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Executive Director’s Report: April 15, 2014

April 15th, 2014

Recent Board of Directors’ Meeting
The Board of Directors’ meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, March 12-13, went very well. A big thank you goes to Board President James King and Tennessee State Association Director Chelle Travis for their wonderful hospitality, great meals, transportation and meeting space at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology-Nashville (TCAT).

We were very pleased that so many dignitaries from Tennessee state government and education attended the board kick-off dinner. Nissan sponsored the dinner and attendees included Nissan Technical Training Manager Kevin Smith; Chris Tesmer, IRWIN Industrial Tools; Chancellor John Morgan, Vice Chancellor James King, Carol Puryear and Lynn Goodman from the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR); TBR Board Members Danni Varlan and Emily Reynolds; SkillsUSA National Officers (past and present) Tony Hamblin, Jeremy Ballentine and Gildor Simplice; Representative Harry Brooks (House Education Committee Chair) and Senator Jim Tracy (Senate Education Committee Chair); Tennessee State Association Directors Brandon Hudson (high school division) and Chelle Travis (college/postsecondary division); TCAT Nashville Director Mark Lenz; and, Dr. Chip Harris from Tennessee State University’s Center for Career and Technical Education.

Modex Show
On March 18-19, I attended the Modex Show at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. I was asked by the Materials Handling Institute (MHI) to speak during the career and technical education track of the Modex Show. I provided a keynote presentation on the future skilled workforce and how SkillsUSA is a partial solution to the skills gap being experienced by this industry and many others. The show focused on transportation, distribution and logistics occupations. Other speakers were from both the companies that distribute goods (Target, Walmart, Staples, etc.) and those that build the automated equipment to move goods from manufacturing to warehousing to distribution. The entire show floor was an array of automated warehousing and distribution systems, and it demonstrated how high tech this industry has become. My track included several hundred students and teachers who were involved in the transportation, distribution and logistics education cluster.

SkillsUSA Foundation, Inc. Meeting
The SkillsUSA Foundation met in Louisville, March 25-26, and Dave Worden, Carol Lowery, Kelly Persons and I attended. The meeting was hosted by Snap-on Incorporated and Challenger Lifts. Special thanks to long-time Snap-on friends, Alicia Smales and Greg Rintala who filled in for Alicia during this meeting.

After a full-day meeting on Tuesday, March 25th, Foundation members reconvened on Tuesday, March 26th to walk the exhibit floor at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) and help our Business Partnerships and Development (BPD) team kick off the new, volunteer-led, SkillsUSA-Louisville Advisory Council. The Council is made up of a core group of local business, industry and education leaders from Kentucky and Indiana who will help steward the growing partnership between Louisville and SkillsUSA. The purpose of the Council is to help raise local funding, build awareness and secure in-kind materials and volunteers for the 51st – 56th annual National Leadership and Skills Conferences (NLSC) to be held in Louisville.

In addition, Tim, Dave and Kelly toured the Sullivan College of Technology and Design and met with Michael Covington, HVACR Technology Department chair. Three representatives from Sullivan College joined us during the Circle of Champions Breakfast in January and were excited to talk further about how Sullivan instructors, alumni and students might support NLSC as volunteer judges and technical committee members.

More Travel
From Louisville, I flew to Rhode Island to participate and speak at the SkillsUSA Rhode Island State Leadership and Skills Conference Awards Ceremony. Josh Klemp reported a record number of more than 1,800 students, educators and parents attending. And, there were some very special guests in attendance. Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, State Education Board Chair Eva Mancuso and Deputy Education Commissioner David Talbott all spoke to the group and all were very supportive of the SkillsUSA program in Rhode Island. I was privileged to spend time with all three of them and with State CTE Director Vanessa Cooley. It was also great to see several alumni assisting with the event. Gianna Velino (Region I vice president, 2009-10) had a key role in producing the event and Sheila Vasquez (Region I vice president, 2005-06) delivered the keynote. As a national officer and a culinary student, Sheila had received a full tuition scholarship to Johnson & Wales University where she earned her BS degree. She just completed law school at Florida A&M University and will begin work within the next few weeks as prosecuting attorney in Miami-Dade County. She attributes her success to the love of service she acquired through SkillsUSA. With more than 6,000 members, SkillsUSA is the largest student organization in Rhode Island. Congratulations to State Association Director Josh Klemp and his team for an outstanding celebration for our students in Rhode Island.

