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ACTIVE ADVISOR NEWS: March 2014

February 26th, 2014

Update from Tim Lawrence

Membership Deadline: Monday, March 3
The 2013-2014 SkillsUSA membership deadline is quickly approaching. All membership should be submitted by March 3, 2014 to be included as an official SkillsUSA member for this school year as well as be considered eligible to participate as a contestant in district and state competition and at the National Leadership and Skills Conference. Students must also be official members to run for district, state or national office or to serve as a voting delegate at all levels. Advisors should also ensure that they are registered as professional members. A few states have earlier deadlines; so, be sure and contact your state director if you have questions. If you have any challenges in registering members or questions concerning membership, please do not hesitate to contact Susan Trent or Judy Garrison.

SkillsUSA Week and CTE Month

A big thank you to all chapters that engaged students in special activities for SkillsUSA Week and CTE Month. We received several uplifting stories from our chapters about activities they were conducting as a part of the celebration. The following link shows a great tweet from our Cypress Bay Chapter in Florida and how they decorated their school for SkillsUSA Week: http://bit.ly/1cwcz9U. This link shows the state association’s visit with Florida Governor Rick Scott for a proclamation signing: http://on.fb.me/1eQcsMg. And, Ohio’s students met with the Governor and the Superintendent of Education to highlight SkillsUSA week. Our chapters do a great job of spreading the good word about SkillsUSA in their states and local communities, and we are very proud to see the great student – driven activities nationwide.

Did your school do something special to celebrate? If so, we’d love to learn about it. Please send your news to Jane Short by email to jshort@skillsusa.org.

New CTSO Website
And, as we celebrate the final week of CTE Month across the nation, we are pleased to announce the rollout of an exciting new website. This site was created in cooperation with all the national Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) through the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) and our affiliate organizations: The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the U.S. Department of Education.

The website links to all CTSOs and affiliate organizations, provides the latest CTE news feed, links to our social networks and provides several data points that support the case for CTSOs as a key component of high quality Career and Technical Education. One of the most dynamic features of the website appears under the “Advocate” header. This link provides CTSO profiles for every state and shows the number of CTSO members in each legislative district for every state. This is a great tool for state legislative visits and for making the case for CTE at the local, state and federal levels.

We hope you will find this site useful not only an advocacy tool, but also as a marketing and branding tool. The process to develop this website was done with an incredible cooperative spirit amongst all the CTSOs and affiliate organizations. It offers another way to celebrate the goodness of CTE! Visit the site at: www.ctsos.org.

U.S. Department of Education Discussions

Daria Ferdine, national high school treasurer from New Jersey, participated in a CTSO Student Voices discussion with the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary for Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (formerly the Office of Vocational and Adult Education) and Brenda Dann-Messier on Tuesday afternoon, February 18th. And, she was also one of four students who made a presentation during a U.S. Department of Education internal briefing entitled “Reflect, Transform, Lead: Preparing Students for College, Career and Citizenship.” Here is a photo taken with Secretary Duncan:

Sec. of Ed. Arne Duncan and Daria Ferdine

Sec. of Ed. Arne Duncan and Daria Ferdine

Educated and Skilled to Lead America Video Competition Winner Announcement
This past fall, chapters from around the country submitted their entries for the Educated and Skilled to Lead America Video Competition (based on this year’s SkillsUSA theme). Chapters were challenged to create a video that showcased how they are becoming educated (what does their classroom or lab look like/what are they learning?) and skilled (what are their skills and how do they apply them). More than 25 entries were received and congratulations go to the winners — Sydney Martin and Krystal Smoger of St. Clair TEC in Marysville, Mich. where Ms. Keely Baribeau serves as the advisor. The honorable mention was submitted by Alexia Tignor of Franklin Technology Center in Joplin, Mo. where Ms. Deonna Anderson serves as the advisor.

You can watch both in the playlist below:

Communications Audit
Some of you may receive a questionnaire sent to a random sampling of approximately 1,500 advisors and students as part of a SkillsUSA strategic communications audit. The questionnaire will come from Stratton Publishing & Marketing Inc./Stratton Research in Alexandria, Va. Please fill it out and return it so we can learn more about what you need/want from our communications. The end goal is to provide timely, high-quality and valuable content that better aligns with student and advisor needs. Those who participate will have the opportunity to win an iPad mini.

Thank you for all you do for the great students we serve.

Work Force Ready System/Skill Connect Assessments
Available assessments
SkillsUSA assessments offers 42 technical and employability assessments in 10 cluster areas including four co-branded assessments with ASE/AYES and five co-branded assessments with PrintED/GAERF.  For a complete list of assessments and the blueprints that describe the standards, competencies, and academic skills tied to each assessment, go to this link.

