We had an excellent board meeting on March 21 and 22 at the Snap-on Corporate Headquarters and I‘m pleased nearly all board members were present. A big thank you goes to Greg Rintala and Snap-on for hosting the meeting and the tours and to the president of the board, Russ Hoffbauer, for his leadership throughout.
Following the board meeting, I was off to Corpus Christi on March 22-24 for an outstanding Texas high school division conference. There were 5,600 registrants and 6,000 attending overall. The event filled the entire Corpus Christi Convention Center and several contests were held at the Craft Training Center. The Texas conference had some special features such as a competition for projects – in categories such as furniture or outdoor grills – built back at the school and then taken to conference to be judged and awarded ribbons. There were 2,000 projects and there were 1,000 contestants in the Technical Information Contest which used the Skill Connect Assessments. Texas also held exploratory competitions for middle school students.
It was great to spend time with John Ellis, statewide CTE coordinator at the Texas Education Agency and Tom Pauken, chairman of the Texas Work Force Commission. Both were tremendously impressed by the conference. It was also great to see Larry Rabalais, state director of SkillsUSA Louisiana. Congratulations go to high school state director, Janet Conner, and husband, Pat, for running an outstanding conference.
On March 27-28, I was in Phoenix for the 45thannual SkillsUSA Arizona Championships which took up the majority of the floor space of the Phoenix Convention Center. There were more than 2,000 participating and over 60 contests. One of the most outstanding features of the conference was how professional everything looked with eye-catching banners and signs. The Arizona Skills Standards Commission and the Arizona Stakeholders Committee held a joint meeting in conjunction with the conference. Commissioners did a “walkabout” of the Championships.
I had the pleasure of visiting long-time SkillsUSA friend, Carolyn Warner, co-chair of the Skill Standards Commission and spending the afternoon meeting with John Huppenthal, co-chair of the Arizona Skills Standards Commission and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Arizona Department of Education. It was also great to see long-time friend Mark Hamilton, deputy associate superintendent of CTE (and a former SkillsUSA state director) and Dennis Fiscus, team leader for the student organizations in the state department. Congratulations go to Arizona state director, Carrie Wolf.
We just finished CTE Month and we had a lot going on here at SkillsUSA. That includes social media activity during SkillsUSA Week, a new board member, a new staff member and a shout out from the Assistant Secretary of Labor. So, here are some of the highlights during this shortest month of the year.
- As part of our SkillsUSA Week celebration, February 6-10, we experimented using advertising on Facebook by posting the SkillsUSA public service announcement (PSA) featuring alumna and NASCAR reporter, Wendy Venturini. The ad ran from February 9-12. The campaign reached over 420,000 unique viewers and yielded nearly one million impressions. To view the PSA, go to: www.skillsusa.org/educators/psa.shtml and scroll down to the video window of Wendy. We used the 60-second version.
- Also during SkillsUSA Week, we heard about lots of activity from around the country as our chapters and state associations were engaged in advocacy and service activities. We were happy to have approximately 100 attendees on our SkillsUSA Week webinar on Tuesday, February 7 and pleased by the special guests, Russ Hoffbauer, both student national presidents and one of our business partners, former board member (and SkillsUSA alumnus), John Hinesley, who gave the keynote speech.
- I’m pleased to announce that Lowe’s Senior Vice President, Troy Dally, will be joining the board of directors. And, last week, I had my first phone conversation with the new Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation director, and she sounded excited about the partnership with SkillsUSA.
- Chance Litwin, this year’s SkillsUSA college/postsecondary national student president has been invited to attend the 2012 Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C., March 18-21. The annual event brings together community groups, educators, local and state leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses and youth to discuss efforts to increase high school graduation rates. The Summit is expected to draw 1,000 people including General Colin Powell and U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Chance was chosen from over 200 student applicants. State Farm is a Premier Sponsor for the Summit.
- On February 21, Christen Battaglia joined the Office of Business Partnerships and Development to help with our fundraising. We’re very glad to have her with us and know you’ll give her a hearty welcome when you meet her.
