- Thanks to an introduction from Board President Russ Hoffbauer, staff and I met on June 7 with the president and senior vice president of Insurance Automotive Auctions (IAA), an automotive recycling business with 160 locations in 48 states. IAA is looking for talent in IT, management trainees and people with automotive experience. They saw a fit with the SkillsUSA mission, and they are interested in getting IAA involved at the state and local levels. They will both be attending conference.
- We reached out to sponsors to support CTE and the student organizations slated for cuts under California Governor Jerry Brown’s school finance reform proposal. I sent email to our sponsors on June 1 and June 6.
- On June 1, we had a very encouraging meeting with the CEO, executive vice president and chief engagement officer and the new student relations director of Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Rosanne White, Technology Student Association (TSA) executive director, joined us. PLTW is interested in working with both organizations again and has reopened discussion on the Engineering Alliance created by TSA and SkillsUSA previously. PLTW wants to increase the number of schools offering its curriculum by 800 next year, and they are very interested in teaching employability skills to students.
- On May 30-31, Arizona State Association Director Carrie Wolf and I went on a recruiting trip to Phoenix to start an Arizona Youth Development Foundation. Four companies have already pledged their support and agreed to serve.
- On May 25, the national staff directors held a retreat to discuss funding priorities with an eye toward achieving Vision 2020 goals. The meeting generated great discussion on SkillsUSA’s message, in addition to helping us take a more comprehensive look at our FY13 strategic plan and beyond. Congratulations go to the staff members who planned and lead the meeting, and thanks to ASE for inviting us to use their headquarters for the retreat.
- The National Coordinating Council of the Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) met on May 24. One of the primary topics for discussion with Robin Utz from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) was the administration’s blueprint for reform of Perkins. The NCC-CTSO is pleased to have an opportunity for early reaction to the blueprint, and the Council will be preparing its own white paper on the blueprint and Perkins reauthorization.
- Thanks to an introduction from board member Kathy Jo Mannes, I spoke on May 23 with representatives from Skills for America’s Future, an initiative by the administration tied in with The Aspen Institute. Their focus is to help find ways to build business and community college partnerships, and they’re looking to SkillsUSA to help.
- Finally, I was a special guest speaker for the Fredtech 2012 banquet in Fredericksburg, Va. on May 22. The Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the event and 21 students – all of them Virginia state medalists – were honored.
- On January 4, I traveled to the offices of the Manufacturing Institute in Washington, D.C. to meet with Vince Bertram, the new executive director of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), and with the executive director and staff from the Technology Student Association (TSA). Vince is interested in revitalizing the Engineering Alliance (EA), the online joint venture between TSA and SkillsUSA for students in PLTW. He said he likes the concept for leadership and competitive events, and he wants us to prepare a proposal to seek a sustained commitment to EA.
- On January 5, I met with executives from Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitating housing in poor communities. Every year, they hold what they call “Big Builds” and some involve well-known personalities and big events. (They’re even tied into the Super Bowl this year.) Americorps is also involved. Their proposal is that we initiate a pilot project pairing 10 of our best chapters with 10 of their best affiliates to work on community service projects together. We’ll be reaching out to select state directors to pair local chapters with the strong affiliates that Rebuilding Together identifies as the preferred pilot sites. This initiative certainly helps SkillsUSA meet the request in recent student polls to make available more local service opportunities. Representatives from Rebuilding Together will attend our national conference, have an exhibit booth and make a SkillsUSA University presentation.
- Congratulations to the following state associations for exceeding last year’s overall membership. They are California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In the next few weeks, we’ll be announcing more states as they exceed last year’s overall numbers. A reminder – professional membership and alumni membership counts. Individuals like industry partners and other friends not affiliated with a local chapter can join too online at the following link: www.skills-register.org/rpts/JoinAsProfessional.aspx.