We have also received word of top-level government officials attending other state conferences. The Governor will be attending the Illinois conference and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction will be attending the California conference.

On Thursday, March 27, I drove to Boston to meet with the SkillsUSA Massachusetts Board of Directors to assist them with strategic planning and financial strategy.

And, on Friday, March 28, Massachusetts State Association Director Karen Ward arranged visits for me and two executives from Dassault Systems to see two of her local SkillsUSA chapters using best practice examples of employability skills integration into STEM education classrooms. The experience provided a good snapshot into how our CTE schools teach STEM and integrate life skills training into the school day through SkillsUSA curriculum and chapter activities. More on these visits next time.

WorldSkills Americas Competition
The WorldSkills Americas Competition concluded on April 5 and the U.S. team has returned from Bogotá, Colombia with two silver medals and a “Best in Nation.” Jake Wozniak (N.Y.) won a silver medal in cabinetmaking and Mike Mullen (Calif.) won a Silver medal in automobile technology and also earned a “Best in Nation” award. There are some great photos on our website at: www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldskillsamerica.shtml.

Highlights

  • On March 15, Kelly Horton and Carol Lowery attended a STEM conference hosted by Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in California. The objectives of the conference were to showcase STEM in automotive and diesel curriculums and to illustrate to teachers how to become intentional about marketing their CTE program as an integrated STEM classroom. Teachers from California, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming attended.
  • UTI will be hosting an “invitation only” event for teachers from across the country at NLSC with the same objectives as above. Plus, SkillsUSA facilitators will illustrate how to integrate SkillsUSA into their CTE classroom using the STEM model showcased in the workshop.
  • Christen Battaglia was in Washington, D.C. on March 18, meeting with HP LIFE (Hewlett Packard) and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). HP LIFE gives entrepreneurs the skills and IT knowledge they need to manage, build and grow successful small businesses.
  • The 2014-15 school year will feature two distinctly separate Membership Kits. One kit will be specific to high school needs and will include resources that a teacher working in a traditional 9th -12th grade environment or a career center will find useful. And, a college/postsecondary kit is being created in direct response to the action plans that were developed by the College/Postsecondary Task Force this past fall. This kit will contain resources and materials that are unique to the nature of a technical or community college. We anticipate that by working to better meet the needs of these two customer markets, they in turn will be able to reach, recruit and engage more members in their chapters.
  • During the recent board of directors meeting in Nashville, Tenn. the board voted to approve the SkillsUSA Middle School Constitution. This move allows the national staff to begin to structure and organize the middle school chapters that are already in existence throughout the nation. Currently, 10 states are serving the middle school market, and this latest advancement will allow the formalization of chapters and the ability for national staff to quantify and serve this membership. Resources and materials for this market will be developed as funding allows.

That’s it for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

International Degree Applications Due

April 12th, 2014
All applications and portfolios for the International Degree (Level 6 of the Professional Development Program) are now due in state SkillsUSA association offices. The state association PDP review committee must review materials, determine the candidates’ eligibility and forward the application and portfolio to the national office by May 1. For International Degree guidelines, contact Marsha Daves – mdaves@skillsusa.org or call 703-737-0605.

Alumni Night Out During NLSC

April 12th, 2014

The national Alumni Coordinating Committee cordially invites college/postsecondary NLSC participants to enjoy a casual night out with alumni members. Join us and see that being an alumni member has fun benefits! Come to PowerPlay Entertainment Center on Thursday, June 26 at 7 p.m. in Shawnee, Kan. This is an 80,000 square foot state-of-the-art fun center with something for everyone. Purchase any dollar amount on your “PowerCard” depending upon your choice of activities. The PowerCard is sold on site. Transportation will not be provided. The address is PowerPlay South, 13110 W. 62nd Terr., Shawnee, KS 66216.

SkillsUSA National Week of Service: May 4-10

April 11th, 2014
We invite all our chapters to participate in the SkillsUSA National Week of Service on May 4-10. 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 Gayle Silvey at the national headquarters – gsilvey@skillsusa.org. 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: www.skillsusa.org/events/service.shtml.