To order Skill Connect Assessments, go to this link.  Log on to the test platform with your username from last year or click “Don’t have an Account” to create one. Click “Course Catalog,” type the assessment area in the search box and click on the assessment name. Select your quantity and click “add to cart.” Follow the prompts to complete your order.

Prepare the site for testing
Ensure the hardware and software of computers being used for testing meets the minimum requirements. Read the testing instructions before administering the assessments to students. See the step by step instructions, run a test on the computers and/or download the requirements at this link.

Enroll students and grade books
Detailed instructions on how to enroll students, distribute voucher tests and how to access the grade report can be found at this link.  Also see our training webinar “Assessment Ordering and Management Tools” to learn how to access the full line of reports available here.

New User ID field (Available end of March.)

An optional User ID field  inputted during the creation of the student username account can be used to further identify the student in the grade reports. Student ID’s, contestant numbers (if using for regional or state competitions) or other identification codes can be used in this field. A maximum of 12 alpha or numeric characters permitted.

Assessment Support
Please note our new phone number, email address and hours of operation. 
Direct: 1-866-444-7779/Email: support@skillconnect.org


Help Desk Support Hours: Mon.- Fri. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. EST

2014 Regional Advisors of the Year
The regional Advisors of the Year have been chosen. Congratulations go to:

  • Ellen Coughlin, DCMO BOCES — Chenango Area Campus, New York, Region 1;
  • James Dinsmoor, Rockdale Career Academy, Georgia, Region 2;
  • Tobin Prinsen, Apollo Career Center, Ohio, Region 3;
  • Mark Sponaugle, Carthage Technical Center, Missouri, Region 4;
  • James Adamson, Central Kitsap High School, Washington, Region 5.

These great advisors will all come to NLSC in Kansas City and compete for the title of National Advisor of the Year.

Alumni Membership Incentive
The Alumni Coordinating Committee is offering an incentive for SkillsUSA advisors who sign up alumni from their chapters. For every five members an advisor registers with the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association, he or she will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Lowe’s gift card.

To be officially entered into the drawing, the advisor must have students register online at: www.skillsusa.org/supporters/alumni.shtml. Paper forms will not be accepted. The advisor must then send an email to Byekwaso Gilbert at bgilbert@skillsusa.org.

The email must contain all of the following:

  • The advisor’s name, school, address, phone and email (make sure what you provide will be accessible to you after June 1)
  • A list (for verification) of the students (first and last names) who registered as alumni

Remember that graduating seniors qualify to register during their senior year. Former SkillsUSA students are also eligible, provided they are not members already. These students must register through their former advisor to be counted as part of that advisor’s entry. Students may only register once. Deadline for entry into the drawing is June 1.

Student2Student Mentoring Program
SkillsUSA sponsors a national recognition program based on the Student2Student mentoring program. Any chapter involved in mentoring can submit its project plan, description and outcomes. The winning chapter will be given a cash prize, recognized at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, in the Awards and Recognition booklet and at an event during the conference. In addition, the overall winning chapter will be invited to present its winning mentoring program as a part of SkillsUSA University. For more information, go to this link. All entries must be submitted online to the national office by April 4. Winners will be announced in May.

February 2014 Alumni Newsletter
Here is a link to the latest alumni newsletter. Please read and share with all who are interested. Go to: www.skillsusa.org/supporters/alumninews.shtml.

GAERF Student Design Competition
The Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF) has launched their GAERF Student Design Competition, themed “PACK-tastic.” This sixth annual contest challenges participants to combine their critical thinking and creativity with cutting-edge technology to design a unique striking package. Entries will be judged on design, functionality, appropriate labeling and marketability. One high school winner and one college/postsecondary school winner will be identified for each of the first, second and third place awards.

The deadline for entries is June 13, 2014. For complete information about the GAERF 2014 Student Design Competition, visit: www.graphicCOMMcentral.org.

“Do it Yourself” Video Competition
SkillsUSA launched a video competition during SkillsUSA Week, February 9-15, for members to showcase their skills. Entries should be between 2-3 minutes in length and uploaded to YouTube at: www.youtube.com by May 1, 2014. A SkillsUSA panel will judge the entries. The top five entries will then be voted on by the public during the week of May 8-15. Winners will be announced on Facebook and on the SkillsUSA website. For more details, visit this page. Email Stephanie Bland at sbland@skillsusa.org with questions.

News Release Template
The SkillsUSA’s advocacy site gives email contacts for state and local media and federal officials. There is also a news release template for your state conference participants. Please use this site to publicize your regional, district or state competitors or delegates.

