- On October 1-3, our Education, Training and Assessments department staff were engaged in intense training with Quantum Learning’s nationally respected trainer Mark Reardon. Our training staff learned the latest training and motivational techniques; and will be incorporating these into our training seminars and workshops for students and advisors. The training included focus on effective meetings, new teacher training and the most current training trends and techniques. Staff tells me they were excited about the training and even more excited about implementing what they learned with our stakeholders.
- As a follow up to the Champion of the Year Dinner and great connections from YDF member Dave Camden of Toyota, we are working with Interstate Batteries to introduce a national fundraising campaign for our local chapters. In our discussions with local advisors and student leaders, fundraising is a critical component of local involvement in SkillsUSA. Chapters will have the opportunity to sell Interstate alkaline batteries and keep approximately 50 percent of all sales.
- I’m also pleased to announce that earlier last month, Interstate Batteries announced a partnership with SkillsUSA. Starting this year, participating SkillsUSA student chapters will be able to sell a wide variety of Interstate Batteries products from AAA, AA, C, D and 9V batteries to flashlights and organizers with testers. And, for each Interstate Batteries product sold, SkillsUSA student chapters will receive 50 percent of the sale price.
- Finally, staff reports that we are almost ready to travel to Brazil with 11 of our finest students to compete in WorldSkills Americas in November. Our final count of participants is complete, and we are in the last days of planning for the event.
- On September 11, Don Hermanek and Rita Figi of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) came by the national office to discuss the launch of a partnership to reach out to support SkillsUSA state associations and chapters and to offer training and employment opportunities to SkillsUSA students from many training program areas. They expressed particular interest in students competing in the leadership contests. They started the meeting with the presentation of a $25,000 check. We are to get back together in early October to further develop our strategy.
- Along similar lines, staff and I met on September 13 with NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research). They’re predicting an uptick in construction hiring and so they’re looking for ways to hire our construction graduates.
- Thanks to Bill Maddox and Wanzel Jessie of YDF member N.E.W., we were able to take the Mega Prize winner John Lee and his wife, Samantha, to the owner’s box at a Washington Nationals baseball game September 7th and then I took them on a Segue tour of the Washington monuments on the 8th. Both John and Samantha are big baseball fans so they were just over the moon about the prize. John teaches diesel equipment technology at Tennessee Technology Center in Elizabethton. He’s also a state certified trainer, he’s had national contestants, has a national officer this year and he was a Virginia state officer many years ago.
- And, finally, the WorldTeam had its first webinar on August 3. Most of the contestants, experts, management team and a few state association directors participated. It was an orientation for the team and to check on how we’re doing on communications and training. We met with state association directors Karen Ward and Mike Cowles on September 10 to discuss several topics including state director certification, new training structures and registration procedures and the hotel lottery at national conference among others. The staff values their input. Past national officer, national staff member and all-around good friend to SkillsUSA, Bill Prince and his wife Patty came by to visit with the national staff on September 12. Bill addressed the staff meeting on the early history of SkillsUSA and exciting moments he recalled such as the appearance of President Reagan at our national conference.
- A big thank you to our state association directors who attended the Professional Development and Training Conference in Rapid City, S.D. Here are just a few more highlights from the conference. Tiffany Sanderson, team leader, Perkins Career and Technical Education in South Dakota – equivalent to the state CTE director – was a featured speaker during the opening dinner. The states held regional meetings before the business meeting and all ran very well. Mark Williams, SkillsUSA’s chief IT consultant, did an outstanding job of demonstrating the conference management system. At least half of the directors attending participated, and Mark did a separate training for new state directors. The Mount Rushmore nighttime lighting ceremony was wonderfully patriotic. Jen Polz, state association director from Minnesota is the new executive committee chair-elect and all of the executive committee did a phenomenal job of running the conference.
- On August 23, I flew to Chicago to meet with the CEO and executive staff of IAA (Insurance Auto Auctions) and the CEO and president of ADESA (a leading provider of vehicle remarketing services). Board member, Russ Hoffbauer, made the introduction by inviting the president and vice president of IAA to the conference last June. Needless to say, they were impressed by what they saw. During our meeting, Kaila O’Farrell, national high school vice president, talked about the value of SkillsUSA to students and then Russ Hoffbauer talked about why State Farm is involved in SkillsUSA. I’d say they were both persuasive because both organizations signed up to be SkillsUSA official sponsors effective this year. Executives from each organization met with us in Leesburg on September 11. Thanks go to Russ Hoffbauer for his support.
- We have 311 people registered to attend the Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) and it starts tomorrow. They’ll be representing 27 states and Puerto Rico and 31 state associations. I believe this is the largest WLTI in history. All of the national officers will be attending.