Activate, Engage and Leverage Training

April 11th, 2014
Activate – for Chapter Student Leaders
Activate will be held June 21–23, 2014, in Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo. The cost is $135 per participant.
Activate is a ground-breaking, two-and-a-half-day leadership conference that will help SkillsUSA members find their “start button” through action-oriented, high-energy and motivational programming. Activate is open to all SkillsUSA members.
During the course of the conference, chapter leaders will discover how to ignite the leader in them and how to maximize their potential. Participants will spend time learning what motivates them and how to motivate others. They will take a look at what it means to present a positive image — and the effects that image can have not only on themselves, but also on their school, SkillsUSA and career and technical education. Students will complete the course feeling empowered with the necessary tools for success. Visit: skillsusa-register.org to register for Activate.
Engage – for Chapter Advisors
Engage will be held June 21–23, 2014, in Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo. The cost is $135 per participant.
Engage is the teacher training program from SkillsUSA that empowers teachers to grow their chapters. This two-and-one-half-day professional development training conference is designed to help teachers better understand and use the many leadership development materials and interactive resources available through SkillsUSA.
Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, will present a high-energy, interactive and entertaining experience that will leave attendees inspired, motivated and with the practical skills to dramatically increase student engagement.
Engage will focus on new educational resources being launched by SkillsUSA at its national conference. Participants will unpack the new resources and share best practices on how to implement these tools for the greatest impact in their chapters. Teachers participating in Engage will receive a set of all the new resources as a part of the training. Visit: skillsusa-register.org  to register for Engage.
Leverage – for State Officers
Leverage is an intensive, two-and-a-half-day leadership experience open to high school and college/postsecondary state officers. It provides state officers with high-energy, motivational training that focuses on servant leadership. Officers will learn in a way that’s fun and unique to the SkillsUSA experience.
SkillsUSA’s state officers are the front-line leaders and managers within the organization. They are responsible for state association activities, recruitment, student development and peer-to-peer communication. Within this role, officers support both individual growth and the growth of the organization. An effective officer embraces personal accountability, accepts a higher level of responsibility, and seeks to create valuable experiences for members at the local level.
All three trainings will take place June 21-23, 2014 in Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Mo. and the cost is $135 per participant.  For complete details visit:  www.skillsusa.org/events/training.shtml.

Sample Press Release for State Competitions Available Now

April 11th, 2014

A sample template release is on the SkillsUSA advocacy site. It’s a template to be used by state association directors, instructors and others to get the word out to the media and Congress about the students who qualified to compete or won in the state SkillsUSA Championships. The news release can be sent to local news media through the advocacy site, five outlets at a time. It is also possible to send the release to your U.S. Senators and Representatives. The site can be reached by going to http://capwiz.com/skillsusa/home/. We encourage all teachers to use this valuable tool to promote their students and instructional programs.

Advance College Credit at Park University to Contestants In Selected Competitions

April 11th, 2014

Park University is collaborating with SkillsUSA to provide advance college credit at the 50th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) to contestants for their performance in selected competitions.

Founded in 1875, Park University is a private, non-profit institution fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  The University offers 59 undergraduate degree and certificate programs, which include nine associate degrees, 46 bachelor degrees, and four certificate programs. Annually, the University serves over 22,000 students at our Parkville, Missouri, flagship campus, online, and at campus centers in 21 states.

To see the list of applicable competitions, the selected courses and apply for advance college credit, visit  https://app.park.edu/SkillsUSA/form.aspx. The cost per credit hour is $85. If you have questions, please contact  Wakisha.Briggs@park.edu or by phone to 816-584-6859.

Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Scholarship Reminder

April 11th, 2014
Through a donation from the Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Fund, SkillsUSA and the McMinn County Vocational Center SkillsUSA Alumni Association are offering a $500 scholarship to a high school SkillsUSA student in memory of Sharon Melton Myers. The Sharon Melton Myers Memorial SkillsUSA Scholarship fund will provide graduating high school SkillsUSA members of this year’s graduating class the opportunity to continue their education in college or technical school.
Candidates can nominate themselves. All nominations must include two letters of recommendation from any of the following individuals: a) instructors; b) SkillsUSA advisors; c) State Association Director; d) Community leader.  A nomination form can be downloaded from SkillsUSA’s website at https://skillsusa.wufoo.com/forms/r7x1q3/.  Please note that incomplete applications, those missing requested information and appropriate signatures, will be disqualified and not be evaluated. Only high school seniors are eligible for this scholarship. Nominations must be postmarked by April 30. If you have questions, please contact Karen Beatty (703) 737-0624, kbeatty@skillsusa.org.

