discuss creation of a human resources plan. We’ll begin by conducting an analysis of SkillsUSA’s structure and processes, including staffing and staff succession, so we know we are appropriately aligned to meet the goals in Vision 2020.
  • We held a staff meeting on August 6 and the chief topic was the 2013 National Leadership and Skills Conference. Small cross-departmental teams reviewed the national conference and offered up their five best superlatives and five major challenges. Among the superlatives: excellent general sessions, particularly the quality of the speakers; good news media coverage; the registration process went well with improvements implemented during the past two years; addition of TAG Tuesday for delegates; and YDF Breakfast and Challenge Fund. We also did some brainstorming for the 50th anniversary celebration.
  • The Challenge Fund held during conference raised $140,000 from corporate and individual contributions. All monies were dedicated to the Skills Build America Campaign.
  • We’re finding SkillsUSA appearing more frequently in papers and books focusing on skill gaps and worker shortages. One of the most recent is in the book The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America’s Future. The central thesis by author Gary Beach is that the widening “skills gap” in math and science is a threat to America’s future, and business should get involved. The very first example of a public-private partnership — in the chapter entitled “Let’s Build Some Arks” — is SkillsUSA, 1965. He wrote in the chapter: “Do your homework and learn more about CTE.” Beach called our offices last week to say “SkillsUSA was way ahead of the game.”
  • SkillsUSA will be featured in a nationwide PBS broadcast entitled “American Graduate Day” on Saturday September 28. The program is about community organizations that are successful in preventing dropouts. SkillsUSA will be both an example of a community organization and of CTE. We have been compiling stories of students who stayed in school and have gone on to greater things thanks to SkillsUSA, their instructors and others. There will be much more to tell in the coming weeks.
  • Bob Baird of the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), chair of our Industrial Motor Control contest and long-time friend of SkillsUSA, came to visit on August 7 to discuss ways IEC and SkillsUSA can support each other at local, state and national levels. Support from IEC would include work by its chapters in training, contests, and advocacy. We also spoke of possible support from some of IEC’s corporate members. Bob expressed interest in the Professional Development Program as a curriculum for apprentices.
  • I attended a meeting between youth organizations and the Army at Ft. Myer to discuss the Army’s SAY Program (Strengthening America’s Youth) The Army involved us in a discussion of STEM education and recruiting the best youth with technical skills into the military. I suggested, and it was well received, that the Army give preference through rank and pay to students who come to them with technical and leadership credentials such as being a SkillsUSA officer or a leader in another student organization. The dialogue continued the following day when the representatives of the Army visited our office to discuss our 2014 partnership.
  • Jacob Wozniak of Springville, New York won the qualifying trial in Cabinetmaking for a spot on the 2015 SkillsUSA WorldTeam. Jacob will compete in Sao Paulo, Brazil in August 2015. He is a graduate of the Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES program and he won the 2012 high school Gold medal in Cabinetmaking. Jacob competed against Caleb Floyd, the 2012 high school Silver medalist from Kathleen, Ga. and Warner-Robins High School, and Brett Sidesinger of Topeka, Kan. and Washburn Tech, who was the highest scoring age-eligible contestant from the 2013 Cabinetmaking contest. The Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial was conducted at the biennial AWFS Fair in late July at the Las Vegas Convention Center, thanks to the generous in-kind sponsorship of the Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS).  WorldTeam Cabinetmaking technical expert Rob Tobias of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, PA, served as the chief judge.
  • I recently received a note from Daniel Berrios, our 2013 WorldSkills Cabinetmaking competitor about his experience in Germany. “The WorldSkills competition was one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I have ever had. It felt like the Olympics. The mixture of cultures, languages, and people really brought about a sense of unity and equality among all competitors. The confusion and excitement are hard to put into words, but in the end it was all about a good friendly competition; no politics nor boarders, just people doing what they love to do with a focus on winning a medal. The competition itself was intense, and the cabinet was one of the most difficult projects I had ever done, with lots of complex angles, cuts, and joints all while thousands of people watched my every move. Every cut had to be perfect and nothing less would suffice, although, I do admit I did make a few mistakes on my cabinet. But, I have no regrets on how I built my project, and if I had the opportunity again, I would do it in a heartbeat.”
  • Speaking of quotes, here’s an excerpt from an email by Judy Rambert of Pivot Point, a long-time supporter of SkillsUSA and the WorldTeam. She wrote after listening to my remarks during the recent Congressional Roundtable: “I sat listening to your speech on Capitol Hill tonight, and it reminded me why Pivot Point cherishes our involvement with SkillsUSA. Your message captured our commitment to the youth of our profession. Students involved in SkillsUSA chapters have superb statistics of completing their education. You all must be so proud!”
  • And, the Best of Brand Awards were presented during the state directors’ conference in South Portland, Maine. Congratulations go to Best of Innovation: Advocacy – Tennessee college/postsecondary; Best of Innovation: Membership Growth and Engagement – Michigan; Best of Brand: Print – Wisconsin; Best of Brand: Multi-media – Arizona; and, Best of Brand: Website – Oregon.