- On September 7, three representatives of organized labor met with us here at the national center. The thrust of the meeting was to explore ways the AFL-CIO and SkillsUSA could be working together more closely, particularly, in image building for the skilled trades and recruitment of our students into apprenticeships. As they said: “These are the people we want to hire.” Leading the meeting was Robert J. Pleasure, special assistant to the president of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. He was joined by Eric L. Packard, training specialist with the UA (United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters) and our old friend, Rick Sullivan, from the Ironworkers. The meeting began with a presentation by two of our national student officers, Robin Cronbaugh, Region V vice president, and Sam Soto, college/postsecondary president.
- The National Coordinating Council for the Career and Technical Student Organizations met in Reston, Va. on September 15. Included with the regular business meeting was a special presentation on social networking called “socialnomics.” We know that as student organizations, we have a lot to consider with social networking as a way to reach students, but also to protect our brand. It was a great presentation by ACTE (Association for Career and Technical Education) and FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America). Other SkillsUSA staff attended the session as well.
- We’re working on our Vision 2020 goal of reaching one million people per year. I spoke recently with Richard Grimsley of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and Rosanne White of the Technology Student Organization about marketing for Engineering Alliance (EA). PLTW has a goal of reaching into 15,000 middle and high schools by 2015. If EA takes off, SkillsUSA will be connected to those schools too.
- On September 10, YDF member Bill Maddox of N.E.W. took a group of our staff members to a Washington Nationals baseball game, and we got to watch from the N.E.W. suite at the ballpark. Bill is looking to secure the box for next season to offer it as a SkillsUSA membership mega prize.
- The SkillsUSA CEO Champion of the Year dinner is shaping up nicely and the pledges are coming in. The award is going to be special too. The design is based on the SkillsUSA Championships gold medallion. I’m looking forward to the presentation.
- SkillsUSA WorldTeam is coming together as well. Our goal is to compete in 20 contests, so that means 22 students will fill out the team for 2011. We have 16 selected thus far. News releases should be going out by early October.
- Staff reports alumni membership has now reached 17,000 and four states – New York, Texas, Maine and Ohio – have held meetings to establish state alumni associations.
- Staff reports that the Work Force Ready System Web site had been updated and made more customer-friendly. He says several states have inquired about state purchases of assessments for both pre- and post-testing and that we’re now offering more extensive state reporting.
- And, we just finished the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI), and it was a huge success. We had about 240 people registered including 151 student leaders, 73 instructors and 12 SkillsUSA state association directors. Board President Russ Hoffbauer joined the national officers and me on visits in Washington. I’ll be reporting more extensively about WLTI next time.
- I announced the official record-setting membership in the last Executive Update. Since then. we’ve had an additional 1,000+ memberships come in, many of them from Puerto Rico where there’s been the difficulty of moving the education offices from one building to another. Staff attended the spring leadership conference in Puerto Rico, along with Region IV Vice President Eduardo Luna and his advisor Daniel Jasso. They also did several school visits from April 18-24 and met with the Undersecretary of Vocational Education, Dr. Helen Sosa Staples. There was also a meeting with officials to discuss creation of postsecondary membership in Puerto Rico, and that would be a fir
- Staff was in Chicago April 29-30 attending the PLTW Core Training Preparation, a train-the-trainer conference for PLTW (Project Lead the Way) instructors. Marsha presented the Engineering Alliance and, of course, met with the trainers. Approximately 450 educators attended and they, in turn, will be conducting 185 training sessions around the country this summer during five two-week sessions.
- We had a staff meeting on April 20 looking ahead to the National Leadership and Skills Conference, and it’s not far off. Georgia-Pacific and Robert Bosch Tool Corporation will co-sponsor the opening ceremony. There are already 75 SkillsUSA University sessions scheduled, and 13 new TECHSPO exhibitors are signed up. And, the National Robotics League will return again this year to hold its national competition at the Hyatt Convention Center from June 21-23 in conjunction with our conference.
- On April 22, half of the staff went through Red Cross CPR training. The other half will receive training in September. This is a move to reduce the cost of health insurance. And, on April 23, the national staff pitched in to clean up the National Leadership Center in preparation for the 45th Founders’ Day Celebration held on May 7 (more on that next time).
