The SkillsUSA Washington Leadership Training Institute definitely hit a new registration high with 371 attending representing 29 states and Puerto Rico. It took seven buses just to get the group around. We had some great presenters, including Johan Uvin, the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education and Robin Utz and Sharon Miller also from OVAE. We also had representatives from ACTE, NASDCTEc, NASSP, The College Board and Jobs for the Future talking about advocacy, opportunities and challenges for career and technical education. It was a great five days.
I met with the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) on September 12 at OVAE in Washington, D.C. This was my first meeting with LeAnn Wilson, the new executive director of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). LeAnn told me she is impressed by the work of SkillsUSA and has even been using some of our videos in her own CTE promotion. She announced that the theme for the 2014 CTE Month will be “Celebrate CTE Superheroes” and ACTE has posted a number of resources online to promote CTE Month at: https://www.acteonline.org/ctemonth/#.UjNheX_hd2M.
- On the advocacy front and use of social media, SkillsUSA posted an alert and a sample letter about federal funding for Perkins on our website before Labor Day. we posted an announcement on September 12 with our followers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr. On Facebook, we used the ACTE infographic on CTE Funding. As of September 26, the links had been shared 64 times and over 6,956 people have seen the post. And, we have the final numbers for government offices reached following national conference with the names of winners. We wrote to 98 U.S. Senators, 289 U.S. Representatives (that’s two-thirds of the House) and 49 governors plus one territorial governor. We’re getting replies from congressional offices, some talking about setting up school visits when they’re back in the districts.
- A September 11 posting by David Hoey, CEO of WorldSkills International praises the work of Patrick Klarecki, our chief expert in Print Media Technology, and Bruce Kenworthy for winning the Sustainability Award during the WorldSkills competition. The Sustainability Award is a big deal at WorldSkills and we commend Pat and his technical committee for being models of how to reduce waste, reuse and recycle. For further information, go to: http://tinyurl.com/qf8es2r.
- Staff reported that the new membership hotline that assists teachers in starting a new chapter, discovering ways to engage more members and strategies to strengthen their existing chapters, is enjoying a surge of activity. We’re currently tracking 337 teachers and will continue to provide support to these teachers in anticipation that it will lead to membership registration and a stronger chapter structure. To date, 69 percent of callers are teachers that are currently non-advisors and are learning about SkillsUSA for the first time in their quest to take the lead of an existing chapter or start a new chapter. A large number of callers, 39 percent in fact, are starting a brand new SkillsUSA chapter.
- I’m happy to welcome Joe Morgan of the Kentucky Department of Education as the new chair of the SkillsUSA Championships Executive Committee. Joe will be representing education on the committee and stepping in for the always wonderful Francie Russell. Joe will serve for one year on the YDF committee.
- On September 13, I took Mega Prize winner Mike Benton and his wife on a tour of the Capitol before we went to a Washington Nationals baseball game. The day began with a reception with all of the national staff and a tour of the national headquarters. I can say confidently that Mike and his wife had a wonderful time, thanks in part to our mega prize sponsor, N.E.W.
SkillsUSA is pleased to announce a partnership with K2Share as our new platform provider for the Work Force Ready System Skill Connect Assessments. K2Share is the same company that administers the CareerSafe program and the assessment for the 10-hour OSHA safety credential. We are excited about our new platform and the new features that will be offered to our customers as a result of this change.
Pricing remains the same at $20 per assessment or $10 per assessment for the number of SkillsUSA members in the previous school year. For details visit our website at this link.
We have a new phone number, email address and extended hours of operation for customer support!
Help Desk Support Hours: Mon- Fri 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Eastern
For additional information, please visit our website at: www.workforcereadysystem.org.
Lowe’s continues a fifth year of generosity with another round of SkillsUSA grants in 2014. Two grant opportunities are available.
The Schools In Need Grant program is to identify schools, classrooms or instructors who have a very basic need to improve the quality of students’ educational experience. Grants will be awarded ranging from $2,500 to $25,000. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2013.
