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Executive Director’s Report: March 1, 2014

March 1st, 2014

SkillsUSA Week and CTE Month
During SkillsUSA Week 2014 and National 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.

New CTSO Website
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.


U.S. News and World Report

A great Op-Ed article was picked up by U.S. News and World Report, written by our great friend and former board member from Caterpillar, Mary Bell. Mary also was just named as one of the top women in manufacturing, receiving a STEP award (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) from NAM/The Manufacturing Institute. The article entitled, “To Close the Skills Gap in Manufacturing, Close the Gender Gap,” can be seen here.

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:

WorldSkills Americas Competition

SkillsUSA is sending two students to compete in the WorldSkills Americas Competition in Bogota Columbia, April 1-6, 2014. The students are Jacob Wozniak, Cabinetmaking, from Springville, N.Y. and Michael Mullen, Auto Service Technology, from San Luis Obispo, Calif. The WorldSkills Americas competition serves as a good benchmark for the next WorldSkills Competition to be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil in August, 2015.



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.

Highlights

  • Niki Clausen conducted a Chapter Management Institute (CMI) for 30 teacher advisors in New York City on February 3. The CMI was held in conjunction with their Career and Technical Education Summit. In addition to the CMI training, they also participated in a CTE Policy Panel discussion which included Brenda Dann-Messier, the assistant secretary of education for career, technical and adult education.
  • The national officer planning meeting in Kansas City will be held the last weekend of March.
  • Work is moving forward on the FY15 membership kit to contain a separate resource tailored specifically for college/postsecondary membership.
  • Kelly Horton is working with Ohio state association director, Mike Cowles, on a contract to serve youth in alternative education pathways who are required to be in a CTSO.
  • I’m very happy to announce that our great long-time friend, Snap-on Incorporated, has committed to a $100,000 grant for SkillsUSA in 2014. Alicia Smales, member of the SkillsUSA Foundation, contacted us on Monday with the great news. A BIG thank you to Alicia and the entire Snap-on team for their continued support. Snap-on Incorporated has been a national partner for nearly three decades. We are also very appreciative of the support they provide to our regional and state winners in a variety of competitions. Snap-on provides nearly $300,000 in donations of tools and equipment to our students and teachers annually.
  • I’m also happy to announce that another great friend, Air Products, recently contributed $52,500, giving them a total of $102,500 contributed to SkillsUSA so far this year!
  • SkillsUSA will be raffling off a Dyna Street Bob Motorcycle at the 2014 National Conference Awards Ceremony, Friday, June 27, in Kansas City. This motorcycle is made possible thanks to a generous donation by Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc.
  • We’re seeing some exciting new designs for the SkillsUSA website. The home page looks great, and work continues on interior pages. Web manager, Craig Moore, says technical implementation of www.skillsusa.org begins February 25.
  • Tom Kercheval, our audiovisual technology manager, just put the finishing touches on an updated “What is SkillsUSA?” video, reflecting input from the recent meeting of state association director officers.
  • The Spring issue of SkillsUSA Champions has been mailed, and the digital publication is online at: www.skillsusa.org/champions/spring14.shtml. Focus is on our student leaders, new training events, and successful alumni and SkillsUSA student competitors involved in STEM education.
  • Stratton Publishing & Marketing Inc./Stratton Research in Alexandria, Va., will be sending a questionnaire to a random sampling of approximately 1,500 advisors and students as part of a SkillsUSA’s strategic communications audit. The end goal: 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.
  • The following video was produced by Jefferson County (Ky.) Public Schools showing highlights of the January 16th Breakfast of Champions kick-off event in Louisville:

 

  • And, as you know, SkillsUSA turns 50 in 2015. The upcoming 50th conference in Kansas City marks the beginning of a year-long celebration, culminating with the 51st National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky. Plans are underway for the celebration to include the development of 50th anniversary logos; a 50th anniversary pin and T-shirt; a special celebration at the National Leadership Center and more. 

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

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.

Recent Reports about CTE and its Importance

November 30th, 2013

On November 5, the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) released a report stating that career and technical education is increasingly being recognized as an important part of public education and citing the groundbreaking Pathways to Prosperity report (http://tinyurl.com/pry82fm) issued by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education  and two new reports offering more support for CTE.

