- 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.
A quick update from NYC. Our two national student presidents, Victoria Holbert and Chance Litwin, are representing us well. Starting yesterday afternoon, we participated in the premiere of a new film “American Teacher” and a discussion that followed, moderated by Al Roker and Jenna Bush.
The agenda is packed with sessions that engage high level discussions on the American Education system. This morning alone, speakers have included Tom Brokaw, Warren Buffet, Melinda Gates, Mayor Bloomberg, Secretary Arne Duncan, Ann Curry, Sal Khan and LeBron James.
Right now, I’m in a session on the changing face of education (sponsored by State Farm) and the students are in a session by Detroit Public Schools. There is much much more slated today and tomorrow. The Summit is being streamed online at EducationNation.com and broadcast on MSNBC and CNBC with special spots each morning on NBC Today.
We took advantage of the only free time yesterday before the Summit kicked off and I took the students to the Top of the Rock for a great city view, to a NYC Pizzeria for lunch, to the center of Times Square and for a deli sandwich and New York cheesecake for dinner.
- The SkillsUSA WorldTeam received coverage in the Labor Day weekend edition of PARADE magazine. And, there was much more extensive coverage online, including the team members’ biographies. Here is the link: www.parade.com/what-people-earn/americas-skilled-workers/featured/110904-at-last-good-news-on-jobs.html. PARADE appears in more than 600 Sunday edition newspapers. PARADE is the largest circulation magazine in the country with 70 million readers of the print edition and 40 million online. More coverage in PARADE online has been promised this month.
- Board member Joe Pietrantonio stopped by the National Leadership Center on Wednesday, August 31. Joe met informally with all of the staff members who were in the office and then sat down with staff to discuss Air Products’ support for the furtherance of the Champion of the Year Dinner. Additionally, SkillsUSA is fortunate to have the very personal support of John McGlade in helping us build this program.
- While attending the state association director conference in Louisville, I drafted a letter to President Obama asking him to meet with SkillsUSA WorldTeam when it is in DC on September 30. That letter was sent to The White House scheduling office on September 1. We also sent them a notice with the PARADE magazine article link. If all goes according to plan, the team will begin its day in Washington at the offices of The Manufacturing Institute hosted by YDF member Emily DeRocco, meet with members of the CTE Caucus, visit with the President and visit members of Congress.
On August 7-9, I was in Bismarck for the North Dakota summer teacher conference. Over 600 teachers and all but one of the school directors from across the state were in attendance. It was great to spend some time with former board member Wayne Kutzer who led this professional development conference. Our State Association Director, Clarke Molter, also played a major part in the conference and had very well organized events for our SkillsUSA advisors and directors. I was very excited to have three key speaking opportunities during the conference as I was a featured speaker at the opening general session with all CTE educators in the state, a 45-minute session with all the school directors and another 45-minute session with all SkillsUSA instructors. North Dakota has excellent support from the governor’s office and the State Department of Education. It was a pleasure to meet and spend some time with the nation’s longest serving chief state school officer, Dr. Wayne G. Sanstead. Dr. Sanstead is in his 26th year as state superintendent and is very supportive of CTE and SkillsUSA. And to cap off the experience, on the last day of the conference, Marsha Daves conducted a Chapter Management Institute for select SkillsUSA North Dakota advisors.
- On July 21, I had dinner with our new student officer team. They were just beginning nine days of training at the National Conference Center in Ashburn, Va. This is a great group of students. They’re diverse, highly qualified and they’ve already got their hands around their leadership skills.
- On the morning of July 18, I attended a meeting at The Manufacturing Institute of the partners in the Skills for America’s Future Program announced by President Obama in June. The meeting was hosted by YDF member, Emily DeRocco. We discussed a job-match service being provided by The White House to manufacturing and education to pull qualified workers into partnering manufacturing companies. We also started to develop our work plans and the quarterly reporting process. SkillsUSA will be working with Air Products to recruit students to manufacturing careers and to bring more partners to the process.
- In the afternoon I met with Bradley Hull, deputy executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Brad told me that NASBE had identified five organizations they want to work with on advocacy initiatives and SkillsUSA is one of them. His particular interest is in finding a common voice for the arts and career and technical education because we face some common challenges including being among the “first to get cut” when school budgets are tight. Our discussions will continue.
- July 12-14, I was in Atlanta conducting SkillsUSA Georgia High School Division board training and strategic planning. State association director, Gayle Silvey, has a great board and together I believe they came up with a good plan with attainable goals. While there, I also attended the Georgia ACTE Conference and met with all of the Georgia construction teachers. SkillsUSA’s great friend, “Sonny” Cannon, was presented with the Outstanding Educator of the Year Award just prior to his retirement. Sonny leaves a legacy including business foundations to support CTE and the model of how to use our national conference as a VIP event to capture industry and policy maker attention.
