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Summertime is Connection Time

As we wrap up our NLSC each year and then enjoy the July 4 holiday, our next big opportunity comes as summer professional development conferences kick off for our teachers and administrators across the nation. I’ll be participating in three this summer and they offer an opportunity to connect with teachers, state directors, state agency staff, administrators and supporting business partners.

My first summer conference for 2012 was the Georgia Education and Economic Development Summit held in Atlanta, July 15-18. It was interesting to see that our good friend Bill Symonds from the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard was the keynote speaker for the opening plenary.

It was invited to present a workshop on business and industry driven assessments and our Work Force Ready System and Skill Connect assessments fit the bill nicely. My presentation was well received and I got excellent feedback from the schools currently using our assessments as end of pathway exams. I received some excellent comments from teachers, administrators and university faculty and the workshop received consistent rankings of 4 to 5 on a 5-point evaluation scale.

In addition to the assessment presentation, I was kept busy with several other assignments and opportunities. The first was my participation in the commencement ceremonies of the Georgia SkillsUSA University. State Association Director Gayle Silvey and her team did an outstanding job of chapter management training for a packed house of advisors on July 15. I was honored to speak to the group and to present their completion diplomas at the end of the training.

My next step was the TIEGA Awards Luncheon where I brought greetings to nearly 300 of our instructors and administrators. I spent some quality time with our corporate member Carol Burke and learned more about her passion and support for SkillsUSA. At this activity, Gayle Silvey was honored with farewell accolades and gifts from her peers as they wished her well in her new role with the national organization. Incoming state association director and former national officer Ashley Hopkins was introduced and did a great job of orientation for the coming school year. Ashley has completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia and is nearing completion of her Masters in Workforce Development. Although Gayle will be a tough act to follow, I am confident that Ashley will do a tremendous job as our new director in Georgia.

I also spent some quality time with the regional conference and Championships coordinators and discussed the challenges of regional operations. It was a great time of sharing our national perspective on the importance of regional events and discussing new ideas. Georgia high school competitions are held inside technical colleges and this offers not only a neutral competition arena, but a great opportunity for college recruitment and for our high school members to experience a day on campus.

I also attended and spoke at a Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) dinner event to honor construction technology instructors. CEFGA is a major partner of SkillsUSA Georgia. I was also able to spend some time with CTE Director Richard Turner at this activity. He attended NLSC last month as part of the VIP program and he was thoroughly impressed.

The final activity of the conference was the Award and Recognition Brunch on July 18 where I heard State Superintendent Dr. John Barge speak to the full conference of nearly 3,000. John is a staunch supporter of CTE and SkillsUSA. He had just returned from three national meetings, including the meeting of Chief State School Officers in Idaho. His remarks included information about the big nationwide buzz and discussion regarding CTE as a key component of education reform in America. He and Georgia are doing great things in CTE and in SkillsUSA. I believe we can count on continued support from John and the Georgia Department of Education and also have confidence that Georgia’s CTE and SkillsUSA model will be a part of the larger national dialogue on education reform.

I’ll also be attending summer conferences in Minnesota and Washington State.

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