- On April 30, I attended the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) board of trustees meeting in Napa, Calif.
- The final membership report will be coming out today, and it looks like it will be above 304,000 and alumni membership is over 9,000. This is a remarkable year.
- Staff reports that orders and preview requests for the Skill Connect Assessments have been pouring in steadily this month and last. They say that previews result in orders. There’s interest in all of the assessments currently available. According to staff, orders are from across the country with some concentration on the eastern seaboard and the central states, but no particular pattern except “everywhere.” Staff also visited North Dakota recently to present to high school and college administrators. The college administrators were doubtful at first, but became very enthusiastic as the day progressed. The high school administrators were enthusiastic all along.
- Online news clippings from September through March have gone to all of the state associations for their use. Staff reports that most of the recent stories are about local and state conferences and competitions – of course – but there are also a lot of nice features including reports on State Farm grant projects such as an energy-independent portable classroom including photovoltaic solar panels and geothermal heating in Maryland.
- And, Engineering Alliance continues to pick up momentum. We’ve been getting questions on how to sign up entire school districts. That’s a nice challenge to have. Staff will be part of the Project Lead The Way train-the-trainer conference later this month.
- The final membership count won’t be official until April, but as of March 24, we have already exceeded last year’s total paid membership by 4,800 members! That means SkillsUSA will have another record-breaking membership year. Congratulations and thanks to all of the state association directors for making this possible.
- National staff is definitely on the road visiting the states. I just mentioned my recent visits to Georgia and Wyoming. Other staff members have recently visited – or will soon visit – Vermont, Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Arizona, California, Missouri, Florida and North Dakota. Every visit is a joy.
- And, finally, I’d like to conclude with 12 highlights from the FY10 second quarter shared with the board last week:
- Membership at an all-time high of 311,079 (including alumni)
- Engineering Alliance launched February 22
- Alumni membership grew to over 8,600
- 27 Skill Connect Assessments with 19 on deck and the vulnerable community report complete
- Final Technical Advisory Committee meeting for Champions for Change held at OVAE and third-party report given
- Staff realignment to better focus staff efforts
- Lowe’s Campus Improvement and Community Service grants announced
- All levels of PDP Online are complete
- Newell-Rubbermaid support for ASK and ASK launch
- 12 State Farm Sustainability Showcase grants announced
- Teacher, state director and student Webinars held
- Inclusion and diversity training for staff and national officers
Advance notice went to the state association directors on February 25 that the Web site for Engineering Alliance was live. To see the site, go to www.engineeringalliance.org. Project Lead The Way (PLTW) sent announcement e-mail from John Lock, CEO, on March 4 to PLTW school administrators and instructors.
SkillsUSA sent out the news release announcing the Engineering Alliance to 477 editors and reporters in the education press and a list of education and engineering trade publications created specifically for the Engineering Alliance. The release also was sent out on PR Web through our SkillsUSA service, and we know that in over 24 hours, there were nearly 64,500 headline impressions and 790 full-page reads on the World Wide Web. Here’s the link to the release: http://www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/pressreleases/engalliance.pdf.
Today, March 1, SkillsUSA is announcing the Engineering Alliance in conjunction with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and the Technology Student Association (TSA). Engineering Alliance has been created at the request of PLTW, its instructors and state departments of education. Engineering Alliance draws upon the expertise of TSA and SkillsUSA in leadership instruction and competitions to benefit PLTW instruction.
Simply stated, PLTW saw the value of our employability skills instruction and competitive events and wanted to add them into the PLTW curriculum for pre-engineering students and teachers.
Engineering Alliance (EA) does not include membership in TSA or SkillsUSA but it doesn’t preclude it either. PLTW programs are encouraged to join either organization as members if they wish to take the competition and leadership experience beyond the local level. Engineering Alliance is an affiliation; it’s not a membership program. It’s similar to a classroom subscription. PLTW programs can sign up for online services including leadership activities and competitions designed specifically for their instructional programs. These services are delivered directly from the national level to the classrooms. Competitions are to be conducted at the classroom level only. They do not have district or state-level components.