- Preparations for the Champion of the Year dinner are reaching a feverish pace. An announcement news release went out on September 6, and Snap-on has really stepped up efforts to get coverage during a news conference scheduled at the National Press Club. Staff is following up on the invitations to the administration and Congress. We’ve had good sponsorship responses from the Youth Development Foundation and members of the board, and we’re looking forward to having 100 students and teachers from WLTI join us for the dinner.
- We’re getting ready to send 13 students and 12 technical delegates from the 2013 SkillsUSA WorldTeam to Brazil for the WorldSkills Americas in mid-November 2012. We sent two contestants to the 2010 WorldSkills Americas competition and found it was a great way to prepare the contestants for international competition and – even more important – to help prepare the technical experts. Thank you to the state associations who are stepping up to support these contestants in their quest for excellence on the world level.
That’s it for now. Until next time, thank you for all you do for the great students and teachers we serve.
- The Best of Brand Awards were presented during the state directors’ conference in Rapid City. Congratulations go to: SkillsUSA Georgia for capturing Best of Brand in the Website Category and Best of Innovation, Membership Recruitment Category; SkillsUSA Massachusetts for Best of Brand in the Multi-Media Category and Best of Innovation, Advocacy Category; and, SkillsUSA Wisconsin for its Best of Brand in the Print Category.
- In early August, I had a great trip to Yakima, Wash., to do two presentations on the Skill Connect Assessments. The first was a panel discussion including other assessment providers. The second presentation was strictly on our assessments. Both presentations were packed with people. I also got to spend some great time visiting with Eleni Papadakis, the Washington state CTE director.
- I received a nice letter from Assistant Secretary of Education Brenda Dann-Messier thanking SkillsUSA for inviting her to participate in the national conference. The part I liked best comes at the end of this paragraph (that I’ll paraphrase): ”The Administration’s blueprint for Perkins reauthorization calls for transformation of our career and technical education programs based on our key principles: effective alignment of CTE and labor market needs … strong collaboration [among education and employers] … meaningful accountability [for academic, technical and employability skills] … and increased emphasis on innovation. Through your national skills competitions, and the many state and local competitions and activities that SkillsUSA offers throughout the year, your organization is already demonstrating the key reform principles in action!”
- In a quick update on national conference media coverage, we’ve documented over 100 stories about conference and/or winners in the greater Kansas City region from May into August. As a matter of fact, there’s a feature on a local medalist that ran several times beginning August 22, so it keeps on going. That figure is up over the 85 stories last year. The news releases on medalists and Skill Point recipients were emailed out almost immediately after conference, arriving before the July 4 holiday. A total of 5,581 releases were sent to daily and non-daily papers. And, trade press has been very good. Some of the trade press celebrates the fact that there are more contestants in the contests they cover. They see that as a sign of increasing interest in their fields.
- Champion of the Year invitations were delivered directly to Member offices on Capitol Hill on August 20. In all, we invited 11 Senators and 12 Representatives, including Paul Ryan who just happens to represent the district in Wisconsin where Snap-on has its headquarters. We also invited representatives from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor. A press conference is scheduled at the National Press Club during the morning of September 18.
- During our staff meeting on August 8, it was reported that Skill Connect Assessment sales were up 28 percent over last year and that we are seeing much more pre- and post-testing using the assessments. Staff also reported publication sales were up three percent over last year as of the end of June and the marketing department is still crunching the numbers on a survey taken by 650 students at conference.
- Board President, James King, was here for the staff meeting and he told the staff ”There’s interest in CTE because we teach marketable skills. The leadership component is what was missing and that’s what SkillsUSA does. I can’t think of any organization in America that does more for students than SkillsUSA.”
- Newly-elected board President, James King, paid a visit to the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center on August 8-9. He participated in our monthly staff meeting and NLSC debriefing. He also spent time with individual staff during his time with us. We very much enjoyed his visit.
- Letters have been faxed to Members of Congress, governors and state CTE directors, along with medalist and Skill Point recipient news releases. They were sent out in record time this year, well in advance of the congressional recess. Staff reports we’ve received many requests from Members for home addresses so they can send letters of commendation.
- Staff traveled to Snap-on headquarters in Kenosha last week to continue planning for the Champion of the Year Dinner where Snap-on CEO, Nick Pinchuk, will be honored on September 18. And, staff met with Bosch at their Chicago headquarters on August 9 to discuss our partnership moving into the future.
- Speaking of training, Deb Tripp, our associate director of training, left the national staff on Friday, July 13 to take over the SkillsUSA state association director position in Virginia. We wish her well as the new Virginia state director.