- The news coverage keeps coming in. We’ve now received a final report on news coverage in the greater-Kansas City area and we’re up to 85 stories. We were on the front page of the Kansas City Star twice. The “Money Pit” radio show (syndicated on 250 stations nationwide) aired on July 18 and featured interviews with John Gaal, former SkillsUSA board member from ACTE and the Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis, two national student officers, Mike Rowe and me. To listen to the broadcast, go to this link.
- Speaking of Mike Rowe, SkillsUSA is featured on the mikerowWORKS website with information on the scholarship winners from this year’s conference, and they’ve posted video streaming from the Collision Repair Technology contest area by Collisionhub. The host was Bob Medved of State Farm Insurance. To see the news and the videos, please go to: www.mikeroweworks.com/2011/07/bob-medved-interviews-pablo-fuentes-ceo-of-workers-now-at-skillsusa/. There’s also a video of Tina White of mikeroweWORKS. And, SkillsUSA also received a mention on the CNN Money/Fortune site in relation to Proven.com. The link here is: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/07/21/social-networking-for-bricklayers/.
- As mentioned earlier, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium (NASDCTEc) has been working for nearly a year on a new brand for CTE. Mark Williams, our new board member from NASDCTEc, introduced the new brand during the Call to Action session in Kansas City. SkillsUSA has been helping on the communications advisory committee (Tom Holdsworth was recently a co-presenter with the president of the PR firm that developed the brand) and the state directors’ website has now been updated. The slogan is CTE: Learning that Works for America. Presentations, talking points and other supporting materials for the initiative can be found at www.careertech.org under the tab “resources.”
- The Association of Career and Technical Education released a paper on how career and technical education student organizations (CTSOs) expand career readiness for students. The July 6 ACTE news release says: ”National dialogue has escalated around the concepts of college and career readiness, but most of the focus has been on academic skills alone. Th[is] paper . . . concentrates on how elements of the CTE system support students’ academic, technical and employability skill development.” Among the bullet points: “Students who participate in CTSOs demonstrate higher levels of academic engagement and motivation, civic engagement, career self-efficacy, and employability skills than other students, and the more students participate in CTSO activities, the better the results.” The paper is available at: www.acteonline.org/uploadedFiles/Publications_and_Online_Media/files/CTSO_Career_Readiness.pdf. We’re pleased that the photo right up top is from the SkillsUSA conference this year.
- Planning is already under way for the 2012 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. We held our post-conference meeting on the 19th and we’re pulling together the top-ten list for improvements. On the 21st, staff was in Richmond, Va. to meet with the design team for TeamWorks to create the state association-level contest and our championships director is pulling together all the information and data he’ll need to take to the state association directors at their meeting in August to determine official and demonstration contests for 2012.
- And, finally, here’s a story from Springfield, Mo. about two Ozarks Technical Community College culinary students who were invited to cook for Sheryl Crow and her band along with her private chef just because they’d been in the SkillsUSA Championships. I just think that’s kind of neat. To view the story, go to www.news-leader.com/article/20110715/NEWS04/107150363/Students-OTC-cook-Crow-band?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE.
On Tuesday, September 20, 2011, the students and advisors attending WLTI will have time to go to Capitol Hill and visit with their Senators and Representatives between 10:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (The bus leaves at 3 p.m.) Appointments need to be set up ahead of time. A sample letter is available here.
We suggest delegations first fax the appointment request letter and follow it up with a phone call. Letters sent by mail may take a month to reach Congressional offices because of security systems. But, if you do send a letter, please hand-write or type the address – don’t use a label. The label will be blackened because all Congressional mail goes through an irradiation process. And, don’t rely on an email invitation. Congress is receiving a massive amount of emails right now, so there is a good chance it could be overlooked, depending upon the office.
If you have questions or need information about how to contact your members of Congress, contact Jane Short at 703-737-0612 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, as the post-conference correspondence has been saying: “Wow!” Students from every state in the nation, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were together for what many of them told me was “a life-changing experience.” The weekend before conference we had 260 student officers from 36 states attending State Officer and Advisor 101/201 for leadership training. That was a big increase over last year and our largest ever. We had 15 fine new national officers elected from a field of 40 candidates. The SkillsUSA WorldTeam – which will compete in London this coming October and is the largest team in 23 years – appeared on stage for the first time together on Friday night. We had nearly 5,700 contestants on the edge of their seats during the Awards Ceremony hoping to be medalists and Skill Point Certificate recipients. There was a “wow” every day of the week, whether it was the fireworks on stage or – even more – the visible excitement of the students and instructors.
Here are just a few more figures and highlights:
- This was SkillsUSA’s largest conference with a total registration of more than 9,600 and a total participation of nearly 15,000.
- All contestant scores are available online and privacy is protected by contestant number and birth date.
- Champions Night on Tuesday, sponsored by Carhartt and Pepsi in the Power and Light District set a new record for participation numbers.
- The 100% Advisor Reception sponsored by IRWIN, also on Tuesday, had a record 375 teachers attending. Seven sponsors provided 15 mega prizes, and they were collectively valued at just under $30,000.