The first report (http://tinyurl.com/oxh9t3z) was written by Jean-Claude Brizard, a former high school administrator and CEO of Chicago Public Schools and now a senior advisor at The College Board.

The second report (http://tinyurl.com/pelbwq3), co-authored by Harry J. Holzer of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute and the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy, Dane Linn of The Business Roundtable, and Wanda Monthey of The College Board, was released this past week. This report emerged from a convening of a large group of CTE researchers, practitioners and policymakers who met to identify what constitutes high-quality CTE. Holzer, Linn and Monthey examine the labor market environment confronting young people today and discuss what they believe to be the characteristics of CTE programs that address those challenges. The report illustrates the interest in CTE being expressed by influential voices outside the immediate field of CTE.

More Follow-up on National Conference

August 1st, 2013

Mike Rowe: Profoundly DisconnectedThe national staff will be holding a debriefing meeting on August 6 to make sure we capture all of the positive things we want to continue during next year’s conference and to identify those things we need to correct. There are some of both. Addressing them is how we keep improving

I recently heard from Youth Development Foundation member, Cameron Ferguson of Caterpillar — and the person most responsible for getting Mike Rowe to conference — that he’d been in touch with Mike Rowe. Mike said “It was a privilege to speak to those kids. Very satisfying.” He’s also committed to a campaign to confront negative stereotypes about career and technical education — that’s clear in his “Profoundly Disconnected” campaign — and he sees SkillsUSA and companies supporting us as being part of it.

Cameron said Mike also wrote that he was “amazed how few people outside the industry know about SkillsUSA.” He said that of the thousands of comments he’d received online, the majority were surprised and pleased to learn of SkillsUSA’s existence. They also asked for information on how their children can become involved.

To see a brief interview with Mike Rowe while he was in Kansas City, go to: www.kmbc.com/news/kansas-city/dirty-jobs-host-america-undervalues-vocational-training/-/11664182/20731902/-/hexy22z/-/index.html?absolute=true&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=kmbc.

There’s another nice clip of Mike Rowe talking about the SkillsUSA slogan “Champions at Work” at the end of Tom Kercheval’s Week in Review video; but, be sure to watch the whole video. As always, Tom’s done a great job of capturing the atmosphere and excitement of the national conference. Go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S8OECvddJ0&feature=youtu.be.

News releases on the medalists and Skill Point Certificate recipients were sent to the newspapers right after conference, before July 4. News releases on medalists and Skill Point recipients were sent to 7,388 daily and non-daily papers. In addition, we sent releases about Skill Point recipients (there are more of them than medalists) to 2,591 more papers. The results are showing up in clippings.

We’re also emailing letters, copies of the news releases and contact information to Members of Congress, governors and state CTE directors so they’ll know about the success of their constituents and can send commendations. This year, we’re sending the information to the main offices back in the state. Those offices are closer to the constituents, and we’re certainly interested in making ties between the offices back home, state associations and chapters. We’ve received word from the office of Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas that he is interested in holding a reception for Kansas SkillsUSA winners . We hope and trust there will be more.

 

A Call to Action and the Opening Ceremony

June 26th, 2013

I hope all chapter advisors will attend the special events today beginning at 7:45 a.m. CDT in the Count Basie Ballroom at the Marriott Downtown in Kansas City. There will be a continental breakfast followed by the Call to Action session where I’ll present SkillsUSA’s priorities for the coming year as well as national trends for career and technical education. Each attendee will receive a gift of appreciation and a chance to win other fabulous prizes. It’s all sponsored by 3M.

Afterwards, be sure and visit the SkillsUSA University session of your choice. A complete listing of sessions can be found here. SkillsUSA TECHSPO exhibits also continue today.

There are also many contests beginning today. SkillsUSA Championships contests are free and open to the public and can be found at Bartle Hall, Municipal Auditorium, American Royal, the Kansas City Firefighting Academy and Penn Valley Health Science Institute.

Tonight, the conference opens officially with the Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Kemper Arena. Seating begins at 5:45 p.m. and all participants should arrive at least 45 minutes in advance. The ceremony itself begins at 7 p.m. CDT.