- Prior to Deb’s departure, we posted the associate director of training position and I am pleased to announce that Niki Clausen has interviewed and been promoted to the position. Niki has come full circle through the SkillsUSA program as a former member, national officer, instructor, advisor, state director and as a member of the national staff for the past two and a half years. In her time with us, Niki has taken our alumni to new heights and we are very proud of her accomplishments. And, as one of our current trainers for students and educators, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. I am confident she will excel in her new role.
- We are wrapping up final details and inquiries regarding our largest NLSC in history. Paid registration for conference was at all time high of 10, 037. And, there were a record 5,901 contestants, 11 percent of them over the age of 25.
- We were also thrilled with the large number of business and government VIPs attending this year. Over 300 attended, and we were pleased that one of them, Assistant Secretary of Education Dr. Brenda Dan-Messier, was published in a recent USDOE newsletter: Commenting on the NLSC experience, Dann-Messier said, “I was truly humbled and inspired by the … students who competed in 94 skills competitions …. Equally amazing was the enormous outpouring of support—through voluntarism, cash contributions, state-of-the-art equipment, etc.—from hundreds of teachers, national advisers, and business and industry leaders across this nation. I walked away filled with hope for our nation’s future workforce and prosperity.” Dann-Messier also spoke at the Youth Development Foundation Awards and Recognition Luncheon, before the SkillsUSA corporate meeting, and before the SkillsUSA joint delegate special session.
- I attended the Construction Industries Institute in Baltimore starting last Sunday through Wednesday with Karmen Ayers, past national officer from Washington State. Karmen was our student representative and speaker at the opening plenary of construction executives. Karmen and I operated a SkillsUSA exhibit booth at this event in cooperation with NCCER. There were great connections with several hundred commercial construction executives at this event.
- 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.
- It appears we’ll be having a record-breaking conference too. National conference registration is now 9,924. Total registration (not counting Courtesy Corps) last year was 9,527. Membership staff members say they believe we’re going to exceed last year’s total in part because of the number of hotel rooms states are adding to house their delegations this year.
- On May 4, we held a Day of Service here at the National Leadership Center. Most of the staff was on hand to help in painting, landscaping, cleaning, organizing and polishing around the center. The SkillsUSA Toyota van was cleaned and polished inside and out and the SkillsUSA sign on Route 15 got a fresh coat of red, white and blue paint. The place looks great.
- The official membership number is 330,703. That’s 10,416 more members than last year! Official membership includes students, instructors, alumni and honorary life members. It is now available for download at: www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/membershipreport.pdf.
- Another record was broken a couple of weeks ago. We not only surpassed the total number of Skill Connect Assessments sold all of last year, we’re already 13 percent over that total, and there is still more testing season ahead.
On April 2, SkillsUSA briefed staff of a U.S. Senate Commerce Committee subcommittee preparing for hearings to discuss ways to address the skills gap. Staff was particularly interested in things done by and with our partners, such as the CAT ThinkBig program. The staff also appreciated our helping them to secure potential witnesses from among our sponsors. One of the witnesses on April 17 was from the American Welding Society.
More in the “it’s nice to be asked”category. Staff and I had a conference call with the Boston Consulting Group on Monday. The Group is working with Harvard Business School on the topic of U.S. competitiveness. The goal of the project is to identify a set of actions that companies can take to improve competitiveness, and they thought SkillsUSA would be a good source. We were also called for an interview on the increasing popularity of “trade schools” by “Fox Business.” (We can’t correct everything in the news.) Here is the link to the story: www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/04/06/going-to-trade-school-should-do-it. And, staff member Eric Gearhart and Bob Skodzinsky of Haas Technical Education Center Network were the primary sources for a tremendous three-page feature article entitled “Student Journey: From SkillsUSA to WorldSkills”printed in the March 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering published by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The article really ties together the need for skilled workers, SkillsUSA, the Championships and the WorldTeam.
During the first week of April, we signed an agreement to coordinate where we can with Rebuilding Together (formerly known as “Christmas in April”), an organization dedicated to renovating homes owned by the poor and elderly. They do 10,000 projects every year. We’ll encourage our members and partners to work with Rebuilding Together and serve on their local affiliate boards. For their part, they have several major partners and several excellent visibility opportunities every year, including the Super Bowl.
Skill Connect assessment sales are brisk. SkillsUSA University has 75 classes confirmed and eight more pending. We have a record number of President’s Volunteer Service Award winners with 122 individual awards representing 34,251 hours of service and 11 team awards totaling 19,097 service hours.