Advisor Membership Incentives

August 29th, 2013

When advisors register at least 15 student members plus one or more professionals by November 15, 2013, they will receive a free copy of Leveraging Your Leadership with Effective Chapter Meetings, The Teacher’s Guide, SkillsUSA’s brand-new guide for enhancing classroom instruction.

Also, instructors who submit a roster with 100 percent membership plus one or more professionals also will receive a SkillsUSA Program of Work calendar (value: $5.95).

Remember, the membership roster must be submitted online by November 15th to receive these free items.

And, sponsored by the Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation, advisors will be eligible to win a $50 Lowe’s gift card when they submit SkillsUSA membership if they are a professional member of SkillsUSA and have a minimum of 15 members in their training program. Here is how it works – they register their members online at the SkillsUSA website and then each day the national headquarters will draw the name of one lucky advisor and will notify winning advisors on Friday of each week. Advisor names will continue to stay in the drawing until they win or until the program ends. The program will run from September 16-November 15, 2013.

E-learning opportunities

August 28th, 2013

SkillsUSA is offering E-learning opportunities to all advisors. These 45-minute webinars will help prepare them for a great year. They will get practical answers and useful solutions to empower students to lead their chapter to success. Each E-learning session will be presented at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (EDT) on the scheduled day. Advisors can register for the time they find most convenient by using the link: www.skillsusa.org/join/elearning.shtml. After registering, they will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. In addition, they will receive a free resource item just for attending E-learning. The session dates follow:

  • Tools for managing your chapter – Tuesday, Sept. 3
  • Lesson plans to illustrate the “why” of CTE and SkillsUSA – Thursday, Sept. 5
  • Membership recruitment – Tuesday, Sept. 10
  • Landing page and membership registration – Tuesday, Sept. 17
  • Electing chapter officers – Tuesday, Sept. 24
  • Managing successful chapter meetings – Thursday, Sept. 26
  • Program of work development – Tuesday, Oct. 1
  • Integrating SkillsUSA into the classroom environment – Thursday, Oct. 3
  • SkillsUSA programs – Tuesday, Oct. 8
  • Student leadership development – Thursday, Oct. 10
  • Preparing for the SkillsUSA Championships – Tuesday, Oct. 15

New Educational Products

August 28th, 2013

RESOLUTE: Ethics at WorkRESOLUTE: Ethics at Work Cards
As students enter the workforce, they will face a variety of ethical dilemmas that require well-developed decision-making and problem-solving skills. The decisions they make will influence the quality of their work environment as well as the quality of their productivity. They will interact with a diverse group of coworkers from various cultural backgrounds, as they work together to solve problems that have ethical implications. RESOLUTE: Ethics at Work Cards are a collection of scenarios that represent day-to-day dilemmas that workers of many occupations are likely to face on their jobs. As students wrestle with these dilemmas in a classroom setting, they gain new insights about conflicting values, and discover a variety of possible options and consequences. These engaging activities challenge students to work together to resolve ethical dilemmas, and expose them to a variety of values and cultures. To order go to: www.skillsusa.org/store/ResoluteEthics.html.