- Here is the latest on SkillsUSA membership. Remember, tomorrow (March 1), is the deadline for not only competitors, but officer candidates and delegates as well. We have 296,490 members entered now and more states have surpassed their total membership last year. Congratulations to the following state associations for exceeding last year’s overall membership. They are California, Clay Mitchell; Connecticut, Heidi Balch; Hawaii, Gilbert Chun; Maryland, Chuck Wallace; Massachusetts, Karen Ward; Mississippi, Andy Sims; New Hampshire, Lynda Demers; New Jersey, Pete Carey; New York high school division, Bruce Potter; Oklahoma, Darren Gibson; Pennsylvania, Jeri Widdowson; Rhode Island, Josh Klemp; Virginia, Ed Sullivan; and, West Virginia, Paul Lovett. And, a reminder that professional membership and alumni memberships count, so if you have staff, board members, corporate members or others (including yourself), be sure and submit them today. Individuals who are industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join online at the following link: www.skills-register.org/rpts/JoinAsProfessional.aspx.
- SkillsUSA Champions magazine won a silver award this year in the Association Trends All-Media Contest. Among the judge’s comments: “This submitted issue lives up to the mission statement with excellent and focused content and clean and easy-to-read design elements. This organization has a strong Web presence and a digital version to further enhance its commitment to members.” Congratulations to Tom Hall and the Office of Publications. If you would like to see the winners gallery (including honors to past SkillsUSA publications), please visit: www.associationtrends.com/gallery/?cat=261.
- Mike Cowles was in Washington on February 7 as part of a delegation from Columbus, Ohio to visit the White House to discuss metro economic revitalization and job creation and how the city can work with small and large businesses to do it. This was one of 40 similar meetings planned by the White House. The delegation included the mayor of Columbus. Mike joined them because of the role of career and technical education in economic development and education. He told me that at one point during the meeting he started to talk about SkillsUSA, and Assistant Secretary of Labor Jane Oates said to the entire delegation: “SkillsUSA is a great organization. If you’re not involved with it already, you need to be.”
- We’re putting the final touches on a rigorous selection process for SkillsUSA WorldTeam and we’ll be keeping our state association directors informed right up front on the process and the candidates. We’ve also restructured the management team. I will be serving as the official delegate. Scott Norman from Pittsburg, Kan., is our technical expert. Dave Worden is our assistant technical expert and Heidi Ambrose is the team leader.
* The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) held a conference call the other day to ask the career and technical student organizations to help in the promotion and participation in the administration’s National Education Startup Challenge, an entrepreneurial look at education. SkillsUSA is happy to help. While on the subject of OVAE, President Obama’s 2013 budget flat-funds Perkins at $1.13 billion. One of the three key themes in the budget is “Jobs: aligning job training and education programs with workforce demands.”
* Sales of the Skill Connect Assessments are double what they were last year at this time and sales of ASE automotive assessments – in which SkillsUSA shares – are also way ahead of last year. We’ve been very fortunate to have an assessment expert helping us review the Skill Connect system, providing significant advice on how and where we can make improvements to the system and helping to develop a tool to show teachers the weighting of competencies in the tests. That will be a big help to teachers to prepare their students.
* Finally, there were 700 entries in the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) pin and T-shirt design contest. That’s pretty neat. And, we held our first NLSC staff meeting on Valentine’s Day.
On November 16, we held our three board of director committee meetings on governance, finance and programs. The home base was Clyde Miller Academy, an inner-city charter school in St. Louis where they are doing a fantastic job for students. Two of Missouri’s SkillsUSA state officers this year are from the academy, and there were SkillsUSA materials in all the classrooms, in the entry way, everywhere. The culinary and food and beverage service students took care of our every need.
- The board of directors met on September 19. The board approved the August financials. It appears we will have a positive change in net assets and SkillsUSA will beat its budget for the ninth time in 10 years. The board also went to the Hill with the students and I heard from many people that the student and board member advocacy combination was very powerful.