- SkillsUSA Night at the Kansas City Royals game, on Thursday, was a great success. It was a thrill to see nearly 10,000 students, teachers and supporters in the stands (and SkillsUSA board President Russ Hoffbauer threw a pretty good first pitch, too).
The Opening Ceremony was sponsored by Bosch and Georgia-Pacific and featured SkillsUSA CEO Champion of the Year, John McGlade of Air Products. I have to admit, there was a moment in John’s speech when he seemed to bask in the glow of the reception he was receiving from the audience. He felt the appreciation of nearly 13,000 students and teachers for the work he and Air Products are doing on their behalf. What they didn’t know was that John had taken his advocacy up a notch by writing of Air Products’ support for SkillsUSA to President Obama, the Secretary of Labor, and two offices in the White House.
Speaking of advocacy, this year’s Wednesday morning Call to Action for instructors and administrators was attended by over 800 people, and it appears over 200 signed up to be added to our Active Advisor list. Steve DeWitt of the Association for Career and Technical Education spoke on the budget in Washington. Our newest board member, Mark Williams representing the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education consortium, spoke on the importance of advocacy and on the new brand for CTE. Dave Camden represented Toyota, which sponsored the Call to Action, and as a member of the Youth Development Foundation, Dave spoke of how important industry support is for SkillsUSA and CTE. Thanks to their support, this was truly a call to action at a time when SkillsUSA and CTE really need it.
The SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference has often been called “the showcase of career and technical education.” That’s what it was again this year. The final VIP list included 365 names. Even better, during the YDF Awards Luncheon, when asked for a show of hands of people attending the conference for the first time, at least 40 percent of the attendees responded. There were also significant delegations of executives at conference from Air Products, Harley-Davidson, Autodesk, John Deere, Lowe’s, State Farm and mikeroweWORKS Foundation. The entire board of the National Center for Construction Education and Research attended as well. Representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Education Association attended and were well cared for by our VIP Host Committee and partners. Kansas City Mayor, Sly James, spoke at the VIP Breakfast on Thursday morning and Sharon Hoge, assistant commissioner of the Office of College and Career Readiness, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education spoke during the VIP reception on Wednesday evening.
More than 500 students and teachers participated in the Timberland PRO community service projects planting trees and helping at the Kansas City food bank. The Community Blood Center registered 45 volunteers and collected 32 units of blood. There were 42 first-time donors. This was the most successful blood drive at conference.
Media coverage was up again this year. At the most recent count, there were 70 stories about SkillsUSA in the Kansas City news media including appearances on all four network affiliates and the front page of the Kansas City Star on Thursday and Saturday. News releases on all of the medalists, Skill Point recipients and honorees have gone to the media and I’ll report on those later.
The Opening Ceremony and the Awards Ceremony were both carried on streaming video thanks to the underwriting of Lowe’s. The Opening Ceremony had 2,548 unique viewers (a single computer with a unique IP address) while the ceremony was live. Since then 2,891 viewers have watched it in the archived version. For the Awards Ceremony, there were 6,495 viewers live streaming 7,907 hours of content. Since then, 3,496 viewers have looked at the archived footage for part one of the ceremony and 1,796 have watched part two. You can watch here.
Consistent with the strategic plan, SkillsUSA is conducting customer-satisfaction surveys including surveys about conference. We begun with the state association directors and have added more participants. Give your feedback here.
The new student center at conference also gathered responses from 722 students on 10 questions including: “How would you most like to be communicated with?” and “How often do you go to the website and what information are you seeking?”
Joe Pietrantonio, SkillsUSA board member and vice president, Global Operations for Air Products and I were front and center for an announcement by President Obama on June 8 at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va. of the expansion of the “Skills for America’s Future Program.”
The partnership between Air Products and SkillsUSA is specifically referenced in the White House Press Release among six public-private partnerships to bolster the nation’s manufacturing workforce. Thanks to YDF member and former assistant secretary of labor, Emily DeRocco of the Manufacturing Institute, for her help in making the event a reality.
Tim Lawrence said he particularly appreciated the president’s statement that in America we have an “honorable tradition of folks working with their hands, creating value. That’s part of what built the American dream.” It’s also what builds the middle class. The president also spoke of a student who told him that the automotive training program he’d taken in community college was “the spark I needed to get my career started” and the president said we need to do much more to “light those sparks.” Along similar lines, the president said it was important for high school students to see the relevance of what they’re learning to their future careers.
President Obama commended SkillsUSA and the work it’s doing when he spoke with Tim after the speech.
The speech by President Obama is available at www.skillsusa.org/blog/?p=1675
The White House announcement is available at www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/06/08/president-obama-and-skills-americas-future-partners-announce-initiatives
Today at Northern Virginia Community College, President Obama announced a major expansion of Skills for America’s Future, an industry led initiative to dramatically improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nation-wide network to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs, and job placements.
SkillsUSA is part of this new initiative. Get the details here.
Watch the announcement below:
- 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.