Executive Director’s Report: April 1, 2014

April 1st, 2014

Connecting STEM, Manufacturing and Technician Service
On March 7, I spent the day with our good friends at STEMconnector in Washington DC. The day-long meeting was held at KPMG, just blocks from The White House. STEMconnector continues to gain momentum and build powerful connections with top leaders from business, government and education. Just two days prior, the organization held an event for Women in STEM at the U.S. Capitol, and it was attended by 67 Congressmen, Congresswomen and Senators. Edie Fraser, STEMconnector CEO, absolutely loves SkillsUSA, and she made sure I had a speaking opportunity and was able to inform the 200-member organization about SkillsUSA. We also agreed to host a meeting of STEMconnector at the 2015 NLSC. STEMconnector has published a book “Top 100 CEOs in STEM” and has now published the “Top 100 Women in STEM.” It is a very young organization, but it has become very powerful within corporate America in a short period of time. I am excited that SkillsUSA is a partner, and we are in the middle of the conversation.

Another result of the meetings with STEMconnector has been a connection with their “Life Skills Committee.” Al Bundshaft from Dassault Systems (USA headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts) leads this committee, and they are seeking best practices in integrating life skills (what we call employability skills) into STEM education classrooms. Al and I connected and the Dassault team, met with Karen Ward, state association director from Massachusetts and me, and we visited SkillsUSA Chapters last week in the Boston area. Our PDP and leadership program is heavily integrated in these schools, and I know they came away with a solid knowledge of how our program and curriculum fits the bill as one of the best practices they were searching for.

On March 8, National High School Vice President Laura Gouillon from California joined me in Peoria, Illinois for a whirlwind round of presentations to a variety of manufacturing and community groups. SkillsUSA Foundation member and former Board president Cameron Ferguson of Caterpillar arranged for the visit, and it was a great opportunity to inform a very diverse group of organizations about SkillsUSA. On Sunday, Laura and I spoke to the Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning (OLLI) at a gathering at Bradley University. OLLI is made up of retired executives from area business and industry, and community organizations are very supportive of the group. I provided a 20-minute overview of SkillsUSA from a national perspective, and Laura delivered an incredible presentation about her experience in “SkillsUSA, STEM and CTE.” Laura used powerful examples of how her academics have been enhanced through real-world learning and how SkillsUSA has helped her grow to the point where she now has aspirations of becoming an electrical engineer. She has applied to several top universities and has already been accepted at USC with a full-tuition scholarship. She is a great example of a SkillsUSA leader and a wonderful role model for youth.

On Monday, we had a full day with several groups at CAT. We spoke first with the global dealer support group, providing some of the same information from the previous day’s presentation. We then had a great meeting with all the CAT volunteers from the Peoria corporate offices who support SkillsUSA at the national and state levels. Our next stop was at the CAT Visitors Center where we spoke to the Specialized Manufacturing Group and several area school administrators and teachers, including the Chairman of the Peoria District 150 School Board. This was a 90-minute presentation with several questions and lots of interaction. We also had the advisor and several student leaders from our college chapter at Illinois Central College participate in the meetings. Following lunch, we traveled to another CAT facility and had a one-on-one conversation with Gwenne Henricks, CAT’s Vice President of Product Development and Global Technology. Gwenne is also CAT’s Chief Technology Officer and an electrical engineer, so she and Laura had a great conversation.

We then traveled to Illinois Central College in East Peoria where we met the SkillsUSA chapter officers and toured the campus, including the CAT “Think Big” dealer technician training program. It’s always great to see our students in action, especially when one of our key partners is supporting the school in a “Big” way. And, finally, Cameron made sure that Laura had a chance to experience the “Big Iron” as we ended our visit at the CAT equipment demonstration and training center. Laura got to see and climb aboard some of CAT’s large trucks and loaders. She was very excited to get an up close and personal view of what heavy equipment looks like. What a thrill for any teenager! You can see some of the photos of this experience on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153892007000591.1073741901.22208255590&type=1.

A BIG thank you goes out to Cameron Ferguson and the CAT team for such a great opportunity and experience for both one of our student leaders and for me personally!

Applying Skills Internationally in Pursuit of Access to Clean Water
The Business Partnerships and Development office is working on a project for SkillsUSA to collaborate with the World Plumbing Council to field a multi-disciplined team of three students (plumbers and engineers under the age of 26) to compete at the Water Innovation Challenge in Singapore, June 3 – 5, 2014. The theme of this pilot competition sponsored by WorldSkills Foundation is “new water–ways in which to create and control water supplies in specific international community environments.”