- Caleb Houston, high school division parliamentarian, and I made a presentation about SkillsUSA to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA) on September 22 near Baltimore. The ACA is interested in finding effective partners and methods to recruit young people into apprenticeship. Our friends, Bob Baird of the Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc, Greg Chambers of Oberg Industries, Inc. and Steve Mandes of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, all recommended to the committee that involvement with SkillsUSA would be a good approach. I’m certain we’ll be hearing more from ACA.
- Members of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam arrived in Leesburg on September 29, in preparation for the trip to London Friday evening. Before they left, we had some Washington visits for them. At 9 a.m., we were at The White House Conference Center for a meeting with the Office of Science and Technology Policy. At 10 a.m. we met with staff from the CTE Caucus in the Cannon House Office Building and some of the team members’ Senators and Representatives staff members. At 1 p.m. we met at the U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education, and then, at 2 p.m. we went over on the Senate side to meet with staff from the Senate HELP Committee.
- The competition has finished and here are the scores from the 41st WorldSkills Competition in London: Bradley Clink of Washtenaw CC in Saline, Michigan won Silver in Welding. Laina Call of Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College in Ogden, Utah won a Medallion of Excellence (at least 500 points out of a possible 600) in Hairdressing. Daniel Lehmkuhl of Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California won a Medallion of Excellence in Automobile Technology (Automotive Service Technology). Rachel Koppelman of Columbia Area Career Center in Columbia, Missouri won a Medallion of Excellence in Cooking. WorldTeam information is online at: www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldteamres.shtml.
It’s over and it went off without a hitch. There were 269 registrants from 25 states and Puerto Rico this year. We were particularly pleased that some of the states who sent delegations this year were new, or haven’t been with us for some time. That includes the states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and West Virginia.
There were also some great guest speakers including our Saturday night speakers John Gallina and Dale Beatty, co-founders of Purple Heart Homes (and introduced to us by Cindy Sutton of The Social Eyes LLC), and on Monday Jennifer McNelly of the Manufacturing Institute. For the advisors sessions there were presentations made by Steve DeWitt and Jamie Baxter of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and Nancy Conneely and Erin Uy of the National Association of State Directors consortium (NASDCTEc).
We also held the SkillsUSA board of directors meeting at the same time and both the board and the WLTI participants visited Congress in Washington, D.C. to convey the message that CTE is needed and funding is extremely important.
- Twenty-five states have registered for the Washington Leadership Training Institute. We’re working to secure speakers for the advisors’ track. I believe this will be another substantive series of sessions.
- Alumni membership is now at 26,112 and the alumni now have a new page on the SkillsUSA website for archiving their series of professional development webinars.
- At the Louisville conference, a new training tool kit for state student officers was introduced that was very well received. This kit comes in a large duffle bag packed full of tools to help officers conduct state and local workshops on the roles of SkillsUSA leaders and implementation of our Program of Work. The kit also includes props that will be purchased by state officer teams at their local Lowe’s Store. Lowe’s sponsored the development of this exciting new training tool.
- The SkillsUSA, Inc. board of directors will be meeting on September 19 at the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center during the Washington Leadership Training Institute. On September 20, the board will be going to Capitol Hill with our student leaders for Congressional visits. This will be an excellent opportunity for our students, in tandem with our governing body, to tell the SkillsUSA story to policymakers.
- We are finalizing plans for the fall meeting of the Youth Development Foundation hosted by Air Products in Bethlehem, Pa. September 14-15. Special thanks to Laurie Gostley-Hackett who will be our host. We have 17 attendees registered and look forward to the meeting.
- I have the honor announcing the addition of a new board member. Mark Williams, division administrator, Career Development Division, Illinois State Board of Education has agreed to serve in the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium ex officio position previously held by Milt Ericksen. I hope Mark will be with us in June and I look forward to working with him.