Grant applications should detail the need for classroom improvements, upgrading or providing tangible tools for learning technical skills, leadership development opportunities, or providing competition clothing that will enable students to compete at SkillsUSA events. In addition, those applicants who can outline their plan to “pay it forward” by planning and implementing a project or event that will allow them to use the tools or skills obtained due to receiving the grant dollars will stand a greater chance of receiving funding. The best projects will detail how the outcome will provide a life-changing experience for the beneficiaries of the grant dollars. Grant recipients will be announced and funds awarded in January 2014.
CareerSafe Grants will be awarded to schools in the form of vouchers that allow students to take an online assessment and earn their OSHA 10-hour Construction or General Industry safety credential. Vouchers will be awarded based on SkillsUSA membership and use of vouchers in previous years. New applications will receive priority over schools applying for consecutive years; however, all are encouraged to apply. The deadline for applications is December 1, 2013. Vouchers will be awarded in January 2014.
Grant information and applications are available here. For questions, call Carol Lowery, Lowe’s Grant Manager at 641-456-4515 or 641-512-0504.
SkillsUSA is offering e-learning opportunities to all advisors. These 45-minute webinars will help prepare advisors 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:
- Integrating SkillsUSA into the classroom environment – Thursday, October 3
- SkillsUSA programs – Tuesday, October 8
- Student leadership development – Thursday, October 10
- Preparing for the SkillsUSA Championships – Tuesday, October 15
Materials, speakers and panelists are ready to go for the largest WLTI ever at 373 students, advisors and state directors from 30 states compared to 314 last year. Johan Uvin, the deputy assistant secretary at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education will be our featured luncheon speaker and Robin Utz, chief of the College and Career Transitions Branch and Sharon Miller, director of Academic and Technical Education from OVAE will be our featured morning speakers. We also have some great panels coming together for the advisors and the students thanks to our friends at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Association State Directors of Career and Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the College Board, and Jobs for the Future. There are four new states attending and 14 of 15 national officers will be with us.
- Marsha Daves had 26 Washington state teachers and administrators attend her Professional Development Program training session at Puget Sound Skills Center near Seattle on Saturday, August 24. The session was funded by State Farm and state director Bruce McBurney and Denny Wallace also attended.
- A SkillsUSA student and teacher have been selected for interviews during the nationwide PBS broadcast entitled “American Graduate Day” on Saturday, September 28. Also scheduled for the broadcast are short videos about CTE and SkillsUSA featuring John McGlade, Air Products, Glenda Bonds, an instructor at Cross Key High School in Atlanta, and Mike Rowe. For more information, go to http://americangraduate.org/grad-day.
- We have the early results from his survey of 668 SkillsUSA Championships technical committees. He’s heard back from 157 individuals (23.5 percent) and hopes to hear back from as many as a third. Among the interesting responses he’s received (and bearing in mind they’re all preliminary): 80 percent of the respondents say they plan to transition to Louisville; when asked how well students were prepared for the contests, 48 percent said better than last year and 45 percent said the same; and, when asked if contests reflect industry expectations for contests, 45 percent strongly agree and 43 percent somewhat agree.
- We’re starting to gear up for a new year in advocacy in Washington. Following the lead of ACTE and NASDCTEc, SkillsUSA has posted an alert and a sample letter on the SkillsUSA Advocacy Site so teachers and others can weigh in on the importance of restoring federal funding for CTE. Just visit http://www.capwiz.com/skillsusa/home/.
Since 2010, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act funding has been cut by more than $140 million and because of sequestration, Perkins will lose an additional $58 million for the 2013-14 school year. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a funding bill that restores recent cuts made to Perkins by sequestration and provides funding at the FY 2012 level. As of late August, the House had not released its appropriations bill for education and workforce development programs.
SkillsUSA, in cooperation with the Association for Career and Technical Education, asks that our constituents write to their Members of Congress to ask them to increase funding for CTE – back to the FY2010 level.
An alert and message has been posted on the SkillsUSA CapWiz site. To send a letter to your Senators and to your Representative, go to: http://capwiz.com/skillsusa/home/. Enter your zip code and the rest is self-explanatory. Please spread the word and take a few minutes to write to your Members of Congress and help CTE regain the Perkins funding it needs.
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 as a professional member of SkillsUSA and have a minimum of 15 members in their training program. Here is how it works – advisors 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 stay in the drawing until they either win or until the program ends. The program will run from September 16-November 15, 2013.