The news release announcing Engineering Alliance has been sent to the education news media today and is posted at www.skillsusa.org/about/news.shtml. The link to the Engineering Alliance Web site is live. Go to www.EngineeringAlliance.org.
Thank you in advance for your support of Engineering Alliance. SkillsUSA hopes that this is one more step in its mission of lifting up students, teachers and CTE.
- As the Kellogg project is winding down in March, we held a PMO planning meeting on Feb. 2. We’re seeing the results of the past three years come to fruition. We’re getting good responses to our marketing mailings and to the assessments from the field. More mailings are scheduled this month for the big launch in March. We are booked for our final Technical Advisory committee meeting at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, in March so the department can witness first-hand the results of our efforts with the Work Force Ready System and the vulnerable communities projects.
- We had two new state directors here at the National Leadership Center on Feb. 5 from Vermont and the Virgin Islands for training on state association management. We also had six people here from colleges across the country working with staff to guide our college/postsecondary initiatives
- State Farm zone managers have announced the 12 recipients of the $10,000 Innovation in Sustainability grants. The list is located on our Web site at www.skillsusa.org/educators/statefarm.shtml. A big thank -you to State Farm for its support.
- The Engineering Alliance should be launched soon. We’re doing the last run-through of the Web site, making sure everything is where it’s supposed to be and that all the buttons, bells and whistles work. We’re also polishing up the press release, Web postings and e-mail announcements. Before the general announcement goes to the field, we’ll send a special announcement to our own state association directors so they’re prepared.
Happy CTE Month and SkillsUSA Week last week. It’s a pleasure to know that together we are doing so much good for so many people.
- Tom Hall, director of the publications department at SkillsUSA reported that on January 7 two SkillsUSA projects recently won awards. Our most recent annual report won an award in the annual Printing Industries of Virginia competition. With many other associations based in Virginia or having their annual reports printed here, this is quite an accomplishment for us. Congratulations go to Tom Kercheval, the B&I staff and everyone else who had a hand in our annual report. Also, in the Association TRENDS 2009 All-Media Contest, SkillsUSA’s 2009-10 Membership Kit won a gold award in the Membership Promotion Kit category. The 2009 competition included more than 425 entries in 26 categories of association communications. As the best in its category, our kit will be displayed in a “Winners’ Gallery” in D.C. next month, as well as on the TRENDS Web site. Congratulations go to Karen Perrino and all staff who worked on this project.
- As reported before, Dave Worden joined the staff last Monday as the program director of the national SkillsUSA Championships. Dave brings years of experience with SkillsUSA – dating all the way back to 1978 – and tremendous experience in industry and as chairman of the Power Equipment Technology contest. We look forward to having his expertise and sense of humor on the national staff.
- Staff traveled with a representative from the U.S. Department of Labor last week for a tour of CAT North outside Baltimore, Maryland. CAT is one of our favorite model SkillsUSA programs. The tour was part of DOL’s consideration of a grant for SkillsUSA activities and chapters in YouthBuild programs nationwide. We had a good discussion with representatives from YouthBuild and DOL on Monday of this week.
- On Monday morning, January 11, we had meetings with the Engineering Alliance. Representatives from Project Lead the Way and the Technology Student Association (TSA) joined us. The official launch of the Engineering Alliance is today, January 15. The Web site address is www.engineeringalliance.org
- John Foster, president and chief executive officer of NOCTI stopped by for a visit on January 5 to discuss a number of things including work NOCTI is doing on pathways and NOCTI support for the national SkillsUSA Championships. It was great to visit with John to discuss future cooperative efforts.
- And, I visited last Friday with Board Member Emily DeRocco. We’ve wanted to get together to discuss the National Association of Manufacturers certification system and the possible fit of the Skill Connect assessments. We had a great discussion on this topic and the work of the Manufacturing Institute.