Results to Honor Cards
Honor CardsMost of us would agree that hearing the words “good job” or “nice work” is encouraging. But when we get a compliment, praise or “thank you” that is targeted and specific, it can be even more meaningful to us.

When we acknowledge the specific, positive actions and behaviors of our students, we help them to grow. The Results to Honor Cards are a user-friendly teaching tool designed to reinforce the character and leadership skills that lead to success in the classroom, workplace and other areas of their lives. The set consists of seven different cards, designed around SkillsUSA’s Champions at Work’s seven key words—connected, motivated, respected, educated, involved, skilled and prepared. They both complement and reinforce the SkillsUSA from Quotes to Results poster series, released last year. To order go to: www.skillsusa.org/store/honorcards.html.

Educated and Skilled to Lead America Video Competition

August 28th, 2013

Video contest

“SkillsUSA: Champions at Work, Educated and Skilled to Lead America” is SkillsUSA’s theme this year and the students’ challenge will be to create a video that showcases how members are becoming educated.

“Educated and Skilled to Lead America” is SkillsUSA’s theme this year and the students’ challenge will be to create a video that showcases how members are becoming educated. The video could show what their classroom or lab looks like, what they are learning, and their specific skills and how they show them off. This is their opportunity to tell their story.

Only high school and college/postsecondary students who are current registered members of SkillsUSA can enter and membership will be verified for each entry. The work can be done by an individual, a team or an entire class.

Entries should be between 2-3 minutes in length. The entry needs to uploaded to YouTube at: www.youtube.com. (They should allow up to a 24-hour registration process and become familiar with YouTube prior to uploading the video.) Email the video entry link to Kelly Horton at khorton@skillsusa.org. The deadline for entries is November 15, 2013.

Entries must contain only original material (including music, images, etc.) unless written permission has been obtained. No trademarked, copyrighted or otherwise branded materials, logos or products may be used except for the SkillsUSA logo. A panel of SkillsUSA partners will judge the entries and the top five entries will then be voted on by the public.

Winning video teams and/or their schools will receive prizes and recognition provided by SkillsUSA. The winning videos will be aired on the SkillsUSA website. The winning school will receive a $300 award. Up to two honorable mention awards of $100 each may also be distributed.

There is no charge for submitting an entry and participants may submit up to two entries. Entries will be disqualified if they contain vulgar or inappropriate content, are uploaded later than November 15 or use copyrighted material.

There is no limit on the number of students who can work on a video. The video must be entered under one chapter name, and there will only be one prize awarded for the winning video. For additional questions or information, email Kelly Horton: khorton@skillsusa.org. Complete contest details can be found at: www.skillsusa.org/compete/edskillvideo.shtml.

Call for SkillsUSA Talent

August 28th, 2013

National anthem singerDo you know a talented singer in your state who would enjoy a special performance opportunity? SkillsUSA seeks talented singers for the Opening Ceremony or Awards Ceremony during the 2014 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. We are looking for a SkillsUSA student or professional member to sing the national anthem or another patriotic song appropriate for opening special sessions. Singers may sing a capella or to a pre-recorded instrumental track. Audition tapes must be the singing of the national anthem.

Send in all audition videotapes of the national anthem only on CD or DVD, postmarked by February 1, 2014 to: Heidi Walsh, SkillsUSA, 14001 SkillsUSA Way, Leesburg, VA 20176. Questions may be directed to Heidi at 703-737-0615 or hwalsh@skillsusa.org.

 

Great Group of National Officers

August 15th, 2013

Our 15 student national officers are always an impressive group of people. That seems particularly true this year. The officers were here on July 23-31 for some extensive and intensive training on their roles in SkillsUSA, public speaking, parliamentary procedure, news media interviews, etiquette, and planning and conducting workshops. Of course, throughout the week a lot of effort went into helping the students to bond as a team including the Inner Quest Challenge, usually called “The Ropes Course” because of some of the most memorable and challenging events in the course. (I know because I was there. More than one student had to overcome a fear of heights.) And, the officers were all briefed by the department directors on the work of their offices.