Mike Rowe will be the keynote speaker for the Opening Ceremony at this year’s National Leadership and Skills Conference. Thanks Caterpillar Inc. for sponsoring the Opening Ceremony and making it possible to have  Mike Rowe at our conference.

Remember that the Opening Ceremony will be broadcast via the internet here. Thanks to Lowe’s for sponsoring our live web coverage.

Summertime is Connection Time

August 1st, 2012

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.

CTE Branding Initiative

February 1st, 2012

As you may be aware, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc), in cooperation with other organizations in the career and technical education (CTE) community, has developed a new logo and slogan for career and technical education – CTE: Learning that Works for America. SkillsUSA has been involved and supports this initiative.

Equally important, NASDCTEc has gathered the facts and developed the messaging for CTE advocacy so all organizations can be working from the same notes. For more information, go to: www.skillsusa.org/about/cteworks.shtml.

You are encouraged to go to the NASDCTEc website for additional information and promotional materials, including videos and PowerPoint presentations. For advocacy information, go to: http://www.careertech.org/resources/advocacy-tools.html. For promotional materials, go to: http://www.careertech.org/resources/workforce-education.html. For more information, contact Erin Uy at: euy@careertech.org.

ACTE National Policy Seminar: March 5-7

January 13th, 2012

Stand with ACTE and your CTE colleagues from around the nation to help Washington understand that CTE works! Register to attend the ACTE National Policy Seminar (NPS), March 5-7, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va. A special student rate is available and students are welcome to join. CTE faces many challenges during the coming year, and during the 2012 NPS, you will have the opportunity to connect with legislators who need to see us, understand us—and remember us! At this year’s National Policy Seminar, there is something for everyone:

  • Strengthen your knowledge of federal policies affecting CTE.
  • Learn more about how national assessments and the career-readiness conversation will affect your students.
  • Explore overarching issues affecting federal spending for education and workforce development.
  • Preview the next reauthorization of the Perkins Act and begin planning ahead.
  • Gain new advocacy skills to help you effectively promote your programs.

Check out the tentative agenda for more details and visit: www.acteonline.org/nps.aspx for the latest updates.

National Assessment Meeting at the U.S. Department of Education

September 30th, 2011

On September 12 and 13, I met in Washington, D.C. with the Advisory Committee for the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education (NACTE). The committee is charged with research and reporting on the impact of Perkins IV legislation. The NACTE Final Report to Congress will be released in a few weeks. I wrote a significant portion on the impact of education reform on CTE and was also responsible for including language in the report about employability skills in reform efforts through career and technical student organizations.

Highlights

September 30th, 2011
  • Washington appointments for SkillsUSA WorldTeam are coming right along. We now have a confirmed appointment and location for a briefing on the House side hosted by the CTE Caucus. Both Representatives and Senators will be invited to the briefing. It also appears we’re set to meet with staff from the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in the afternoon. Invitations have also been extended to The White House and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. We’re hopeful of team coverage in the AOL/Huffington Post in addition to continuing coverage in PARADE. The reporter working on the Huffington Post story said her editor saw the PARADE article and said: “Here’s the way to put a face on what we’re covering. Let’s do profiles of these students.”
  • On September 7, SkillsUSA West Virginia Director Paul Lovett and I visited my alma mater Mercer County Technical Education Center. We spoke to 24 teachers and administrators, did some training and delivered some SkillsUSA materials. The result? Mercer County Tech is going to be a 100 percent school with 600 members.
  • On September 16, I joined Rosanne White and Sandy Honour of Technology Student Association in Baltimore for a meeting with Dr. Vince Bertram, the new CEO of Project Lead the Way. It was our first opportunity to do an orientation on the two organizations for Dr. Bertram and to discuss a relaunch of the Engineering Alliance. Dr. Bertram was extremely interested, and we’ll follow up with a proposal.
  • And, on September 22, I presented to the U.S. Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship near Baltimore, Md. They wanted me to speak about SkillsUSA because they believe there are many areas in which we can be cooperating. I was accompanied by Caleb Houston our parliamentarian from Ohio. The opportunity was created in large part by our long-time friend Bob Baird of the Independent Electrical Contractors, along with Steve Mandes of National Institute for Metalworking Skills and Greg Chambers of Oberg Industries, Inc.

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