Executive Director’s Report: February 15, 2014

February 15th, 2014

Happy CTE Month and SkillsUSA Week!  As we celebrate the outstanding work of CTE educators and programs nationwide this month, it’s great to recognize our SkillsUSA state associations that are growing participation and opportunity for students and teachers through outstanding membership recruitment efforts.  As we all know, CTE and CTSOs change lives for the better, and we are very proud of all the great work that is being done to lift up our students.  Special congratulations to the following state association leaders:

  • Arizona, Carrie Wolf, State Association Director
  • California, Clay Mitchell, State Association Director
  • Connecticut,  Heidi Balch, State Association Director
  • District of Columbia, Ed Roebuck, State Association Director
  • Indiana, Kelley Baker, State Association Director
  • Kansas, Becky Warren, State Association Director
  • Maine, Hal Casey and Rick Thomas, State Association Directors
  • Maryland, Charles Wallace, State Association Director
  • Mississippi, Andy Sims, State Association Director
  • New Hampshire, Kate Krumm, State Association Director
  • Oklahoma, Darren Gibson, State Association Director
  • Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson, State Association Director
  • Rhode Island, Josh Klemp, State Association Director
  • Texas, Janet Conner, State Association Director, High School Division

As of today, February 12, we have 275,089 members on the books and that’s approximately 8,000 ahead of the same day last year. We are trending well and are optimistic the push forward will continue through the new year.

Lowe’s Meeting

On January 24, I traveled to Charlotte, N.C. and met with Lowe’s executives, Board Member Troy Dally, Mike Horn, Vice President, Commercial Sales and Tom Donoghue, Community Relations Manager. I shared some of the results of our FY13 Lowe’s Schools in Need Grant Program and an impressive video presentation put together by grant recipient schools, Carol Lowery and Tom Kercheval from staff. The video shows the impact of how Lowe’s grant dollars were spent in those schools and students and teachers thanking Lowe’s for the opportunity. I had some great meetings with Troy regarding both the altruistic connection Lowe’s has to SkillsUSA, as well as how we can enhance our visibility of SkillsUSA graduates who go on to be professionals in the construction industry. It was really great to spend quality time with Tom and review some of the history of our partnership as well as discuss the future. We’re hopeful Lowe’s support will continue for many years to come.

Louisville “Circle of Champions” Breakfast

On January 16th, SkillsUSA, in cooperation with Greater Louisville, Inc. (GLI) and the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, held a breakfast for members of the local business community at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. About 200 attended and all of the seats were taken. Students from local CTE schools demonstrated their skills as attendees entered the building, including robotics, culinary arts, cosmetology, automotive, diesel, masonry and others. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer gave a powerful presentation welcoming SkillsUSA to the city and national officer Crystal Sandoval was the master of ceremonies and did a great job. Other presenters included the vice president of GLI, Dr. Dale Winkler from the Kentucky Department of Education, and board member Laurie Hackett from Air Products. All did a great job, and the breakfast was a huge success. The business community showed a lot of great enthusiasm for SkillsUSA’s national conference coming to Louisville. We are confident this event is the beginning of a strong and fruitful relationship with the Louisville, Kentucky community.



Youth Voices with CTSO National Officers

Daria Ferdine, national high school treasurer from New Jersey, has been selected to represent SkillsUSA at the U.S. Department of Education meeting with Secretary Arne Duncan on February 18. Students from each career and technical student organization (CTSO) will share activities with Secretary Duncan. The event will be held in the Secretary’s conference room, and the conversation will focus on how the CTSO’s are helping to advance some of the Department of Education’s key priorities (e.g., college and career readiness, STEM, technology, higher education access, great teachers and leaders, etc.). The students will also have an opportunity to share recommendations with the Secretary about how to improve CTE and the education system, in general. We are confident that Daria will do a great job representing SkillsUSA.

Partnership with Million Women Mentors (MWM)

SkillsUSA has formed a strategic partnership with Million Women Mentors, an initiative of STEMconnector, the national organization that works closely with corporations and thousands of entities to assist in STEM best practices and smart STEM investments.

This is an engagement campaign and national call to action that mobilizes corporations, government entities, nonprofit and higher education groups, around the imperative of mentoring girls and young women in STEM fields. MWM will support the engagement of one million science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) mentors (male and female) to increase the interest and confidence of girls and young women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers.

Women comprise nearly half of the U.S. workforce, yet just 24 percent of the STEM workforce. However, the good news is that women in STEM careers earn 92 cents for every dollar male STEM counterparts earn versus 75 cents in other fields. What’s more, 80 percent of the fastest growing occupations in the United States depend on mastery of mathematics and scientific knowledge and skills. 