Judging by the obvious enthusiasm of the entire group, I’d say the goal to create a cohesive team was met. To see the officers and their offices – selected within the group by the end of the week – please go to: www.skillsusa.org/students/officers.shtml. Congratulations and thanks go to past national officers Jeremy Ballentine and Jonathan Irizarry and to our staff members for a successful launch.

Presentation on Capitol Hill

August 15th, 2013

On July 23, I spoke at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill to representatives from approximately 25 congressional offices as a panelist during a round table hosted by the CTE Caucus. The topic was the role each of the panelists’ organizations play in student guidance. I was joined by a guidance counselor from Fairfax County, Virginia representing the American School Counselors Association and the director of government affairs of Opportunity Nation, a collaboration of more than 250 national community organizations. I covered many aspects of the SkillsUSA program and how we help engage students (and teachers), keep students in school and help them make connections to further education and to the workforce. I told the listeners that these are not necessarily examples of what school guidance counselors do, but they certainly give guidance counselors handles to grab onto. Reaction was positive. At the beginning of my remarks, I asked how many of those present knew about SkillsUSA. Nearly every hand went up. Nice. To listen to my remarks, please go to: http://tinyurl.com/mtoluax.

Highlights

August 14th, 2013
  • Jonathan Irizarry , past national secretary and I met with other career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) on July 25 during the National FFA Washington Leadership Institute (WLI). FFA pulls together all of its state presidents for training and Hill visits during its WLI. SkillsUSA was invited to participate in student and educator panels with other organizations to discuss opportunities and concerns of CTSOs. In all, four student organizations participated and representatives from the Association for Career and Technical Education. Among the top concerns of the adults were engaging students, alumni, membership growth and finding ways to honor instructors. I talked about engagement in our strategic plan and Vision 2020. Jonathan did very well talking about leadership training at WLTI, state certified trainers, and training at national conference. He also talked about a day-long symposium he’d put together in Puerto Rico where he used the WLTI experience as a model and brought in local businesses to do the training. Students were engaged and networking too.
  • The National Coordinating Council of the CTSOs (NCC-CTSO) met on July 30. Among the topics of conversation were high school redesign and higher education initiatives at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education; prospects for education legislation in Washington (parties are very far apart and likely there will have to be a continuing resolution to keep funding at current levels); and, creation of a NCC-CTSO website. The website project is being led by a SkillsUSA staffer. Also of interest, the CTSOs have compiled their membership numbers by state and by congressional district and produced state profile fliers to be used with their elected representatives. When we add up the members of all the organizations, it’s more than two million people. The fliers will be released later in the year.
  • Videos of the speeches and presentations made during the Creating Pathways to Prosperity Conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in March 2013 are now available online at: http://tinyurl.com/l9oqaex. The video of remarks by Nick Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-on can be seen at: http://tinyurl.com/mwjxy9l. Remarks by a former Massachusetts student state officer from Blackstone Valley Vocational Regional High School speaking as part of a student panel appear at the 44:29 mark at: http://tinyurl.com/mwjxy9l.
  • Former Collision Repair Technology contest technical committee member, Bob Medved, interviewed Mike Rowe about the skills gap on Collision Hub during the national conference. A copy of the video appears on the mikeroweWORKS website at: www.mikeroweworks.com/2013/07/mike-rowe-explains-the-skills-gap-at-skillsusa-2013/.

New National Awards for Our Materials

August 14th, 2013

APEX Awards logoFour SkillsUSA projects have earned Awards of Excellence in the annual APEX (Awards for Publication Excellence) program:

  • Annual Reports, Electronic and Web: SkillsUSA 2012 Annual Report
  • Magazines and Journals, Print: SkillsUSA Champions
  • Member and Customer Communications: 2012-2013 SkillsUSA Membership Kit
  • Social Media: SkillsUSA’s Twitter Page

APEX awards are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content and overall communications excellence. For 25 years, APEX has judged and presented these awards to professional communicators. Out of about 2,400 total entries this year, only 971 were recognized for outstanding work. Other winners included familiar names such as AARP; The Wall Street Journal; Walt Disney Co.; and Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.


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