Teams will participate in a series of hands-on design challenges and practical tasks. The competition will take place over three days as the teams develop a series of real and innovative solutions for emerging water and sanitation problems in two developing countries: Nepal and Bangladesh.

The challenge’s impact on developing countries looks promising. Design toolkits created by winning teams during the competition will be made available to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international development organizations to support innovative individual plumbing and sanitation development projects around the world.

 

We look forward to keeping you informed as SkillsUSA college/postsecondary students are confirmed and prepare for the challenge.

Record-setting Membership Year
SkillsUSA is enjoying a record-setting membership year with 309,590 members to date. This number represents the highest level of paid membership in the organization’s history as well as the largest growth in membership since school year 2007-2008. A great deal of work has been completed over the past several years by the entire staff, and the organization as a whole that has lead to this substantial increase in membership over previous years. We believe this record-setting membership year can be attributed to working hard to understand our customers and meet their needs. We have provided a new and improved membership kit, a new hotline dedicated to answer membership questions, membership registration site enhancements, new educational resources, state association director workshops and new advisor toolkits. The following chart shows members served since 2005:

Membership Chart

 

College/Postsecondary Reach on the Rise
The College/Postsecondary Task Force met last November and the action plans developed at that time are now being put into motion. SkillsUSA’s new business partner, CBC, is organizing, filming and producing a video and poster series that will help to raise awareness in the college/postsecondary target market. The theme of the series is how SkillsUSA has been instrumental in preparing members to get jobs, a better job or to make more money. The video production will take place in Nashville, Tennessee the first week of May. Alumni members from the Tennessee college/postsecondary division have stepped up to participate. Several business partners will also be lending their voices to the cause and will appear on camera in support of hiring SkillsUSA members. Special thanks go to CBC for sharing their talents and expertise and to James King, SkillsUSA Board President and Vice Chancellor for the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) and Chelle Travis, SkillsUSA Tennessee college/postsecondary State Director, for committing their time and energies to this project.

Highlights

  • Air Products has agreed to sponsor the 100% Advisor Session during conference.
  • The updated What is SkillsUSA? video, has been completed and is being duplicated. It will be a sales item.
  • Niki Clausen and Heidi Walsh recently returned from Kansas City where they met with the national officers to practice for the NLSC.

That’s it for now. Thanks for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.

Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Scholarship Reminder

March 31st, 2014

Through a donation from the Sharon Melton Myers Memorial Fund, SkillsUSA and the McMinn County Vocational Center SkillsUSA Alumni Association are offering a $500 scholarship to a high school SkillsUSA student in memory of Sharon Melton Myers. The fund will provide graduating high school SkillsUSA members of this year’s graduating class the opportunity to continue their education in college or technical school.

Sharon Ruth Melton Myers was an active member of the McMinn County Vocational Center SkillsUSA Chapter from 1985 through 1988. During this time, Sharon participated in local, state and national SkillsUSA activities. She served as a local officer in 1986 and 1987, Tennessee State Secretary in 1986-87 and National President in 1987-88. Sharon also participated in the Chapter’s Opening and Closing Team in 1986, 87 and 88. Following graduation from McMinn High in 1988, Sharon continued as an active supporter of SkillsUSA, serving as a National Officer Trainer for several years. Sharon was active in establishing a Tennessee SkillsUSA Alumni Charter and Constitution while attending David Lipscomb College in Nashville. Sharon was totally committed and dedicated to the ideals of SkillsUSA and actively worked for the advancement of this Youth Leadership Organization.

A judging committee comprised of Catherine Melton and National SkillsUSA staff will review the nominations and select the national winner.

Candidates can nominate themselves. All nominations must include two letters of recommendation from any of the following individuals: a) instructors; b) SkillsUSA advisors; c) State Association Director; d) Community leader.  A nomination form can be downloaded from SkillsUSA’s website at https://skillsusa.wufoo.com/forms/r7x1q3/.  Please note that incomplete applications, those missing requested information and appropriate signatures, will be disqualified and not be evaluated. Only high school seniors are eligible for this scholarship.

Nominations must be submitted by April 30. If you have questions, please contact Karen Beatty 703-737-0624, kbeatty@skillsusa.org.


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