SkillsUSA invites its business and industry partners and its member educators to sign on as a mentor of a girl or young woman aspiring to a future in the skilled/technical workforce. Any SkillsUSA instructor mentoring a female student(s) qualifies as a mentor. Virtually all SkillsUSA occupational programs possess important elements of STEM. In fact, 68 of our national competitions are directly related to STEM. You can sign up as an individual or you can sign up as a company or as an educational institution and enumerate your colleagues who are serving or will serve as mentors. Simply go to MWM’s website, and click on the “Pledge to Mentor” button on the lower right. 

SkillsUSA believes the Million Women Mentors initiative can be an important national asset in helping to close the “skills gap” that has become a focus of concern for nearly all of our partners.

Highlights

  • Work continues on the www.SkillsUSA.org redesign. We’ve seen initial designs for the new look of our home page and have made revisions to the design concept. The next design compositions will include the revised home page as well as three interior pages. Programming and coding for the new site begins on February 24.
  • Niki Clausen just returned from running a successful “Enhance Your Chapter” training in Sarasota where 36 educators participated.
  • Kelly Horton and Gayle Silvey ran a very successful state director webinar on January 27 to show them the enhancements to the membership system. Twenty-eight state association directors participated and follow-up comments have been very positive.
  • Heidi Walsh just returned from traveling to the American Association of Community College’s Workforce Development Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida with national officer, Dustin Cagle. It was a good visit, and she reports they received a lot of interest in SkillsUSA’s programs.
  • Patty Duncan and Lana Ford have been running a series of webinars to inform our customers about the Work Force Ready System, and they have been well attended.
  • And, last week Kelly Persons joined a morning News Talk Radio program serving listeners from Indiana and Kentucky who live and work in and around the greater Louisville metro area. She did a great job educating the listeners about SkillsUSA and the NLSC. I’ll send you a link to the archived broadcast when it becomes available.

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

Alumni Membership Incentive

February 14th, 2014

The Alumni Coordinating Committee is offering an incentive for SkillsUSA advisors who sign up alumni from their chapters. For every five members an advisor registers with the SkillsUSA Alumni & Friends Association, he or she will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Lowe’s gift card.

To be officially entered into the drawing, the advisor must have students register online here. Paper forms will not be accepted. The advisor must then send an email to Byekwaso Gilbert at bgilbert@skillsusa.org. The email must contain all of the following:

  • the advisor’s name, school, address, phone and email (make sure what you provide will be accessible to you after June 1)
  • a list (for verification) of the students (first and last names) who registered as alumni

Remember that graduating seniors qualify to register during their senior year. Former SkillsUSA students are also eligible, provided they are not members already. These students must register through their former advisor to be counted as part of that advisor’s entry. Students may only register once. Deadline for entry into the drawing is June 1.

CTE Month Events and Activities

February 14th, 2014

Is your state, school or organization doing something special to celebrate CTE month? 

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) is hoping you’ll share any activities, initiatives, events, fun facts, photos, etc. NASDCTEc is making a big social media push to get the word out about CTE, as well as working with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) on a school tour and potentially a Congressional briefing.  They would like to be able to share what the CTE community is doing in their schools or organizations on a national platform. Please feel free to share any CTE month features with Evan Williamson, NASDCTEc’s Communications Associate, at ewilliamson@careertech.org.

Youth Scholarship for Building a GradNation Summit

February 13th, 2014

Do you know a young leader in your community who is working hard with his or her peers to end the dropout crisis? Do you know a young person who has struggled on the road to graduation and can speak his or her mind? Encourage them to apply for a scholarship to attend the 2014 Building a GradNation Summit in Washington, DC (includes meals, transportation and lodging)!

Please share this opportunity with your networks. Go to this link  for more information. Applications are due by March 1.

Student2Student Mentoring Program

February 13th, 2014

SkillsUSA sponsors a national recognition program based on the Student2Student mentoring program. Any chapter involved in mentoring can submit its project plan, description and outcomes. The winning chapter will be given a cash prize, recognized at the National Leadership and Skills Conference, in Awards and Recognition booklet and at an event during the conference. In addition, the overall winning chapter will be invited to present its winning mentoring program as a part of SkillsUSA University. For more information, go to: www.skillsusa.org/educators/mentrecog.shtml. All entries must be submitted online to the national office by April 4. Winners will be announced in May.