- I have the additional honor of announcing a new Youth Development Foundation committee member, Michael Arndt, director of training, United Association. According to our records, Michael will be the first union official to serve on the YDF. United Association is supporting our Refrigeration contestant at WorldSkills London and UA has supported contestants at the past two WorldSkills Competitions
- Groups of 30 students and teachers from the various career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) met with Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in Washington on May 6. There was lots of diversity of opinion – particularly among the teachers – as to the meanings and importance of college-ready and career-ready. One teacher said: “All students should get a four-year degree.” Another pointed out the value of CTE when students can earn an associate’s degree in high school with dual credits. Students believed the assistant secretary learned more about the value of CTSOs and how CTSO membership has changed their lives. Nursing student Cloe Ayenu and counselor Martha Lowry, both from Frederick County Career Center in Maryland, represented SkillsUSA. Also in the delegation were National Officer Ricky Jordan from Massachusetts and Deb Tripp, SkillsUSA associate director of training and a former graphic arts teacher.
- On May 4-5, I attended the BPA (Business Professionals of America) national conference in Washington, D.C. The opening ceremony was held on the grounds of the Washington Monument. It was really impressive with the lights of the monument and the flags in the background. It was also cold. BPA recognized each of the CTSOs in attendance including SkillsUSA, FBLA, FCCLA and National FFA. Between 3,000-4,000 people attended the conference.
- On April 29-30, I attended the ProStart event in Overland Park, Kan. ProStart is the national competition for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Teams of three students competed in Culinary and in Culinary Management. Forty states represented about 300 contestants. Several of the instructors attending were also SkillsUSA advisors and they said their students would be in Kansas City this month. We’re aligning standards between SkillsUSA and ProStart, and they’re also aligning their curriculum to the same standards.
- SkillsUSA’s CTE advocacy efforts on the “Dear Colleague” letter to Congress from May 5-12 were good. We just need to work our way up to great. During the week, 67 people called or wrote 69 messages to 53 congressional offices. We do appreciate all the support, and lots of people responded to us that they liked knowing what was happening and having the chance to participate.
- On May 9, representatives from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) visited with us in Leesburg to talk about how they could help us get our educational materials in front of industry including the Skill Connect Assessments. NCCER has also taken over the leadership of the Carpentry contest and they’re bringing their national board to our conference this year. Board members include representatives from several major corporations and commercial contractors.
- And, as of May 27, we had 9,686 national conference registrants and 5,764 contestants. Last year’s totals were 9,606 registrants and 5,595 contestants, and we still have weeks to go.
- The final official membership total is 320,287. That includes 300,302 student and teacher members and 19,302 alumni members.
- On April 27, SkillsUSA staff and Gayle Silvey, Georgia state association director, did a test drive of the SkillsUSA chapter registration software with a group of teachers from Middletown Middle School in Maryland. They also spent time on the website comparing SkillsUSA’s site to others and deciding what organization to join based upon their online experiences.
- Staff projects sales of Skill Connect Assessments might well reach 15,000 in May.
- Lowe’s has invitations out to 20 of its vendors to attend national conference. Staff reports some have already spoken of support.
- I’m sorry to report that Milt Ericksen from the Arizona Department of Education and representing NASDCTEc on the board has announced a job change, and he will be moving to the Arizona state agency that represents health and nutrition. As a result, NASDCTEc will be naming a new representative to our board. I expect to hear shortly. I personally thank Milt for all he’s done for SkillsUSA through the years, and I wish him well in his new endeavor.
- April 29 – 30, I attended ProStart, the competition of the National Restaurant Association in Overland Park, Kan. SkillsUSA and ProStart are going to be aligning our standards for competitions, and I hope doing much more together.
- And, I just returned from my final state conference visit to Florida. Carl Miller did a great job managing Florida’s largest state conference ever. SkillsUSA Florida also achieved the highest membership ever this year. Brandon Mullings, 2009-10 national officer, served as a keynote speaker, and it was great to spend time with him during the conference. SkillsUSA Florida ran 110 contests and over 3,000 attended the event.