2014 SkillsUSA University Reminder

February 13th, 2014

We are currently accepting proposals from high-quality presenters of innovative, timely and dynamic educational topics to present at the 2014 SkillsUSA University. This year, SkillsUSA University is sponsored by 3M Company. All sessions will take place at the Downtown Marriott Hotel or the Kansas City Convention Center on June 25, 26 and 27.

We ask state directors or instructors who would like to present to send emails with proposed topics to Niki Clausen at nclausen@skillsusa.org.

Possible topics: local chapter activities; fundraising; community service; SkillsUSA Program of Work success stories; business etiquette; communication skills for students; local industry partnerships, etc. These can be best practices (with a local advisor presenting) or an expert in the subject area. If you do not want to present, but you have suggestions for workshop topics, please feel free to forward them to us.

The deadline for proposals is February 28. For more information and a Request for Proposal (RFP), go to: www.skillsusa.org/events/skillsuniv.shtml.

Happy SkillsUSA Week!

February 10th, 2014

Happy SkillsUSA Week! I hope you have a great week showcasing your programs, SkillsUSA and career and technical education.

There are a lot of helpful resources on our website to help you make the most of the week. Download a sample news release, a SkillsUSA fact sheet, a sample proclamation and sample school announcement to help you get the word out. You can find it all here: www.skillsusa.org/educators/skillsusaweek.shtml

Another great way to promote SkillsUSA is with public service announcements. NASCAR correspondent and SkillsUSA alumna Wendy Venturini recorded these PSAs to help us spread the word about SkillsUSA. We have both audio and video versions for you to use with local media (radio, television, cable or school networks). You can download the audio or video files here:  www.skillsusa.org/educators/psa.shtml

Finally, we have some great advocacy tools to help you tell lawmakers about the importance of career and technical education and SkillsUSA. You can also find local media for your press releases. You can find that information here: http://capwiz.com/skillsusa/home/

There has never been a better time to be skilled. SkillsUSA Week is a great way to spread that message and promote all the good work you are doing.

Have a great week!

Educated and Skilled to Lead America Video Contest

February 6th, 2014

Congratulations to the winners of the Educated and Skilled to Lead America Video Contest, Sydney Martin and Krystal Smoger of St. Clair TEC in Marysville, Mich. Their advisor is Ms. Keely Baribeau. Honorable Mention goes to Alexia Tignor of Franklin Technology Center in Joplin, Mo. Deonna Anderson is her advisor. You can watch both videos below:

“Educated and Skilled to Lead America” is SkillsUSA’s theme this year and the students’ challenge was  to create a video that showcases how members are becoming educated.

Congratulations!

SkillsUSA Appoints Kelly Persons as Director of the Office of Business Partnerships and Development

February 5th, 2014

Leesburg, Va. — Kelly Persons, previously with AARP Foundation, Lowe’s Companies, Inc., and Habitat for Humanity, became director for the Office of Business Partnerships and Development at SkillsUSA in Leesburg, Va. on December 10, 2013.

“Persons brings her passion to advocate for career and technical education and her extensive experience with fundraising, partnership development and community relations for other national non-profits to this position,” said Tim Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA. “I am confident, with Persons’ talented leadership, SkillsUSA will nurture and strengthen our current partner relationships and create many exciting new partnerships.  Her work will help more students and teachers to take advantage of the many personal and professional benefits of the SkillsUSA program.”

Persons is originally from Laconia, New Hampshire and received a B.A. degree from Wells College in Aurora, New York. Persons background includes more than 20 years of fundraising, special event coordination and leadership and management experience. Prior to joining SkillsUSA, Persons served as program manager, Housing Impact Area at AARP Foundation where she was responsible for the development and implementation of programs and scalable interventions to increase opportunities for older adults to secure affordable and adequate housing. From 2005-2012, Persons served as community relations managers for Lowe’s Companies, Inc., a FORTUNE 100 company operating more than 1,745 home improvement stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Her responsibilities included the administration of the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation and the management of an impactful portfolio of strategic national nonprofit partnerships.

About SkillsUSA
SkillsUSA helps students discover and grow their career passions. As a nationwide partnership of students, instructors and industry working together, SkillsUSA works to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It helps every student excel. The nationwide career and technical education student organization annually serves more than 300,000 high school, college and postsecondary students—and their instructors—in technical, skilled, and service occupation instructional programs. Career and technical education is learning that works for America. SkillsUSA has the active support of more than 600 corporations, trade associations, business and labor unions at the national level. Over 11 million people have been annual members of SkillsUSA since its founding as the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America on May 8, 1965. SkillsUSA programs teach leadership, citizenship and character development to complement technical skill training. The organization emphasizes respect for the dignity of work, ethics, workmanship, scholarship and safety. For more information, go to: www.skillsusa.org.


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